Writing about Paris throws up too many ideas and most of them are very personal and I wonder does anyone want to read such personal memoirs. Which brings me to Hemingway and the Woody Allen film ‘Midnight in Paris’ which is basically a Paris travel advertisement ( and no less enjoyable for that) based on Hemingway’s book ‘A Moveable Feast’. We watched the film again for about the fiftieth time over Christmas. Hemingway’s book is a memoir of his time in Paris in the 1920’s with his first wife Hadley and their young son. It features the many extraordinary characters that came in and out of his life during that time. He wrote it shortly before he took his own life and is so intensely personal even to the degree that he finishes by making clear that he threw away the best things he ever had, his wife and son and the life they had together – Paris was the best of times, he searched for more but ultimately he never found it. I cannot write as well as he did and express such sentiments but it encourages me that writing in a personal manner is exciting, absorbing and very readable and I will try my best to make it so. I cannot recreate the times I have had in Paris exactly, only last year we lost the best of friends, someone who when her name is mentioned the word Paris will inevitably be in the same sentence.
I hope to convey just what these people meant to us and how Paris bound all the best of memories together but it is a slower process. As I said Paris is throwing up too many ideas and I think it will produce two books rather than one. Just adding my love of its history to the book is giving me a challenge to fit it all in. I have a passion for the time of the occupation, perhaps because I know that I would have been personally caught up in all its horror had I been living in Paris back then. I find it fascinating and hope to convey that a consideration of those events should not be overlooked by the visitor. No, Paris unlike Provence cannot be based around wonderful long lunches, it needs more effort for a visitor to get full value from a visit. I am loving the writing and will finish (eventually) but despite Hemingway dwarfing me as a writer I do possess something he relinquished – I can write of Paris without any regrets.