must-read: all the light we cannot see

Hitler Youth

“Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.” 

For our Greatest Generation, the Second World War was absolutely defining.  Life, culture, and innocence were lost on a scale so grand that it is a wonder to know that anything survived at all.

My own grandmother and her parents left Paris in 1939, never to return.  I often think about how different her life would have been, had they stayed.  But despite spending the last 76 years tucked safely away in American suburbia, the injustice wreaked on her homeland still boils in her blood.

Marie-Laure, the young, blind protagonist of Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, All the Light We Cannot See, also flees Paris on the eve of the Nazi invasion, with only her father, her cane, and a 133-carat diamond.

 All the Light we Cannot See, Anthony Doerr

The stories of Marie-Laure and her newfound family persevering within the ancient, sea-sprayed ramparts of Saint-Malo; of Werner and Jutta, towheaded, precocious orphans yearning to escape their colorless German coal town and entranced by a mysterious children’s radio program; of a dying sergeant major hell-bent on claiming the world’s treasures for his führer; of stargazing Hitler Youth, and resistant bakers’ wives, and old and young lives severed by violence; all intertwine in a tapestry of language, love, and light that will leave you wishing Doerr had written just one more beautiful chapter.

As the war’s last survivors approach the twilight of their years, this book is an enchanting reminder of all that they lost, and all that we continue to live for.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  Happy reading!


i just want to dance: 12 essential albums turn 20

Lautrec, Marcelle Lender Dancing the Bolero in Chilperic

Tonight the hubs and I will be reuniting with three of our favorite people. A million years ago we all met in Gay Paree, where we spent our days working for the man and our nights (and early mornings) in transcendent worship to the gods of the discothèque.

As if a sign from our deities of dance, MixMag just published “Two decades on: 12 albums that will still blow you away,” an homage to a dozen immortal dance records released in the year of Our Lord 1995, a time that will never be forgotten in the vaulted bowels of the disco: each scratch a testimony, every remix a gospel.

I’m not sure where tonight will take us — by the wee hours, very likely here (quelle scandal!)– but as I take my French bath (just kidding) and carefully apply my Pigalle-red lipstick (very serious), I’ll be pumping the dance music, reminiscing about our Duplex nights and looking forward to many early mornings to come, finding my way home with the best of friends.

Jouez et jouissez!

a perfect paris evening in 8 easy steps

  1. An hour before sunset, exit the Métro at Pigalle station.
  2. Find the Monop‘ (Monoprix supermarket’s mini-me) on Place Pigalle.
  3. Load up:
    • one+ twist-off bottle of red wine (if you came prepared with a corkscrew…we should be friends)
    • une baguette
    • prosciutto
    • the stinkiest cheese
    • plastic cups, because this is Paris and you aren’t an animal
  4. Climb the steps toward Sacré Coeur, but don’t look behind you until you get to the very top.
  5. Okay…now…look behind you.
  6. qui ne pleure pas, ne voit pas.
  7. Pop into Sacré-Cœur.   It’s free.  They say ‘no photographs,’ but life is short and everyone is doing it.
  8. Walk back out and sit on the steps with your picnic.  Enjoy some of the best free music in Paris, with the entire city as your scenic backdrop. Sip your wine, eat your stinky cheese, enjoy (and join in!) the locals’ conversations, and savor la belle vie as the sun sets over the City of Light.

Sacre Coeur


Repeat, early and often.