Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Book Review ~ "Mademoiselle London Loves Paris"

POSTED IN:  ~ PublicationsReviews ~ Poetry

Mademoiselle London Loves Paris

by Franki Goodwin & Katya Jezzard-Puyraud
Self-published 2010

Book Review

Where many people would follow their name at the end of their promotional e-mails with job titles or impressive responsibilities like 'Artistic Director' or 'Lifestyle Coach', the authors of Mademoiselle London sign off with the admittedly eloquent:

'Art and Poetry without the wank'.

A French translation is provided.

These London girls, you will notice, do things a little differently.
[By The Way: Click on the words 'YouTube' in the bottom right of this little video here to pop out the video version of this review! You know it makes sense! ==> ]
Born of a serendipitous meeting between the artist Franki Goodwin and writer Katya Jezzard-Puyraud, their initial inspiration quickly developed and grew into what we see today; a curious little volume of words and pictures, haphazardly tracing some of the moments in the life of their alter-ego, Mademoiselle London, as she chugs and chunders through the Parisian social stratosphere.

The book is very nicely produced but still has a pleasing scrapbook layout which complements the unexpectedness of each page turn.

Judging by the number of positive reviews I've already seen of Mademoiselle London {Hearts} Paris, the ladies have done a great marketing job on their highly individual creation. Photo shoots have followed interviews which followed launch parties, and if there's one thing Kat and Franki know how to do, it's give a lively launch party, judging by the pictures I've seen.

But much as I don't want to write exactly the same as all those other reviews, I do feel I should say a bit more about the book in question.

In a nutshell, it's three of my favourite words all in one place: cute, quirky and curious. Thirty two pages, plus the non-negligible cover, make this a bite-sized chunk of off-beat British charm. The pictures are lovely - characterful coloured-in line drawings which effectively capture the wide-eyed bewilderment which Paris serves up for these two London lassies wondering where the party (or at least the English approach to boozing and shagging) went. That is the British shag, by the way, not the US dance steps.

If you've spent
your youth
drinking cheap
cider at North
London bus stops,

I think I know where they're coming from, having done the bus stop thing myself, growing up in Enfield (North London) you see.

The majority of the book, though, is not so much brash and bawdy as reflective and often melancholy. The feeling that comes across is that of a girl misplaced in space and time, struggling with culture clashes and composite tenses; they may not like me saying this, but I'm more inclined to be touched by this tale than laughing out loud on the metro, as some reviewers have claimed to do. That must be my sensitive poetic soul getting affected, right?

Indeed, apparently this slim volume has met with a certain success in the hallowed halls of the women's magazines, where it has been Pic of the Month, This Week's Surprise Find, and more. Just what the chilly French dames, derided and stripped bare, to an extent, within its pages, really think of these two kooky Brits on an irreverent rollercoaster ride over the prickly hedges of Parisian mores, is another question.

On the face of it, they seem delighted, in an open-mouthed, ooh-là-là sort of way, with what the authors serve up, faithfully translated throughout the book for their delectation. On the other hand, French high society will never turn into Little Britain overnight, which does no harm at all to Mademoiselle London's curiosity value of course.

Said the Little Lapin Chaud
As he sat at the bar
Sipping his piss-poor demi
Sneaking peeks at himself in the mottled mirror
Behind the dusty liquors that no one drinks
Fluffing his fur and
Looking over his shoulder
To see what new meat
Had been delivered on the tourist truck

Having said that, there's a new generation of French girls who are less conventionally stylish and more lippy, busy snapping up nouveau-feminist magazines like Causette where cover stars don't wear make-up and topics aren't limited to the latest must-have handbag and how to keep your homme happy with the perfect blow-job. And that's the editor of Causette himself who came up with that last example.

OK, so Amy Winehouse throwing up on the pavement isn't quite a late-teen role model here yet, where she is laughed at as the perfect example of British non-savoir-faire, but publications like Mademoiselle London Loves Paris (sometimes) are in fact all part of a subtle 'getting real' by a certain sector of the French public.

As is often the case with published matter, it's not always easy to separate fact from fiction, and I suspect that the truth with Mademoiselle London lies somewhere in between.

What the authors have achieved is something I am truly in admiration of: the creation of a genuinely original character, with bags of potential (Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Channel... can she handle it?) and a wonderfully strong image which should take her far beyond her currently less than perfect position as Little Lost Girl meeting all the wrong Hot Froggies on the hunt for foreign pussy cats in the Big P.

I'm looking forward to seeing where they go with this, as much from the marketing point of view as anything else (I am a guy, after all).

Will they be able to surmount simple curiosity value and become an international publishing phenomenon? Will Emma Watson be playing our heroine in the film adaptation and have the rights been sold already? Is  Mademoiselle London on Meetic, and if so will we hear about some of the creepos she meets in her next book? Not that I've ever been one of those creepos, you understand. I think we should be told. Without the wank.

© 2011 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly with suggestions, questions and requests, thanks.


Andi said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog, great review of Mademoiselle London! I don't know why you weren't in my reader, but you are now! I have a blogging friend who is French but lives in the San Fran Bay Area and goes back to France a lot, she writes about fun things to do with kids there, thought you might be interested:

Sab said...

Hey Andi! Thanks for stopping by my blog, great review of Mademoiselle London! I don't know why you weren't in my re.. OH! Hang on, you just said that! Well, I can too, I guess, it all works both ways! ;-D

I'm not sure I agree with your promoted link's basic premise that 'Travel is more fun with kids' though. (does the writer have any? ;-)

And I'm afraid the lead article, "Do not miss the Year of the Rabbit Celebrations this week-end at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum" doesn't quite fit in with my short-term plans, but certain factions in Paris also celebrate this event, as I describe here! Thanks for stopping by :-)

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