Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Interview + Giveaway: Jacqueline Kolosov


Today I'm thrilled to welcome author Jacqueline Kolosov to the blog to answer a few questions about her upcoming release, Along the Way, and her fall release, Paris, Modigliani and Me. I had the pleasure of working with Jacqueline's publisher on the above cover, so I was really excited to have the opportunity to ask her a few Paris-related questions. Jacqueline is also generously offering up a copy of Along the Way to one lucky winner, so don't forget to check the bottom of the post for entry details!

We know Julie’s favorite artist is Modigliani. To help us get to know you a bit better, please tell us who your favorite artist is and which of their pieces you would say most accurately represents you as a writer.
This is an absolutely wonderful question, Jenny. I do not have one favorite artist, so if it’s okay with you I will talk about 2 of my favorite artists. I love to draw and paint, and I used to spend a great deal of time in museums when I lived in cities (Chicago, New York, Washington, D.C.). Modigliani is one of the artists closest to my heart, which is probably not surprising given the novel; and I wrote an entire book of poems, Modigliani’s Muse, a sort of biography in poems, that looks at the circle of people in his life, including Jeanne, or most centrally Jeanne. I’ve always been deeply moved by the tragedy and simultaneously by the integrity of his story—and hers. Modigliani was fiercely proud, and he really would not compromise his standards in art in order to turn a profit. Other artists turned to patrons who could pay by turning out flattering portraits. Not Modigliani. In fact, Jacques Lipchitz, whose wedding portrait Modigliani painted—it hangs in the Art Institute of Chicago—wanted Modigliani to spend more time on the portrait so that he could pay the artist more. Modigliani said, “What, you want me to ruin it?” A fascinating aside: in the early1900s Jacques and his wife sent the portrait to his family in Poland instead of a photograph—that’s how they celebrated the commemoration of their marriage. To cut to the chase, then, Modigliani is a favorite. I have always been deeply moved by his portraits. He painted ordinary people—maids, farmers, a gypsy musician—and his mysterious, elongated portraits, which were influenced by Gothic art (those solemn Madonnas in the churches) as well as by African masks, moved me deeply. I used to sit before them for, well, not hours, but for a long time. And as a child—my mom used to take me to the Art Institute—I used to sit and make up stories about the paintings, especially “Girl with a Necklace” which I encourage everyone to look up. It’s an absolutely beautiful and very happy painting, and I have a framed reproduction in my office at school. I suppose, then, “Girl with a Necklace” speaks to who I am as a writer precisely because of the stories it suggested and still suggests to me. Another painting is the early “Portrait of a Girl, 1917-1918.” Unlike the later works, in which Modigliani left the eyes blank, this girl’s face is partly turned, as if she is about to answer a question or tell a story. She’s lovely with long, red-brown hair, and there’s an innocence and simplicity to the portrait that continues to captivate me. I can look at her again and again and always find something new—and I hope my writing does a little bit of that as well. I cannot say that Modigliani’s portraits of Jeanne are among my favorites. Her story is far too full of sorrow for that. She gave up so much of herself to be with him. I feel immense compassion for Modigliani and Jeanne. Modigliani’s paintings are compassionate.

The other artist I’ll mention here is Mary Cassatt, whose work also hangs in the Art Institute. She was one of the two well known women among the Impressionists and the only American. (The other is Berthe Morisot, who was French.) Cassatt painted mothers and children; at least a great many of her paintings are of this pair, though she herself did not have children, nor did she ever marry. At the Art Institute, there is a painting of a woman washing her daughter’s feet in a small white basin; and this was another work that enthralled me as a child. When a friend gave birth to her own daughter, I made a copy (in oils) for the nursery. It’s just an intimate, deeply moving moment, and one that is simultaneously deeply ordinary. As a writer, I am drawn to “ordinary” moments in people’s lives. I love the fiction of Virginia Woolf whose To the Lighthouse is an autobiographical novel about a family (her own childhood) summering in St. Ives, a coastal town on the Atlantic. Of course it’s a great modernist novel in which she experiments with moving from one character’s consciousness to the next; but it’s full of ordinary moments within a family. It’s one of the most cherished books of my life. So Cassatt, like Woolf, captured those moments. I tried to do the same in the scenes between Julie and Genevieve, though the fashion-minded ten-year-old Genevieve is quite an extraordinary child who educates Julie a great deal about fashion during their summer together!
For someone like me who’s never been to Paris, what are the top 3 things Julie would say absolutely cannot be missed?

