This May, in the days following my college graduation and preceding my post-graduate trip to Paris, a friend posted on Facebook about the release of Kate Betts’ memoir, My Paris Dream. I was instantly enticed by the beautiful cover – whenever I pull it out in public, I receive comments on the jacket without fail – and was pleased to discover that the work which lies beneath the mint green and gold facade is equally wonderful.
Following her graduation from Princeton in 1986, Betts, an aspiring foreign correspondent, decides to move to Paris, a city she fell in love with during the requisite post-prep school graduation trip [as a New Yorker with a near-identical upbringing to that of Betts, I must admit I embarked on the same pilgrimage during my senior spring]. Knowing no one save for her expat godmother, Betts moves in with a French family who are quick to show her the ways of the Parisian world. She chronicles her initial struggles landing a stagiare [internship], maintaining contact with her college friends and family back home, meeting and penetrating the notoriously frosty French, and falling in and out of love. The book is a quick read that is both fascinating and inspiring; it serves not only as an anthropological look into the French mode de vie, but also an account of how an intelligent and ambitious woman was able to forge an incredibly impressive career at a very young age through patience, persistence, and hard work. In an age where so many people are becoming famous in fashion simply by posting Instagrams of their outfits, its refreshing to read about a woman who worked tirelessly to achieve her success.
Betts’ memoir is the perfect read for recent graduates struggling to figure out where they belong both personally and professionally because she candidly writes about being the same position. And if you have it all figured out? Pick up the book for the simple reason that it will induce wanderlust to the extent that it’ll have you heading to Expedia to find the next flight to CDG.