Passport to Paris by Glynne Hiller

71DkonEMV-LWithin this memoir the characters are well formed and, at the start, quickly introduced. The excellent concise descriptions, physical and intellectual, enable readers to easily visualise each person to the point of ‘feeling’ as if they know them personally.

The book has an easy, light style that carries the reader through without any sense of effort or need for undue concentration. Most of the tale is shared by means of anecdotes from everyday life, many based upon the author’s young daughter’s experiences. Again, these are formatted in a manner that lets the reader imagine they are participants in the events and situations.

In essence this is a tale of one woman’s search for true love. Indeed, the author has been very honest about her own feelings and outlook. Readers need to bare in mind the events recorded took place in the 1950s when social acceptances and values were very different to those of modern society. Many, if not most, would not now bat an eyelid to some of the author’s actions but back then some of her behaviour would have been viewed as idiosyncratic; unorthodox; non-conformist; unconventional; and probably scandalous. A woman, let alone one with a young child, who choose to leave her husband, would have been considered very immoral and unworthy of ‘good’ society. Nevertheless, this woman (the author) was not prepared to live a ‘false’ life of pretence.

In her search for love the author entered into relationships, though still technically and legally married, which undoubtedly many people of the day would have condemned. Appreciating, from his wife’s perspective, the marriage was effectively over, the author’s husband had returned to the USA while she remained in Paris. (They had originally gone to Paris to study French.) The author’s descriptions of the 1950s city certainly conjure up imaginings of what a pleasant city it must have been even though some of her own residences were perhaps not quite what a mother with a child would naturally seek.

As already mentioned the author is honest about her feelings and actions and has, just in one or two instances, included ‘descriptive’ accounts of some of the more intimate moments. Though not excessive, reader’s should be aware. However, it must be stated these do not take away from or diminish the read per se. The memoir is an enjoyable read of one woman’s experiences and ‘loves’ in a city not her own and of a time when life was very different.

It is clear the author was and, if the book Facebook Page is anything to go by, remains, at the age of ninety-four, a ‘character’.

Three stars (3*): This rating is by no means a reflection upon quality. It is just, though the accounts are interesting and informative, there is nothing unusual in the memoir. See Assessing Book Review Ratings for information about this website’s rating policy.

The book is available in paperback and e-book format.                   

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