L'appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home (paperback)
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Charming, wry, and occasionally outrageous, David Lebovitz's account of the ultimate act of becoming a Parisian—buying and renovating an apartment—manages to be inspiring and infuriating, in all the best ways.
There are, of course, setbacks, disappointments, surprises, near-villains, staunchly loyal friends, and the steadfast love of a good man as Lebovitz, a former pastry cook turned expat author and blogger (davidlebovitz.com) chronicles what we readers, at least, know is going to be a bumpy ride. Throughout the story, cooking is frequently way for him to assert some control in an unpredictable situation: each chapter ends with an original recipe for the likes of a stew, a cocktail, or sweet treat that he served, perhaps to thank someone for useful advice or to forget yet another astonishing delay.
Don't worry that L'Appart will strip away the romantic appeal of setting up your own Paris apartment: underlying every story of frustration is a deep affection for Paris and for France. Every instance of intransigent bureaucracy is more than matched by stories of wonderful people, food, and places. This is a satisfying delight, easy to devour rapidly.