I recently read and reviewed Relish, a graphic memoir by Lucy Knisley, so when I heard she’d written an earlier memoir called French Milk, I immediately requested it from our library. I enjoyed this journal-like memoir of writing and drawing from a month spent in Paris with her mother. Although it is a travel memoir, there is a strong focus on food, which you might expect if you read Relish.
When she was 21 years old, Lucy and her mother spent a month in Paris during winter break, in part to celebrate Lucy’s 22nd birthday and her mother’s 50th. She traveled from Chicago, where she was attending school, back home to upstate New York to her mother’s house, and then they traveled together to Paris where they had rented an apartment. Lucy chronicles their trip in this “drawn journal,” filled with drawings, photos, and hand-written text.
With a full month to spend in Paris, Lucy and her mother fully explored the ancient city, going to museums, cemeteries, churches, and other sights, as well as shopping and walking all over the city. Oh, yes, and they ate! Lucy details all the wonderful foods the encountered in Paris, from small cafes to bakeries to fancy dinners to the simple dinners they made in their little apartment with ingredients from the local market. Through her photos, drawings, and descriptions, Lucy takes the reader along on their foodie journey.
|Sample page from French Milk|
This memoir is much less polished than Relish. It is, as Lucy describes on the first page, truly a trip journal, something done as much for herself as for others. In addition to details about the sights they saw and the foods they ate, she also shares her somewhat rocky feelings. Turning 22 feels momentous to Lucy, and she often feels torn between adolescence and adulthood. She writes about these complicated feelings very openly and honestly.
I’ve only been to Paris myself once – back when I was 16 years old (a loooong time ago!) – and reading about Lucy’s adventures made me want to go back. Lucy had a unique opportunity to not just visit someplace as a tourist but to live there for a while and really soak in its ambience and flavors, both culinary and cultural. She does an excellent job of conveying that experience in this slim book. I enjoyed visiting Paris vicariously through Lucy’s charming journal, and I can’t wait to read her more recent graphic memoirs.
193 pages, Touchstone (Simon & Schuster)