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In this moving, tender memoir of losing a beloved spouse, the longtime editor of Texas Monthly, newly widowed, returns alone to a city whose enchantment he's only ever shared with his wife, in search of solace, memories, and the courage to find a way forward.
At the age of sixty-six, after thirty-five years of marriage, Gregory Curtis finds himself a widower. Tracy--with whom he fell in love the first time he saw her--has succumbed to a long battle with cancer. Paralyzed by grief, agonized by social interaction, Curtis turns to watching magic lessons on DVD--"a pathetic, almost comical substitute" for his evenings with Tracy.
To break the spell, he returns to the place he had the "best and happiest times" of his life. As he navigates the storied city and contemplates his new future, Curtis relives his days in Paris with Tracy, piecing together the portrait of a woman, a marriage, parenthood, and his life's great love through the memories of six unforgettable trips to the City of Lights.
Alone in Paris, Curtis becomes a tireless wanderer, exploring the city's grand boulevards and forgotten corners as he confronts the bewildering emotional state that ensues after losing a life partner. Paris Without Her is a work of tremendous courage and insight--an ode to the lovely woman who was his wife, to a magnificent city, and to the self we might invent, and reinvent, there.
About the Author
GREGORY CURTIS is the author of The Cave Painters: Probing the Mysteries of the World's First Artists and Disarmed: The Story of the Venus de Milo. He was editor of Texas Monthly from 1981 until 2000. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, Fortune, Time, and Rolling Stone, among other publications. A graduate of Rice University and San Francisco State College, he lives in Austin, Texas.
“When Curtis brings his private mourning rites and memories to Paris to mix them with newfound commitments and hopes, it’s a matter of life and death . . . His extremely long walks have an element of magical thinking, as if pounding this pavement as centuries of poetic flâneurs did before him might break down the iron doors of isolating grief and let in a new future . . . And he does discover and collect his own out-of-the-way marvels and curiosities, described in entrancing prose for readers who by then may be cheering on this lonesome, wounded, somewhat awkward knight of love and grief.” —Francisco Goldman, The New York Times Book Review
“Affecting, heartfelt . . . Curtis spotlights the pair’s tremendous meals, semi-comic traffic mixups and a memorable stag hunt . . . He shows their bonds deepening as the years of their marriage accrued, along with their beloved visits abroad.” —Sharyn Vane, Austin American-Statesman
“A tender and clear-eyed recollection of their best and worst times . . . Curtis returns to the city that he and Tracy loved together and learns to embrace its bounteous life on his own.” —Joyce Sáenz Harris, The Dallas Morning News
“An aching memoir of life as a widower . . . Though readers will feel Curtis’ pain, they will also share his joy—and perhaps relief—at being in a place both beautiful and anonymous. ‘Paris was not at all hostile, but Paris didn’t care whether I was there or not,’ he writes, finding comfort as a stranger in places both familiar and unknown. For those suffering from bereavement, a candid, moving book of commiseration and encouragement.” —Kirkus Reviews
“This captivating book will delight readers by sweeping them from locale to locale within the City of Light. Curtis's personal anecdotes and historic tidbits are written with a genuine tenderness and journalistic eye throughout . . . Although slated as a memoir, this touching work is just as much a love story and travel diary.” —Kelly Karst, Library Journal