By: Julie Scolnik
Publisher: Koehler Books
Publication Date: October 2021
Reviewed by: Kimberly Trix Lee
Review Date: February 17, 2022
First loves are unforgettable. All of the enchanting moments and the giddy romance where nothing seems impossible and love trumps all. In Paris Blue: A Memoir of First Love by Julie Scolnik, we find out all about the indelible first love that she carried with her for 25 years.
It was 1976 and Julie Scolnik, a 20-year-old American student, had just arrived in Paris to study the flute and literature. The City of Lights fascinated her with its rich culture, quaint cafes, and intriguing residents and, with her strong grasp of the language, she was able to assimilate pretty quickly. Despite that, feelings of loneliness still sometimes caught up with her until she eventually found a local choir where she signed up to sing as a soprano. This was where Julie first laid eyes on the quiet and intelligent-looking handsome man in the bass section of the choir. The choir placement made it easy for her to continue sneaking glimpses at him until one day, she decided that just observing from afar was no longer enough and she finally took the chance to approach him. From that moment on and for the next twenty-five years, her life would never be the same.
Julie was enamored with the reserved tax lawyer, Luc. The big issue was that the older man was already married with a three-year-old son but Julie took his word that Luc and his wife were already separated and that the marriage would soon be dissolved. With this assurance as well as Luc’s news that he could probably go and work in the US, their affair bloomed. Theirs was a winter romance with the two of them bonding over their shared passion for classical music and opera. Until, of course, it was time for Julie to go back to the US. Luc’s poetic love letters kept Julie hopeful and reassured of the love they shared until, when Julie was 22, Luc went to the US for the summer to study English. From the moment Julie picked him up at the airport, he was disgruntled and irritable, demanding and ungrateful. He was disrespectful to her parents and showed utter indifference when Julie cut her finger with a kitchen knife. Gone was the lovely man who she loved deeply. Five days after Luc landed in the US, Julie left him with a goodbye letter. Weeks after, Julie went back to the apartment and came face-to-face with Luc’s wife and what began as a winter romance would turn into years of confusion and pain.
Paris Blue is a coming-of-age story about a young woman who had a romantic affair with a married Frenchman in 1976. It’s a story about love and heartbreak and the desire for closure all set against the enchanting backdrop of music. It was an emotional rollercoaster ride, with me feeling the need to warn the 20-year-old Julie against having an affair with a married man (with a child!), then feeling proud of the 22-year-old Julie for finally taking a stand and getting out of such a messy relationship, then just a few pages after, feeling like I wanted to tear out my hair when Julie came back to the Boston apartment she had just left. Ten, fifteen, twenty-five years later and after very many instances of questionable decisions made by the full-grown adult Julie and me feeling the frustration of an outsider who can see the situation objectively, I applaud the author for the sheer honesty in sharing this story to the world, laying bare all of the flawed thoughts and questionable decisions made by the narrator/author. This was a well-written story and Scolnik took the readers to 1976 Paris with her emotionally charged descriptions and personal introspection.
Quill says: Paris Blue is a memoir that is both a love letter to Paris and music and a closure of an indelible first love.
For more information on Paris Blue: A Memoir of First Love, please visit the author's website at: www.juliescolnik.com/