Oh, my goodness! talk about “armchair travel”! The author has a sure hand as she carries us along with Bella, who is traveling in Europe on business for her New York fashion company. We open in Paris and she has recently caught up with an old acquaintance, Gianni Giambelli, who heads an age old fashion business in Paris and he has invited her for a drink at his hotel, the Crillon, after the day’s show. He also tries to persuade her to stay a few extra days in Paris and postpone her trip back to New York. He even says he’ll handle changing the plane reservations! (A keeper!) She is convinced easily enough and remains for a few days being wined and dined in the best spots in Paris–not hard to take–and the author gives us an effortless (on our part) tour of the city. Giambelli also hints at an upcoming important position in his firm that Bella might fill.
Eventually Bella heads back toward New York, on a trip towards her husband, Paul, in California. They have had a separation due to a conflict in schedules—he has been awarded a plum job in his research field which would involve his staying in California, but instead of joining him or staying with him, Bella opted to continue her work in New York. She wants to see if they can work things out and keep the marriage. After her flight to New York her trip is somewhat circular, a train trip going through New Orleans. On the way, she meets a fellow traveler, Jacques, and they become attracted to each other. He is a sophisticated European and years younger than she, but there is a spark between them and soon she’s being wined and dined in the best spots of New Orleans—the author again hitting the high notes of the city, even luring us in with the delicious treats of beignets. They ramble about the city of New Orleans, visiting jazz joints and drinking Sazearac and playfully talking in first year French phrases. He calls her “countess” and she calls him “Jack” to toy with Americanizing his name. They laugh a lot and she wonders if it is possible to make a choice of someone younger than her “certain age” and whether or not she should continue on west to be with her husband Paul.
The story never falters as we zip along, almost on tour as well, and the book’s 200 pages are a delight as we eat and drink only the best on this make believe journey of ours.
It’s a book that the world needs right now—easy, light, and
“food for thought” (!) as we ponder what Bella’s final choice will be.