It must mean something, a dream that can propel you to the other side of the world. Couldn’t it be the heart wanting something it needs, this longing for elsewhere? After all, we are all strangers wandering around this planet, apparently lost most of the time, looking for something or someone – or some place.
What does it mean to fulfil a dream long after it seems possible? When Patti Miller arrives to write in Paris for a year, the world glows ‘as if the light that comes after the sun has gone down has spilled gold on everything’.
But wasn’t that just romantic illusion? Miller grew up in country Australia where her heart and soul belonged. Mother of grown-up boys with lives of their own, what did she think she would find in Paris that she couldn’t find at home?
She turns to French writers, Montaigne, Rousseau, de Beauvoir and other memoirists, each one intent on knowing the self through gazing into the ‘looking glass’ of the great world. They accompany her as she wanders the streets of Paris – they even have coffee together – and they talk about love, suffering, desire, motherhood, truth-telling, memory, the writing journey, how to know who we are in the family and in the cultures that shape us.
This story, of a year spent writing and reading in Paris, explores truth and illusion, self-knowledge and identity – and evokes the beauty, the contradictions and the daily life of contemporary Paris.