We'll Always Have Paris Sex and Love in the City of Light is a rich narrative filled with personal memories nestled between an insider's glimpse of the sexual underbelly defining French capital. John Baxter tells his story from the perspective of an Australian who finds his heart in Gay Paree, and knows he has to give his heart a chance to prove itself.
What follows is a tale both lurid and compelling. Despite the book's title, its warning might go unnoticed by some readers. While I was not flustered by the detailed, sometimes graphic stories of the ways in which the Parisians entertain themselves, those with more gentle sensibilities might be shocked at what they find within the pages.
Baxter unflinchingly relates the life of Paris in its heyday. Each page brings readers into a time of history and passion. From twisted bananas that make up the skirt of Josephine Baker, to the Occupation, the narration is just dry enough to be ironic, and comical enough to bring laughter from the tears.
Along the way are tales of people who experience the French capital for the first time. One is introduced to Colette, who finds him living in a slower pace as an expatriate than the hurry-up-and-get-it-done attitude so often the norm in American society. There is a confusion of culture after Bert and Marlene come for a visit. They are so set in their ways that they drive Baxter and his wife, Marie-Do, nuts. Cheap to the point of being insulting, they are finally driven out of the country by a doctor who treats Marlene's swollen legs with a medicine placed in a rather unfortunate spot.
As I read each chapter, the richness of prose let me see what my eyes did not. The depth was delightful and the characters jumped right off the page and stayed in my head even though the covers had been closed hours before.