Review: Paris Letters by Janice Macleod


Title: Paris Letters

Author: Janice Macleod

Published: Pan Macmillan Au March 2014

Status: Read from March 20 to 21, 2014 β€” I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

With a single suitcase in hand, former Californian copywriter Janice Macleod abandons her stultifying career and heads off to Europe sharing her journey in this memoir, Paris Letters.

Thirty four and single Macleod realised that despite her successful career as middle management in an advertising agency affording her a (more than) comfortable lifestyle, she was dissatisfied with her life. In 2010 inspired by The Artist’s Way written by Julie Cameron and a comment from a colleague, Janice began making plans to reinvent her life. She began by journaling (and blogging) every day and devising ways to save $100 a day to fund a years travel. A year later she quit her job and took off to explore Europe.

il_570xN.576787539_nfzvParis Letters is a record of Janice Macleod’s journey which includes brief treks through Scotland and Italy before she decides to settle in France, having met a French-speaking Polish butcher on the streets of Paris and fallen in love. Having found happiness but needing a way to fund her prolonged stay in Paris, she takes inspiration from artist Percy Kelly and his illustrated letters to his penpal. Utilising an Etsy store front begins creating and selling letters adorned with her watercolour paintings of Paris scenery quickly amassing over 1,000 subscribers. By the end of 2012, Janice is engaged to Christophe, has a book deal and is living her dream.

In many ways this is an inspirational memoir of a woman who has changed her life for the better, in others I feel that Paris Letters is somewhat disingenuous. It could be that I’m jealous. Macleod manages to save in a year (nearly US$65,000), more than my husband earns to support our family of six, while still paying for rent, utilities, car payments, a housekeeper(!) and general living expenses, despite her pared down lifestyle. While I do admire Macleod’s commitment to her goal, which was achieved with some sacrifice and hard work, few would have the opportunity to emulate her success and the author fails to acknowledge her privileged position. It’s also clear that Macleod always intended to write a book about her experience (she has previously co-authored two books) but it would be mean spirited to begrudge the author her success, and happiness.

Paris Letters is a charming memoir, an inspiration for office drones everywhere and ideal for Francophiles who dream of escaping the daily grind to live in City of Light.

Skeletons is available to purchase from

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9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mystica
    Mar 23, 2014 @ 18:42:03

    I am envious!



  2. Marg
    Mar 23, 2014 @ 18:53:24

    I think i want to read this, although the idea of saving this amount of money to live there is impossible in my circumstances.



  3. Jade @ Bits & Bobs
    Mar 24, 2014 @ 02:47:01

    $65,000 in a year? That’s just crazy! I don’t think many at all would be able to do such a thing. This does sound like an interesting read though. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.



  4. Teddyree
    Mar 24, 2014 @ 12:29:49

    I was sure this was on my wishlist but maybe I’m confusing it with something else, one that had French cooking as central theme. Still sounds good but saving that much money in a year is the stuff of fairytales lol



  5. Janice MacLeod
    Mar 24, 2014 @ 20:28:18

    Great synopsis of the book. To add a little more insight, the average salary for the job is $86,000 and the government takes a third. Add 12 hour days over the course of 14 years… I think I earned that salary. It’s a matter of scrimping, saving, intending, investing and selling. I wouldn’t have sold my car and all my household belongings any other year, which helped up the number. It’s not a fairytale. It’s a real possibility. I outline 100 ways I did it at the end of the book. Cheers!



  6. Erin @ Quixotic Magpie
    Mar 25, 2014 @ 02:57:14

    Hmm. It might put me off too, reading about how easily she was able to save and move there. I didn’t care for that in Eat, Pray, Love either; I could go on and on about that book so I will spare you.



  7. Jen G. (The Introverted Reader)
    Mar 25, 2014 @ 12:57:14

    This sounds intriguing as it’s something I dream about on long workdays. But I had to look at that “saving $100 a day” thing a few times. Holy cow. I’m in the wrong business!



  8. Melinda
    Mar 27, 2014 @ 00:34:52

    Sounds like a lovely read! I like the cover too



  9. Jo
    Mar 27, 2014 @ 03:19:17

    This sounds interesting, but I was thinking as I read the description … $100/day! I can hardly even imagine.



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