The road to Paris leads through Tennessee and Glen Ellyn, all converging at a special event Saturday. Jennie Fields, author of "Age of Desire," a fictionalized book about Edith Wharton's steamy years in France, will be featured at a luncheon serving a "Menu du Salon de Paris" in her honor, organized by the Glen Ellyn Public Library, Bistro Monet and The Bookstore in Glen Ellyn, whose event planner and blogger Margie White shares the personal adventure that brought it about and gave birth to a blog perfect for Francophiles.
You had a traveler's dream come true.
Last year, I was lucky enough to accompany my husband on a one-year business assignment in Paris. I made arrangements with Jane Stroh, the owner of The Bookstore, to keep writing their newsletters from my new home in Paris. But I also decided to start a Paris travel blog that would focus on my Paris passions: art and books. I would read a book set in Paris, and then head out with my Paris arrondissement maps to find the scenes from the books. Then I'd share my photos and adventures on my blog. 'Age of Desire' … was one of my favorite Paris books.
Were you a reader of Edith Wharton's works?
I have been a long-time fan of Gilded Age author Edith Wharton, so when I heard there was a book coming out about her years in Paris, I couldn't wait to read it. Luckily, many of the places mentioned in the book were still standing, from her homes on the rue de Varenne on the Left Bank, to her favorite hotels, pastry shops and restaurants on the Right Bank. I wrote up a story about my discoveries in a post called 'A Day in Paris with Edith Wharton.' Jennie Fields noticed my blog and posted a link on her own Facebook page. We started chatting online, and before I knew it, I got an idea. Jennie would make a perfect speaker. The Glen Ellyn Library offered to partner with The Bookstore and Bistro Monet so we could afford to bring the author from her home in Tennessee to Glen Ellyn.
Something special will be on the menu.
Chef Michel at the Bistro is a very sweet Frenchman. He just loves to design custom menus. Several years ago, when we hosted Stephanie Cowell, author of 'Claude and Camille,' the love story of Claude Monet and his first wife, (he) created a menu straight out of the book. This time, he has created a three-course menu inspired by the Paris salons that Edith Wharton used to frequent in the early 1900s.
During your sojourn in Paris, what else did you explore?
I tracked down the sites of such Paris-based books as 'The Paris Wife,' 'Sarah's Key' and 'The Greater Journey.' Some of my favorite books are art history books, so I also set off to explore the sites of famous paintings. I named my blog after a real-life boarding house for female American artists at the turn of the century, The American Girls Club in Paris. Needless to say, I had lots of fun. Since my return, I have taken the tours and photos from my Paris blog and I have developed a speech-and-slide show called 'Paris Wife and Beyond: A Literary Tour of Paris.' I have enjoyed sharing my love of Paris art and literature with local book clubs and organizations.
Find book and blog
What: Jennie Fields, author of "Age of Desire,” about Edith Wharton's years in Paris, will attend luncheon
Where: Bistro Monet, 462 N. Park Blvd., Glen Ellyn
When: Noon to 2 p.m. Saturday
How much: $20; book sold separately; limited tickets available at The Bookstore, 475 N. Main St., Glen Ellyn; 630-469-2891, www.justthebookstore.com
Margie White's blog:americangirlsartclubinparis.wordpress.com