The Most Beautiful walk in the world by John Baxter

Source – Review copy

John Baxter is an Ex-pat australian writer that has lived in Paris for a number of years ,he is also well-known for writing Film biographies of people such as Steven  Spielberg and George Lucas to name two .He currently gives guided Literary tours of Paris and has done so for a number of years ,this book is a collection of thoughts memories and information he has gathered in doing this for the past few years .He has also written two earlier books on Paris .

Now the books the most beautiful walk in the world is set up in short chapters each a little tale about the city and the people who have lived there .One main area’s John touches on is the 20’s the swinging paris of Hemingway , Fitzgerald ,Joyce and Gertrude Stein .He evokes the Spirit of these writers books as he describes ,Joyce’s Ulysses being published by Sylvia Beach the owner and publisher that ran Shakespeare and company in the 20’s ,Now that great shop keeps cropping up ,you sense John’s love for it history and how much it has touched writing  and writers in the past .Elsewhere we get the darker side of paris ,opium dens ,Underground attractions that were scary and popular in late 1800’s .He also tells of his and his families connection to the city christmas there ,meeting people and just the everyday ebb and flow he experiences .Another thread of chapters is of course food and cafes ,from how important the right tin of sardines can be to a french man to the great cafes of the twenties and how they have faired through to the present day .

Connetable produces a “vintage” sardine that retails for $14 a can.Buyers are advised to “put down” these like wine for a few years ,turning them occasionally to spread the flavour .

“what really threw me “,tim said later “was the fact you didn’t bat an eyelash .I thought it was some sort of practical Joke.”

He should have realized that the french ,serious at the best of times ,become positively reverent when it comes to food .

John buying sardines ,this made me laugh at how serious the french can be !!

I m so please I picked this from the e-mail I get from time to time from Harper perennial .It was one of the best travel books I ve ever read John’s love for paris just drips of the pages and like a good Bordeaux ,slowly gets you drunk with the city your self ,he breathes life into the figures you know that lived there ,but he makes the spirits still seem part of the fabric of Paris today .The short chapter and constant flow of little nuggets of info make you want to continue turning the pages ,he flies from places to places keeping the reader interested from page one to the end .I wanted to jump on the next flight with My darling wife and spend a week reliving this book Visiting the Various sights and sounds he described ,trying sardines at $14 dollars ,having a coffee in a famous cafe ,seeing Gertrude Stein favourite garden  .I ve had a brief visit to Paris a number of years ago and this has made me want to return more than ever to breathe up more of this wonderful city  ,but also pick up his two earlier books also about Paris .John has a website ,you can e-mail him to maybe try a walk in Paris with him ,if I do get to go there I may well do that and bring this book along !!!

What cities do you love ?

Have you been to Paris what did you enjoy ?

35 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Verity
    Jun 09, 2011 @ 11:46:56

    Had to read your review after you tweeted the title – what a great title! Have never been to Paris, would love to go.


  2. Bellezza
    Jun 09, 2011 @ 12:14:19

    What a wonderful, wonderful review! It makes me want to buy it right now, as I can see this would be the perfect book for so many people I know.

    My mother and I have gone to Paris many times in our life together, the last was in 2001 when we picked out my wedding dress there. That’s a whole other story for another time, but to say the least, it was a wonderful experience. Only, I’m not quite as thin as the French girlrs. Almost, but not quite,. 🙂

    Anyway, I want to tell Matt of A Guy’s Moleskine Notebook about this because he’s going to Paris at the end of the month, and I also want to let those who are participating in Tamara’s Paris in July Challenge. I’m so glad you loved this book, and that you shared it so spectacularly with us!


