Haven’t you always wanted to peek inside someone’s house in Paris to understand how the French live so well? Luckily, Jennifer L. Scott has opened the door to us readers and shares her experience as a study abroad student living with an aristocratic family in Paris.
Jennifer’s experiences as an American enjoying baguettes and jam for breakfast and tarte tatin for dessert, taking daily trips to the market, learning what the French wear to bed, studying how they present themselves from clothes to makeup, and uncovering the secrets of how to really live well are all carefully and wonderfully explained in “Lessons From Madame Chic, 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living In Paris.”
The amazing thing about the life of this book is that it started out as a blog, http://www.DailyConnoisseur.com Jennifer noticed that one of her blog posts about lessons from Paris was very popular. She took a class with Alan Watt of the “90 Day Novel” from the L.A. Writers Workshop. After applying what she learned in the course, she wrote her manuscript and self-published it. It took off on Amazon (debuting as #2 in books about Paris) and almost made it into their top 100 best-selling books by reaching #112. The agents around the world sat up and took notice and it seems in less than a year, the book was out on the shelves by Simon and Schuster.
Reading this book is fun. Jennifer’s well-written descriptions make you feel like you are right there in Paris too. I could imagine the exhilaration of catching a secret concert at midnight outside the Louvre, the thrill of people watching while sipping coffee at the café, the delight in selecting cheese from the market, and decadence of dancing all night in a Parisian nightclub.
The whole time she was a student, she was also observing Madame Chic, the host mother of the family she was staying with. This family used their best plates every night. They played music after every dinner. They wore high quality clothes in high rotation and had very tiny closets. Their hairstyles were simple and easy to maintain. They lived without clutter. Madame Chic advised Jennifer on learning how to enhance her own beauty. She took these observations and lessons to heart. Jennifer did get to see how this family really lived, and they lived formally but without stress. They lived with routines that made the daily duties more easy.
I love getting this insider’s perspective. I like the romance of Paris and like to read several blogs that feature French fashion and living. Even if you aren’t a Francophile, you can glean so many morsels of information about the good life. Jennifer appreciates that we don’t live in France and neither does she. This is the real gift in her writing: she explains how to bring all these savory ideas into your own life. Jennifer is strongly inspired and has some firm opinions about what goes into having good manners. But she is equally generous in showing how she has struggled with some new behaviors like de-cluttering or over-sharing. Applying concepts like appreciating culture, playing music, making your meals special, using your very best and creating a 10-item wardrobe will get us a several steps closer to understanding the secrets of Parisian life.
In “Lessons from Madame Chic,” Jennifer teaches that there is an art to living well. Yes, she addresses perfume, posture and throwing a party. We learn how the French eat and how they exercise. But underlying all of this are clues to increasing your own self-confidence and joy in the world. Jennifer’s mentors Madame Chic and Madame Bohemienne both felt completely comfortable in their skin. Ultimately this is the best secret Jennifer shares, feeling comfortable with yourself and chic is the key to the je ne sais quoi French women seem to possess.
What favorite books, movies or blogs get you inspired about France?