The Louvre. Julie raves about this museum in the novel and rightly so. It is full of treasures and is itself a treasure. The Louvre is immense, palatial, and one cannot possibly take its holdings in within a day, much less a week. And it’s really easy to get lost in the Louvre, which is both fun and frustrating. I cannot tell you how many times I made wrong turns on the way somewhere only to find myself discovering a work of art or a period or a culture that I had no intention of stumbling upon—and I never left worse for the experience. The new entrance is a glass pyramid leading to a long escalator that brings one down into the museum. That pyramid is spectacular as is the plaza surrounding it, one filled with tourists, pigeons and intense energy. The Decorative Arts Museum is a separate part of the Louvre, but like Genevieve (and to some extent Julie), I would not miss it, in part because one can take it in within a day; but mostly because the jewelry is beyond out-of-this world, everything from ancient Egyptian earrings to Marie Antoinette’s most lavish and ultimately most condemning diamonds.       
Within the Louvre itself, Julie would recommend the painting of Juliette Récamier on the chaise lounge—and yes, that story Madame Dupont narrates about David putting the moves on Juliette is true. The Mona Lisa is there, but frankly the way it’s set up is really freaky; and perhaps Julie should have commented on this. The Mona Lisa is encased in a plexi-glass box, and there is ALWAYS a huge line of people waiting to see her, except most of these people don’t really look at the painting; they photograph it (and I imagine the plexi-glass creates a glare), or they video tape it. Video tape a painting that doesn’t move? Hmm. I just don’t get it. I should have put that in the novel.

Next on the list is the Luxembourg Gardens or as the French say, the Jardin du Luxembourg. The Luxembourg is not just a garden; the Luxembourg is a world. It sits on land that was sacred to the Druids (pre-Christian people), and if memory serves, the land was later used for vineyards. Basically, it’s fertile. Catherine de Medici built a palace there in the early 17th century with elaborate gardens, etc. Today the gardens and the extensive grounds are open to the public. It’s the most family-centered garden in Paris, and also most conducive to lovers as well as to clusters of old people who sit with their knitting or their newspapers or just turning their faces to the sun. On one trip to Paris, a research trip, I spent most of the week sitting or strolling through the Luxembourg. I wrote a long poem about the garden and simultaneously a story. I guess I’m revealing that the garden is more important to me than to Julie; but she and Genevieve spend hours there. It’s one of Genevieve’s favorite places in Paris, and it quickly becomes one of Julie’s. The part of the garden that Genevieve likes contains an exquisite, old carousel where the children do indeed try to catch a brass ring. There is also a jungle gym the size of a small house that would never pass the safety standards here in the U.S., but the kids love it. And no one ever seems to get injured (fortunately). And yes, there are pony rides. In another corner very fancy or highly specialized pears are cultivated. There’s even a beehive. What draws many, many children—the majority of them boys—as well as older men wearing berets—is the boat pond, a rectangular pond that is home to a variety of beautifully-crafted sailboats. Did I mention the various cafés in the park that serve tea and coffee and pastries? As well as the stands selling cotton candy, enormous lollipops and other treats? Paris’s famous horse chestnut trees line the pebble paths, and there’s a section devoted to statuary of famous women, Paris’s St. Genevieve among them. Even with this rambling list, I’m sure I’ve left something out. But the key thing is this: in the Luxembourg, one can find absolute calm as well as entertainment of all kinds. The hundreds upon hundreds of chairs and lounges invite visitors to people watch.

