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Going In Seine

Maria Anton

Average Review Rating Average Rating 9/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Chipmunkapublishing

Published : 2008

Copyright : Maria Anton 2008

ISBN-10 : PB 1-84747-717-8
ISBN-13 : PB 978-1-84747-717-0

Publisher's Write-Up

Maria Anton is English but has a passion for France and its language. Several years ago, recovering from a severe emotional breakdown, she bought a tiny Parisian apartment on the spur of the moment, a decision that radically changed her life.

Buying a property is complicated and harrowing at the best of times. Buying one overseas, with unfamiliar bureaucratic procedures to deal with (not to mention the plumbing!), can be terrifyingly traumatic. But factor in a hyperactive daughter who works in Paris and needs a permanent roof over her head, an apartment that requires a huge amount of loving attention to make it habitable and an ever-demanding bladder - and you have the makings of a major crisis. Throw in a husband who doesn't understand either the French or their language, a plumber with more than water pipes on his mind, and an opinionated Frenchman who organises everyone around him. Set them all against the backdrop of one of the world's most exciting and wonderful cities. Tell your story with a liberal sprinkling of humour and what you get is this book. It's enough to send anyone In Seine!

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Mick Stearbs (080309) Rating (9/10)

Review by Mick Stearbs
Rating 9/10
I've always had a thing about Paris and have avidly devoured many books about the city, especially those with a quirky viewpoint. Recently I read a somewhat dry, though highly informative, guide to Paris through the history surrounding several of its Métro stations and it left me wanting something a bit 'spicier'. With this book I certainly found it.

Maria Anton is an English woman who, on the spur of the moment bought an apartment in Paris as, would you believe, an impulse buy. I thought I was a bit of an impulse buyer but my eBay and Amazon purchases pale into insignificance beside this. To make the venture even more intriguing, she reveals that she had left the confines of a psychiatric ward only a few weeks earlier.

The apartment she bought seemed a good idea at the time. That was before reality struck and she found herself inside its shell without a stick of furniture, with bare wires hanging from the ceiling, a water heater that wouldn't heat and a toilet that wouldn't stop flushing.

Her book deals with her attempts to get her head round the whole enormity of what she has done and how she managed to turn her tiny slice of France into something habitable. It brings in encounters with bureaucrats, a Frenchman from hell (even in the estimation of his compatriots), a plumber with more than just water pipes on his mind, Maria's semi-francophobe husband and their wayward daughter who could be said to have started everything in the first place. She weaves them all into a wonderfully warm and amusing narrative that at times had me laughing out loud - and she claims it's all true!

There are some wonderfully surreal moments, not least the revelation that a third-floor apartment in a building on a hill could be prone to flooding - but it would spoil things if I explained further here. And the book's ending is a stroke of surreal genius (the title gives a clue!).

Characters certainly spring to life, not least Maria herself; and as the narrative is written in the present tense we are able to follow her 'live' through her series of misadventures, which include being trapped in a toilet, unwittingly getting herself applauded by a group of Japanese tourists and narrowly escaping being mugged.

Her husband Dennis comes across as a cringe-making, archetypal Englishman whose view of all things French is highly jaundiced - that is, until he discovers the Métro, which becomes his obsession. His frequent caustic one-liners are a joy to read unless, of course, you're French!

Best of all, through the whole story lurks the wonderful city of Paris and I was taken back so many times to places I recognised. Mrs Anton takes us to parts of the city tourists know little about as well as to some of its major monuments - but always as a part of the narrative. This is not a guide book - it can be read as a work of fiction, which it apparently isn't, but anyone seeing Paris for the first time through its pages will be left wanting to visit the city, while anyone who already knows it will smile knowingly with the pleasure of revisiting familiar haunts - and will probably book a Eurostar ticket soon afterwards.

By the end of the book I found myself full of admiration for the way Maria Anton coped with the situation and turned everything to her own advantage. She obviously loves Paris and her apartment and I shall leave the last word with her: “No matter how problematic life can be, this tiny haven of peace is a priceless refuge. No country mansion, palatial chateau or noble castle could give me such contentment. Never have I felt so gently enveloped, tenderly protected and quietly at home as within the walls of this little apartment.”
Mick Stearbs (8th March 2009)

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