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Book Review: Paris, I’ve Grown Accustomed To Your Ways by Ruth Yunker

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Paris, I’ve Grown Accustomed To Your Ways is a love song to the City of Lights. Ruth Yunker has spent six weeks in Paris every year for the past five years. She has lived in tiny apartments, some very old. She has eaten at local patisseries, visited small museums, shopped at local markets. She has learned to deal with snooty waiters and to discern the rules for dealing with sales clerks and postal employees. Most of all, she has come to cherish even those things that are inconvenient about the city, like five-floor walk-ups, her insufficient French vocabulary, and her own need to fit in as well as she possibly can. By the end of the book, you feel as though you have made a friend of both Yunker, and through her, of Paris.

Yunker writes with great attention to detail. She is a photographer and she has a photographer’s eye. Her descriptions are evocative and full of color. She writes with a wide-eyed sense of wonder and handles even stories in which she speaks of being embarrassed with wit and a palpable fondness for the memory.

It is not the large things that most tourists go to see and do that matter here, although the Eiffel Tower does figure into the narrative from time to time, including the dog park underneath it! It is the small cafe with the table with the yellow tulips, the sugar bread and salted butter, the handsome tailor in the shop across the street, the difficulties handling an umbrella in the rain, and details such as these that set this book apart from any simple travelogue.

This book is intimate, loving, and an utter delight. Yunker accepts that she will never be Parisian and delights in many aspects of being the observer, while also delighting in every new insight and every bit of Paris that rubs off on her. Whether you have visited Paris or plan to, or if you only dream of doing so, you will cherish Paris, I’ve Grown Accustomed to Your Ways and will be happy to have become acquainted with this delightful lady.

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About Rhetta Akamatsu

I am an author of non-fiction books and an online journalist. My books include Haunted Marietta, The Irish Slaves, T'ain't Nobody's Business If I Do: Blues Women Past and Present, and Sex Sells: Women in Photography and Film.