Book Review: “Paris, Part Time”


© 2020 by Lisa Baker Morgan 


Paris, Part Time

  • Author: Lisa Baker Morgan
  • Publisher: ciao yummy! (Los Angeles, California)
  • Publication Date: June 1, 2020
  • Genre: Memoir, 396 pages

Paris, Part Time will appeal to readers interested in food, parenting, photography, travel, France, and specifically, the process of buying property in Paris!

For author and personal chef, Lisa Baker Morgan, her affinity for France began in her French class at her Southern California high school. She later dreamed of visiting France, but her college classes and job offered little free time for her to travel or take part in study-abroad programs.

But thanks to her father, who gave her a plane ticket as a college graduation gift, Morgan finally got the chance to visit Paris! Soon after, she went to law school and fell in love with a fellow aspiring litigator. Eventually they got married and had two daughters.

After several years, however, the marriage ended. Morgan’s child custody arrangement allowed her to travel to Paris while her daughters were on school breaks and staying with their father in Los Angeles.

During one winter break, Morgan spent the holidays with friends in the south of France. During that trip, she contracted a bacterial infection that required surgery. While recovering in a Monaco hospital and consumed with thoughts of her mortality, Morgan decided to transform her dreams into an active “To-Do” list. At the top of that list were her dreams to become a chef and to move to Paris.

The book moves at an urgent pace illustrating Morgan’s determination to reach her goals. For instance, while her daughters were at school, she attended early morning cooking classes or created new recipes. While she was in France looking at Paris apartments, she took the opportunity to visit other parts of France to do some food research.

On occasion, she would unwind by meeting friends over cocktails or having dinner with a love interest. It seems that meeting new people was easy for her; she became acquainted with well-connected people wherever she went.

Through it all, I found myself cheering her on, much like a supporter on the sidelines handing out cups of water to runners at marathons, which Morgan also likes to run.

While she admits to having moments of doubt and wonders whether she was acting selfishly in pursuit of her dreams, she remained focused and optimistic.

“While it seems I am juggling a thousand things at once – from escrow and raising children on one continent to cultivating contacts and researching food and apartments on another – I know things will come together” (p.79)

Before reading this book, I had no clue about the process of buying property in Paris. The bottom line: learn all about the notaire (notary) process before you start. It’s helpful advice should you ever want to buy your own pied-à-terre in the French capital.

I liked how Morgan provides a realistic view of the process. Things didn’t always go as planned. There were misunderstandings. There were delays. There was even a stubborn lamp that just wouldn’t work, even with fresh lightbulbs! Since she was splitting her time between Los Angeles and Paris, coordinating telephone meetings across time zones made the process extra challenging.

In her writing, you do get the sense of Paris being part time as chapters alternate between her life in Los Angeles and her life in France. Throughout the book, Morgan sprinkles in some French words and expressions, which are followed smoothly by English translations. In addition, she tells time using the AM/PM 12-hour clock system that’s used in the United States.

Furthermore, she employs arrondissement numbers when describing movement from one Parisian district to another. This presumes the reader has prior knowledge of the snail-like configuration of the City of Light. Pas de problème! It’s not a problem, though – just keep a Paris map handy.

In the book’s slower parts, she effectively conveys the sense of calm she feels in certain moments, like shopping for fresh produce then slicing celery, onion, and carrots, or mirepoix, to make a flavor base for soup; tucking her daughters into bed, or folding and packing her daughters’ summer clothes into a suitcase.

Her writing contains beautiful descriptions. When she talks about the dishes she prepares, it makes you wish you had the recipes. Then, as if she’d just read your mind, voilà! The recettes (recipes) appear like tasty hors d’oeuvres in between chapters leaving you wanting more.

The book also features over 100 photographs taken by Morgan. Like the recipes, the black & white and color photographs are in between chapters so you can enjoy them in batches.

The book includes images of her young daughters, food from the marché, and the varied landscapes of the places she’s visited, like the French regions of Alsace, Normandy, Loberon, and Provence. Other French cities she’s traveled to include Gordes, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, and Colmar.

The takeaway from this gripping memoir is: You must follow your dream – if not now, when?

About the author:

Lisa Baker Morgan graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in English literature. She obtained her Juris Doctorate from Southwestern Law School and her culinary degree from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. Today, Morgan continues to divide her time between Paris and Los Angeles. Her eldest daughter will begin college in fall 2020. In 2022, her youngest daughter will follow, and Paris can then be “full-time.”

For many years, Morgan authored a travel and food blog. You can also find her on Facebook, TwitterPinterest, and Instagram.

