Thursday, October 1, 2009

Review: French Milk

by Lucy Knisley

Published by Simon and Schuster
2007

Rating: 5 out of 5



Before I became an English teacher and absolutely enthralled with Victorian England, I was a French major and mesmerized with the Parisian lifestyle (I think I should have been born in Europe). In high school I was fortunate enough to be a part of a three week student exchange trip to France. We stayed four days in Paris, and then traveled to the south of France, Arcachon, to stay with French families and attend the local "ecole" I had great plans of returning to France during my adulthood, but other milestones in life took precedent: marriage, children, etc. I did have an amazing opportunity to revisit Paris for a whirlwind 3 day "all expenses paid" seminar about three years ago, and I am convinced that I will go back some day -- for an extended period of time - with my husband.

Not too long ago I read two amazing reviews for this book: one from Beth Fish Reads and the other from Joann at Lakeside Musing. The title alone attracted me to the book, but their reviews enticed me to immediately place a hold at my local library.

Because the book is in graphic novel form, it is a very easy, quick read. While I am not normally a fan of this genre (more due to lack of exposure rather than a true aversion), I think it is the PERFECT medium for this memoir. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and in this case, I would say a cartoon is worth at least that many. I truly appreciated the author's talent. She has such a way of capturing the details of the moment in a very simple style --- deceptively simple. The entire time I read the book I kept thinking, "Oh, this would be a great way to journal my upcoming trip to London." However, once I try to draw a baguette of bread it would take on the appearance of a dead piece of wood (highly unappetizing).

Ms. Knisley also accompanies these wonderful drawings with journalistic entries that detail her daily emotions, thoughts, and activities. The 5 week trip to Paris was meant as a special celebration of her mother turning 50 and Knisely turning 22 and graduating from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Both ladies are true artists, so there is lots of documentation on the Parisian museums. I am also under the impression that they are amateur "gourmands" as nearly each detailed meal is a culinary delight. Quite often they would visit the Rue Mouffetard marketplace and bring home such delicacies as fois gras and duck confit. I must say that I could read and re-read these sections every day. It is a real dream of mine to some day live close enough to an open-air market that I can daily visit the stalls and bring home whatever inspires me at the moment.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys travel, art, food, and life. Knisley's young, care-free attitude is a breath of fresh air, although she does occasionally use a bit of profanity to express her current mood (I did not find this at all offensive, but there perhaps be some of you who might).

12 comments:

ds said...

Great review. I had read JoAnn's--still think this is an interesting way to present a travel memoir. It may yet have to go on the list. I may yet have to get on a plane! Gotta win the lottery first...

bermudaonion said...

I added this to my wish list after I saw the review on Beth Fish Reads as well. You've made me even more anxious to read it!

JoAnn said...

I'm so glad you liked this, Molly. It is such a creative way to keep a travel journal...and probably impressed me even more since I have absolutely no artistic talent.
Didn't realize there is a trip to London in your future - how exciting!

dolcebellezza said...

I enjoy travel, art, food and France! (I even bought my wedding dress there, at Galleries Lafayette, in 2001. It's been many years since I was able to speak French fluently, but it is such a lovely country one can just sit, or eat, and feel at home.) Thanks for showing us this book!

Paperback Reader said...

"I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys travel, art, food, and life" - I'm sold! I had seen this on JoAnn's blog but you have intensified my wish to read it and also to revisit Paris...

Jane said...

Thanks for sharing an interesting review for this book. I'll check out the book later. Good luck on your future travels. By the way, I found a fantastic Paris adventure that might interest you too. Thanks and have a wonderful day!

Sandy Nawrot said...

I remember reading Beth's review (and didn't Nymeth review this too?) and it sounds wonderful. I've never been to Paris (but I've been to Nice!) but I swear I was a Parisian in another life. I could LIVE on cheese and wine. I am waiting for someone to host a graphic novel challenge, and I will be ready! I have a list!

Beth F said...

I'm so glad you were taken by the book. I really loved it and made me wish I could take 5 weeks with my mother and hang out in Europe. I could photograph our adventures, but drawing? Argh!

I wish I could journal in cartoons.

zetor said...

Sounds a good book, thanks for review.

Belle said...

Molly, this sounds like a wonderful book! I just went to my library's site and put in a request for it. Thanks for a great review.

Margot at Joyfully Retired said...

I want to try a graphic novel and I think this might be my entry book. Your review makes me believe it is fun and will satisfy/fuel my desire to see Paris.

Gwendolyn B. said...

I've had this on my wish list for months -- thanks for reminding me why!

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