Paris has seduced many admirers, but for visiting Australian Ellie Nielsen it's true love. So deep is her infatuation that, if she can't have it all to herself, she'll only be satisfied with buying her own little piece of Paris.
The object of her desire seems so simple: the sort of apartment she's seen a thousand times in magazines and books. Something effortlessly charming, and old, and quirky - and expertly decorated. Something exuding character and Parisian chic. Something quintessentially French.
The trouble is, she has only two short weeks in which to realise her fantasy - and she must somehow negotiate the deal in a foreign language without offending French real-estate etiquette. Is this even vaguely possible, or just a ridiculous folly?
Buying a Piece of Paris is a charming and witty love-song to the most beautiful city in the world. Written with great verve and a superb ear for language, it is a joy to read and a pleasure to dream about.
About the Author
Ellie Nielsen studied acting at the Victorian College of the Arts, where she played a tap-dancing Sir John Kerr in the musical The Golden Years of Gough, and Olive in Ray Lawler’s Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, before graduating to a very small role in the television series Prisoner. In the 1990s she worked at the Playbox Theatre Company as a publicist, curator, and script assessor. After the birth of her son she started writing and dreaming. Buying a Piece of Paris is the result.
Charming debut memoir traces an Australian woman's off-the-wall plan to become a local in the City of Light by way of real estate.For years, Nielsen dreamed of calling Paris home. During one visit, while gazing out a balcony window and fantasizing about ordering rabbit from a butcher shop in perfect French, an epiphany struck. She would buy an apartment, et voila - an outsider she would be no longer. She convinced her stubbornly realistic yet doting husband Jack to commit to the hunt, and off they went with son Ellery in tow. They were optimistic at first, each hazy lead inspiring visions of lofty windows, parquet floors, kitchens stocked with copper pots and redolent with the aroma of well-cooked duck souffle. A parade of real-estate agencies exposed them to Parisians' inimitable ways with conversation, culture and decorating - but no suitable apartment. Nielsen, who had romanticized France into an urbane Everest, saw each small real-estate setback as emblematic of a personal character flaw. Sundry friends and strangers reinforced her self-doubt. From Claude, the aunt of an acquaintance who exuded a regal elegance befitting Catherine Deneuve crossed with the Arc de Triomphe, to a grizzly sidewalk artist who painted with the same vivacity with which he addressed his patrons, everyone she met seemed to incarnate a Parisian essence to which she could only aspire. Nielsen's narrative describes multitudes of apartment showings, briefly interrupted by short, amusing recollections of trips that reinforced the depths of her commitment to la ville lumiere. Her love is not one of fleeting lust or random affection, but a more enduring emotion, and her persistence and dedication are finally rewarded with an apartment on the rue de Rivoli. "My world is suddenly bigger," she writes. "From now on I'm part of two universes." A bubbly, delicious treat for anyone whose horizons aren't bounded by the ordinary. (Kirkus Reviews)
Number Of Pages: 248
Published: 25th July 2007
Publisher: Scribe Publications
Dimensions (cm): 21.000 x 13.800