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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Do Paris Like Hemingway! is a non-fiction travel guide written by Lena Strand. In her preface, the author discusses how she got the inspiration for writing this book. It began as she was watching Woody Allen's film, Midnight in Paris, wherein a time traveling character meets up with Hemingway, Picasso, and other famous authors, performers, and artists who lived in Paris in the early twentieth century. She began to wonder about their haunts, the places they used to frequent during their Parisian phase. To her surprise, many of those places were still in existence: hotels, cafes, restaurants and bars, and for the price of a drink or meal, a visitor to France can imagine themselves in a time gone by watching Josephine Baker or overhearing a heated discussion between Cubists and Fauves.
Lena Strand's non-fiction travel guide, Do Paris Like Hemingway!, is a fascinating and meticulously researched guide to the Parisian arts and letters scene that begins with an historical look at the evolution of the Paris cafe in the late 17th century and continues into the twentieth century. The first part of her guide, which covers The Belle Epoque, from 1871 through 1914, just before the First World War, includes a photograph that instantly had my imagination taking flight. It showed Mosie Kissling, Paquerette, and Pablo Picasso at Cafe de La Rotonde, and was taken in 1916 by Jean Cocteau. I couldn't take my eyes off this picture, especially the image of Picasso as a young man -- with hair. Then I read again the name of the photographer and, somehow, Strand had cast a spell over me as I studied that picture and the other marvelous photos she unearthed, and read on about the people and places that have loomed so large in my imagination.
And while some places are more tourist-oriented now, there are still cafes and bars around that have appeal to today's artists and writers. Got a cultural vacation on your bucket list? Grab a Paris map and a copy of this book, and start planning the adventure of a lifetime. Do Paris Like Hemingway! is most highly recommended.