The Louvre and the Jardin du Luxembourg came immediately to mind, but this third site is so much harder. I would not single out the Eiffel Tower which can be seen from most places in Paris and is less enchanting up close than it is from a distance. The Marais is a marvelous old neighborhood full of boutiques and cafés and remains home to Paris’s Jewish community—it has a beautiful synagogue that was damaged during World War II. I suppose, I would have to single out Walking Along the Seine as the Third Must See or Do in Paris. And in a way this allows me to cheat and get in some of my favorites. For example, you can get a terrific view of Notre Dame, particularly of the gargoyles that figure in the novel, from either side of the river. Many boats dock along the Seine, and some have outlandish, foreign titles. I’ve seen boats with all sorts of foliage on deck, including smallish palm trees. I’ve seen boats with all sorts of fancy dogs—and believe me, the French do love their dogs! Occasionally, a barge comes down the Seine; the sound is incredible. Mostly, though, walking along the Seine is so calming, a reprieve from the bustle of the city, and the noise. And the shifting light on the water, the palette of sky, well both are incredible. And, and, and, walking always allows for people watching. Not all of it’s glamorous though. On my last trip, some six years ago now, I saw plenty of homeless encampments. And in a strange way, or maybe just in a realistic way—as in the portraits of the ordinary people that Modigliani painted—the coexistence of the homeless alongside chic Parisians out for a stroll feels right. Not just, but true. There are extremes in Paris, as everywhere; and walking, especially along the Seine, allows such glimpses…and plenty of time for thought.

What’s one interesting tidbit or fact about Modigliani’s life that you didn’t know before you began researching Paris, Modigliani and Me?

As I indicated above, my interest in Modigliani and my writing about his life and art go way back to my childhood. I first began writing about him in 2002 when I was blessed with the opportunity to participate in the Writing Studio at the Banff Center in the Canadian Rockies. The center has a phenomenal library of art books, and I checked out half a dozen books about Modigliani and drafted my first poems there. Pretty funny, really, to be in the midst of mountains and to travel back to 1918 in Paris…but that’s how the imagination can work. In 2004, I went to Paris to research Modigliani’s life—to visit the places he frequented and ideally to find his studio. And I did find it, and although it is not on the grounds of a restaurant owner’s property, the studio windows do look out onto the courtyard of a restaurant that allowed me to explore the environs. Although I did not go into Modigliani’s studio—how I would love to be able to say that I did!—I did find that water fountain that was the source of water for Jeanne and Modigliani while they lived on the Rue de la Grande Chaumière. It didn’t take me long to realize just how difficult life must have been for them, for Jeanne especially, as she was the one in the more domestic role of mother to their daughter and caretaker of their home in the studio, such as it was. This meant that she would have had to go up and down several flights of stairs in order to fetch water in all kinds of weather. I have so many anecdotes that it is difficult to include just one, so I will add one more. Modigliani did frequent cafés where the wine was cheap—unlike the pricier Montparnasse café that Monsieur Rimbaud’s grandfather ran (in the novel). Modigliani is famously and rather sadly known for his drinking and drug abuse; and movies have often portrayed him as a quintessential bohemian artist. Really, he was a troubled soul who did not find success or recognition for his genius. The “tidbit” here then is not so much that he frequented cheap cafés so that he could drink. It’s much more complex, as I hope my novel portrays. He was a true artist, one who would not compromise his standards in order to make money. This could be depressing, but it also gave him a kind of integrity. And what Monsieur Rimbaud says is true: Modigliani would give away his sketches made at these cafés. He was not so much cavalier—I love that word—but he was generous, in his own way.
If you were to attend the Art Institute of Chicago, Julie’s dream school, what type of classes do you think you’d excel in or struggle with most?
Another splendid question, Jenny, as I would have loved to go to art school—if I’d had another lifetime. (Or I would have loved to start learning horses and dressage at age 10 instead of decades later. And as I type, I am sitting with ice on my knee, as I took a crazy fall from my horse today, a minor one fortunately….) I love to paint. And I love to work in oils, though it’s been more than a decade since I’ve done so. When I was living in Chicago (my home town) and had just finished college, I took a class at the Art Institute in oil painting, part of the continuing education program there, so I could “cheat” a little and say that I would take classes in oils. Like Modigliani, I like to work quickly. If the instructor were to insist that I work with painstaking detail, I would not do well. Very careful, meticulous kinds of work—well, this is not my forte (despite the fact that I am very meticulous about my writing and continually revise and edit and work on rhythm, word choice…). So, to not stray from the point, I would not do well in a course that required that kind of attention. And that’s rather interesting, I think, given that my father was an engineer; and he is a superb draftsman with phenomenal and highly necessary attention to detail. I believe I’d excel in a mixed media class. I have played a little with this on my own, and I am drawn to such art in galleries and museums. Mixed media is just what the name suggests, a work of art that incorporates more than one medium. So I’d love to take a course that integrated painting, collage, and other techniques and brought in lots of materials like beeswax and fabric. Another class I’d struggle with is performance art. Julie learns that her father enacted a version of this when he posed as a gargoyle on Notre Dame (not long before his mental breakdown). Performance art is not my thing. Nor are big installations that shout “I’m avant garde!” And what I mean by this is that I just don’t get those installations the size of a house that look like plumbing for a giant. Not that I don’t like all installations. I’ve seen a few that I love! That said, if I was asked to build a miniature version of Alice in Wonderland, I would love that as long as I had free range when it came to materials. It would be incredible fun to shape mushrooms and caterpillars and Mad Hatters out of clay and then paint them and bring in moss and all sorts of other “found” materials to bring the world to life. I hope this answer is not too all over the place. It’s been fun to even begin to consider!