Visit her website or Amazon to order the book.

Thanks/Merci to Lisa Baker Morgan for giving me a copy of her book, Paris, Part-Time, in exchange for an honest review.

Ski Week: the Mid-Winter Break

South Lake Tahoe – Hwy 50 (November 2012)

The mid-winter break in February is a new concept to me.

When I was in grade school (in the mid-’80s), all I got were two days off in February: one for President Lincoln’s Birthday and the other for President Washington’s Birthday.

These days, there are about 180 instruction days and about 75 no-school days in the United States.

Most schools have fall break (five days during the week of Thanksgiving in November); winter break (10 days in December/January); spring break (five days in March or April); and summer break (50 weekdays between June and August).

In addition, many schools observe five holidays (at least in California): Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday (January); César Chavez’s Birthday (March); Memorial Day (May); Labor Day (September); and Veterans’ Day (November).

Well, it seems the school holiday calendar is changing. For example, the school district in my city added yet another break during the school year: five days off in February — bringing the grand total to 80 no-school days!

The break is dubbed Presidents’ Week, Mid-Winter Break, or Mid-Winter Recess. The term Ski Week appears to be gaining popularity, too (whether or not you hit the slopes!)

However, for some parents with young children, frequent week-long breaks from school present a dilemma: Do parents send the kids to a camp for a week OR do parents take a week off from work, too?

My children get a mid-winter break from school this month and I have decided to join them! I’m thrilled and so grateful we get to take a family trip this year.

More to come on my “Ski Week”…

Behind the Scenes of a Senior Portrait Photo Shoot

j’adore the studio’s décor

Senior portraits are not ordinary photographs. They commemorate an important part of a young person’s life: the pinnacle of their high school career as they embark on a promising new phase in life. In that regard, taking senior portraits is a rite of passage in itself!

That said, I did not take a senior portrait for the yearbook.

At my high school, senior portraits were taken in a single day during the summer in the school cafeteria. If you couldn’t make it, you were out of luck as they didn’t have make-up picture days.

I thought, Besides, I couldn’t possibly take time off from my minimum wage part time summer job of warming hamburger buns, scrubbing potatoes, and dispensing Frosty desserts just to take a picture for the yearbook! Pfft.

I know, sour grapes! But I do take some comfort in knowing that I wasn’t alone. Adding insult to injury, my high school yearbook had a page listing the names of “Camera Shy Seniors.” We’d outnumbered the seniors who’d had portraits taken! So there!

But I don’t feel bad about missing out. Well, not anymore, thanks to a vicarious occasion I call: My Daughter’s Senior Portrait Photo Shoot!

I’d like to share what I learned:

📸You need to travel to the photography studio

Since my daughter’s high school works with a studio, senior portraits are not taken at the school cafeteria. For this photo shoot, we drove over 20 miles/ 32 km to the studio.

📸You need to arrive at the studio with hair and makeup done

📸You pay a sitting fee

The fee you pay varies depending on the type of photo you want: yearbook photo only; yearbook photo and one outfit; yearbook photo and two outfits; and so on.

📸You wear fake clothes for the standard yearbook picture

My daughter got a velvet drape Velcro’d to her over her clothes.

little sister snapped this pic

📸If you’ve selected an upgraded package, they will take your portrait in graduation gear

You are fitted with a gown along with a cap and tassel with graduation year. Then they’ll have you hold a leatherette diploma folder that’s gold-leaf embossed with your high school’s name in a fancy font, like Old English

📸If you’ve selected a further upgraded package, you go to another room with more backdrops

You can pose in regular clothes to show your personality. I saw some students wearing dance attire or athletic uniforms. One student posed with their pet! My daughter posed with her violin that she’s been playing since she was in middle school.

📸The entire photo shoot takes about 30 minutes (unless you take the yearbook photo only, in which case, you’re done in 5 minutes)!

After all the pictures were taken, I thought I’d be directed to another room to pore over sets of digital proofs. I thought I’d be unabashedly gushing over them. I thought I’d be suckered into buying prints of all of them. (And I would because proud mama.)

But I thought wrong. After all the pictures were taken, the studio said they would send an email with a link to view proofs and purchase prints. How efficient!

In terms of poses, props, and backdrops, overall, I’d say this senior portrait photo shoot was pretty similar to baby photo shoots they do at shopping mall studios! The only difference is who’s in tears! I’m not crying, you’re crying!

Wishing the Class of 2020 all the best! 🎓

Did you take high school senior portraits? Share your experience (and senior portrait, if you’d like) in the comments below!