This is a guest post from Carolyn Moncel, who writes about Paris – her setting for her novella, 5 Reasons to Leave a Lover. She describes it as a city more than a romantic getaway and what Paris means to her characters in her book. Read this beautiful piece that brings to us a lot more than we are used to seeing…
IS PARIS MY MUSE?
People often ask me to describe Paris. Almost always, I provide the same reply: A beautiful place still full of mystery. I moved there with my husband and two young daughters, and stayed for five years before moving to Lausanne, Switzerland in 2007. Every time I return for a visit, I always find something new and view Paris in a completely different way. For me, this is what makes setting my stories in Paris so interesting.
However, I must admit that this is my polite answer. Describing the real Paris actually is a bit more complicated. In trying to capture the essence of the city from my own distinct vantage point, I still struggle because Paris is more than visiting the Eiffel Tower, Luxembourg Gardens, or eating at Les Deux Magots or strolling along the Seine or Avenue des Champs-Élysées.
The real Paris is a contradiction, a Janus coin. It is a place that can propel you forward to meet your future yet compel you to confront your past; it can introduce you to love and heartache all in the same day; and it can teach you everything you need to know about life or nothing all. People (real or imagined) cannot help but be changed one way or another by the experience.
To be sure Paris is a very glamorous, romantic and sexy, and yes, a sexy city, but there is so much more. As I considered the real Paris a bit more, it made me think about all the realistic stories I could tell about living there. In the beginning, I wasn’t always certain what stories I wanted to write specifically, but I knew which ones I didn’t want to tell. For example, I knew wanted to avoid the common stereotypical stories. I had no interest in writing stories about the single girl meeting her dream French guy in the City of Love. I hold nothing against these types of stories (I enjoyed reading them) but living in France as an expatriate provides a unique perspective on life in that you are always an outsider looking in. This is a perfect view for someone like me who really enjoys people watching and observing human behavior. In Paris, one can do this all day while sitting in a park or nearby café.
Instead I wanted to explore common experiences in order to show that life in Paris is often times no different than living someplace else like Sydney, New York or Akron, or Ohio for that matter. The same problems and worries still find you – but in a prettier place. So when Ellery Martin-Roulet (one of the main characters in the 5 Reasons to Leave a Lover novella) discovers that her husband of ten years, Julien Roulet, is having an affair with an illegal immigrant; or when Cinnamon Martin helplessly watches while her best friend’s marriage disintegrates; or when Herman Riley must figure out how to go on with life without his beloved wife of 70 years, their reactions to all of these experiences are real and universal.
So I guess at the end of the day, location as a setting is very important to me – they often become minor characters in their own right, but what happens to my principle characters and how they manage recovery is far more important. C’est la vie.
You can find out more about Carolyn by following her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/CarolynMoncel
Carolyn’s book is available to purchase on:
Amazon UK : http://amzn.to/12BRasc
Amazon USA: http://amzn.to/Zwv0uz
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