    • winstonsdad
      Jun 10, 2011 @ 14:47:39

      oh that sounds like a great trip Dolce ,I m sure it is a great book for anyone about to go to Paris ,there are some hints in the back as well .all the best sty


  3. The Book Whisperer
    Jun 09, 2011 @ 14:24:07

    Wow, wow, wow! I LOVE Paris and I love the title and cover of this book – it makes me want to dive in amongst its pages. What a lovely review, Stu. I think you should surprise Amanda and take her there for a weekend 🙂

    I am now going to trawl back through my emails from Harper Pereniel and see if I can bag myself a copy too 🙂


  4. sakura
    Jun 09, 2011 @ 15:27:50

    This sounds wonderful, Stu! I’m definitely going to get this for my dad (well, that’s just an excuse to get it for myself;P) It’ll go perfectly with Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast! It would be exciting to go to Paris after reading the book!


  5. Eva
    Jun 09, 2011 @ 15:46:24

    Putting this on my TBR list Stu! 🙂


  6. Vishy
    Jun 09, 2011 @ 16:50:31

    Wonderful review, Stu! I have been searching for reviews of John Baxter’s books, because he is such a delightful writer and I was surprised that more people haven’t read him. I am glad that you discovered this book of his and are planning to read his other books on Paris. He has written another beautiful book on Paris called ‘We’ll Always Have Paris’ which I read many years back and loved so much. Baxter has also written a book for bibliophiles called ‘A Pound of Paper’ which is about his book collection. I am going to add ‘The Most Beautiful Walk in the World’ to my ‘TBR’ list. Thanks for this wonderful review!


  7. Geosi
    Jun 09, 2011 @ 18:03:20

    A great review. I would have to put this on my wishlist.


  8. Rob
    Jun 09, 2011 @ 21:02:15

    Thanks for a great review Stu, this looks to be a bloody good one. Vishy mentioned ‘A Pound of Paper’. I’ve read that and loved it immensely. This one looks even better; not least because I too adore the literary scene in Paris during the 20s (mainly through Hemingway’s Moveable Feast)


  9. Tracey
    Jun 09, 2011 @ 21:03:06

    Stu – this sounds wonderful. Your review makes me want to read the book straight away and then jump on a plane to Paris! I recently read The Paris Wife about Ernest Hemingway and his wife and their time in Paris in the 1920s and loved that so this sounds like a perfect read to pick up soon.


  10. Kelly
    Jun 09, 2011 @ 21:17:00

    I just added this to my wishlist like 5 days ago because it looked so awesome. Loved reading your review, and now I really can’t wait to read the book!


  11. parrish
    Jun 09, 2011 @ 21:17:25

    Great review, made me want to visit, although my favourite city & one I at one time considered moving to lock, stock & barrel was Berlin.


  12. kimbofo
    Jun 09, 2011 @ 21:18:20

    Oh wow, this sounds like a fab book! I do love travel guides that have literary references. I went to Paris in 1999 — would love to go back, it’s such a pretty city.


  13. gina
    Jun 10, 2011 @ 00:58:29

    Looks like I’m not the only maniac about Paris and the Lost Generation and the like. 🙂 [not that I was under any delusion that I’m unique in this regard]
    Great review, Stu. I hope to read this soon!


  14. Lynne
    Jun 10, 2011 @ 02:15:48

    So glad you liked this one. I received an ARC this week and am looking forward to reading it as well.


  15. JoV
    Jun 10, 2011 @ 07:46:45

    I’m sold Stu! Great book cover, Travelogue, Paris… everything I need for a good book. Thanks for introducing this.


  16. Nana Fredua-Agyeman
    Jun 10, 2011 @ 21:01:21

    This book could be boring in the hands of other writers. But per your review I guess it is really interesting. Sometimes, if you cannot afford to travel – buy expensive tickets, pay for hotels and take a tour in addition – it is best to take your holidays through a novel.


  17. gaskella
    Jun 12, 2011 @ 10:48:57

    Sounds fabulous and I love that cover – I’m going to order a copy! I love Paris too. My favourite bits that are off the main tourist trails are the Musee du Moyen Age which has the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries which are magical, and the Place des Voges which is stunningly beautiful.


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June 2011


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