Jennifer Coburn’s novels jump off the shelves, her characters leaping from the pages and sticking with you long after you close the book for the night. In We’ll Always Have Paris I have to remind myself Jennifer and Katie exist in this universe with the rest of us – and I’m so glad that they do.
Coburn’s memoir expertly weaves memories of her rock-n-roll father with the excruciating fear and hope of spending precious time with her daughter before it’s too late. The result is a page turner that’s simultaneously a thrilling travel journal, foodie’s dream and heart wrenching retrospective.
The books begins when Katie, Jennifer’s daughter, is 8 years old. The house is in desperate need of repairs and money is tight, but Jennifer decides it’s time to start making memories. After her own father died when she was just 19 she’s already anticipating the worst for her daughter. Even though her husband can’t take time off work, Jennifer decides the time is now. Right now.
From 2005 to 2013, they travel more than a dozen times, including Paris, London, Rome, Amsterdam, Salerno, Florence, Venice and Barcelona. Dusty memories from Jennifer’s youth sprinkle the often hilarious new memories being created. One minute, readers are silently weeping as Coburn expertly takes us with her to her father’s battle with cancer. Another we’re crying with laughter as she teaches the ferry driver that “These beaches are unique” and “This bitch is eunuch” are two very different phrases.
To accompany the novel, Jennifer posted photos from throughout the year on her website. Is it possible that Katie and I are travelers separated at birth? That’s me on the left in Barcelona, and Katie on the right in Prague.
Whether you have an undying need to see all of Europe, are a mother longing to recreate treasured memories with your kids, or just love Jennifer Coburn as much as we do, this book is a must read. With summer creeping slowly in, this is the perfect time to grab a copy, read it tonight and start planning your own epic trip. Whether you’re accidentally getting high in front of your kids (see: space cakes, Amsterdam, page 342) or attending a free opera in San Marco Square (Venice, page 188) this book will sing to your soul.
Pair We’ll Always Have Paris with Anna Maria Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2008 from Valley View Winery. Just as Coburn’s new memoir took years to cultivate the perfect mother/daughter adventure, this complex dessert wine was formed drop by drop from frozen grapes waiting to release their own sweet story.
And while you grab a glass and wait for the book to download to your Kindle, listen to the song Jennifer’s dad wrote, Only a Fool, performed by Mighty Sparrow:
Can’t get enough Jennifer Coburn? Neither can we. Check out our reviews of her other incredible novels:
Field of Schemes
I’ve never been a soccer player, but Coburn’s latest hit scores major points.
Did someone say Thin Mints?
Tales from the Crib
I don’t know what’s in the air, but right now I can’t get enough baby books.
The Queen Gene
A book so deliciously addictive it’s hard to tear myself away to refill my wine glass.