People I know are fascinated by the idea of finding something perfect to read on a trip to Paris, and the suggestions keep coming. Luckily the people I know are really interested in books, so the suggestions are great. Here they are, in no particular order:
Vita Sackville-West wrote a biography called Saint Joan of Arc, which a friend told me of, but had not read. I loved her book about her garden Sissinghurst, and the memoir of life with his parents written by her son Nigel Nicholson, so this sounds promising.
Two friends (a married couple, of all things) both said they LOVED Geaorge Bernard Shaw's Joan of Arc book, Saint Joan. Must read?
A good friend recommended The Piano Shop on the Left Bank by Thad Carhart - a book about music: it sounds like heaven.
Essays by French philosophers, such as Pascal and Montaigne. (Not to make it sound like philosophy is my life, but I have read a few of each, and they are surprisingly entertaining, and I would gladly accept a gift of such a book to take on a trip to Paris). There is also Sartre. In what city beside Paris would you really conclude that "Hell is other people?" Hmmm?
George Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London came highly recommended.
I was told I should have thought of and also mentioned Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
And Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary, which I LOVED, but thought of as provincial, rather than Parisian. Its literary value over-rides that consideration. I was wrong not to mention it.
I thought of Auguste Dupin - Edgar Allan Poe's french detective, admired by Arthur Conan Doyle, and the progenitor of all detectives, a character created before the word even existed. The most famous story is Murder in the Rue Morgue, but there is also The Purloined Letter and The Mystery of Marie Rogêt. Must dig out my copy of his complete works. Yes.
Something worthwhile for kids would be the Disney movie The Hunchback of Notre Dame. They would be discovering something familiar once on a trip to Paris, which is, I think, more the point than the value of the movie per se.
The Marigold asks nervously: Is there still more? Of course there is. Is it worth mentioning? Probably. Do I have time? Ack!