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How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are

Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret and Sophie Mas, £16.99, Ebury Press, ISBN 978-0-09195-809-1

A broad lifestyle compendium for all wannabe Parisiennes, this book is a joy to dip in and out of, taking in a serious fashion tip here or a light-hearted boyfriend-sabotage there. Sophie, Audrey, Anne and Caroline are four modern, successful city women who have been friends for years; this is the English translation of their original manuscript. They admit to being snobs, unpredictable but not unreliable, bossy and opinionated yet tender and romantic.

In explaining what it really means to be a French woman today, the book deals with topics as disparate as perfume and parenting, courting and chocolate fondants. Some parts are written as descriptive prose, some as jaunty statements and others as a checklist. The punch-packing opening page of aphorisms is “to be read out loud before going to bed, even when inebriated” and, later, a double-page swatch of Parisian paint colours will have you holding it up to the walls and imagining your bedroom in “Brunch in St-Germain” with “Rose-flavoured macaron” for the skirting boards.

Each of the five chapters has multiple frisky vignettes that shape the narrative of the book, illustrated with striking photos. There are ancestral tips passed down from mothers and grandmothers, a page singing the praises of the colour navy and an address book of well-worn city haunts. Quotes from Camus and Proust pepper the pages: this may be a whimsical book, but the authors still manage to convey the idea that nothing is as cool as cleverness. Refreshingly, though, they don’t take themselves too seriously, poking fun at their own stereotypical traits and contradictory feelings and behaviour.

Mirroring the happy-go-lucky, paradoxical lifestyle of a true Parisienne, How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are defies age, stage and physical location: it is an essential bedside bible for every modern woman. We loved it.

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