While the art scene in Paris is undoubtedly amazing, I think the food in the City of Light would mostly likely be one of the biggest draws for me. Hello there, pastries. What are the top 5 Parisian foods you wouldn’t fly home without eating?

Yes, Paris is known for its food and rightfully so. Though as Julie discovers when she sees how tiny Claire’s kitchen is, many people in the heart of Paris, especially those living in newer apartments, don’t have grand cooking spaces. So take out is more popular than you would think! But about the 5 foods that I highly recommend, hmm, that is a delicious challenge. I do not eat meat, so I will rule out that category. I’d begin by sending a traveler to a very good bakery, not necessarily a patisserie, which is about pastry, but a bakery or boulangerie (I love the fact that France makes a distinction) that makes hearty, whole grain breads. The grain is Europe is different than that in the U.S., and bread is chewier. I would have a lot more trouble going gluten free in Europe than in the U.S. Anyway, food #1 is very good bread with a little butter, simple and delicious.    
Food #2 is brioche, and this is a bakery staple, though you can find it at a patisserie as well. Brioche has a high butter and egg content which makes it rich and tender. Ideally, it’s light and slightly puffy, with a golden, flaky crust. Sometimes brioche contains raisins. I love raisins, but my 8 year old daughter does not. It is eaten at breakfast with coffee and can also be served as dessert. It’s exquisite. Sometimes a little brandy is added to the mix. And a further “tidbit” or crumb about brioche: Marie Antoinette actually said “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche” or “Let them eat brioche.” Brioche isn’t really cake, but it’s not humble bread either. Marie had a hard time, and she makes an appearance in the novel—or her jewels do—and some strange (but true) stories.
My third MUST TRY is cappuccino. Yes, we have Starbucks and all sorts of cafés now; but there is nothing like sipping and truly savoring a cappuccino served in a white cup with a white saucer at a café in Montparnasse or, better yet, in the Marais or just around the corner from the Luxembourg Gardens, preferably on a day warm enough to sit outside at a café table that overlooks the street. Parisian cappuccino is heavenly, and partly it’s the atmosphere, the way the city smells and sounds become absorbed in the experience. And of course I love the clink of cup on saucer….       
Now, to find #4 is  more difficult. I need to include a dessert here, so my choice (drum roll please) is crème brûlée, a rich custard topped with a layer of hard caramel. It’s traditionally flavored with vanilla, and I would recommend that because the vanilla brings out the delicacy of the custard and the contrast of caramel. That said, the Madeleine, a cookie-like, sweet tea cake shaped like a scallop shell, served with tea, is pretty close to heaven, too; but not quite as close.   
Finally, I would not leave Paris without eating fondue, ideally in the company with someone with whom you are incredibly comfortable though not necessarily in love, in a cozy restaurant, preferably one with brick walls and lots of candlelight. Fondue is a big pot of melted cheese served in a pot over a flame. It comes with bread, potatoes, apples, and other good things for dipping. Sharing fondue is an intimate experience and a fun one. I wish, now, that Julie and Clay could have gone out for fondue; but their most memorable meal (in the novel anyway) is pizza. Yes, you can find pizza in Paris; but I would not recommend it unless one is desperately homesick…. Stick to simple bread and cheese; or better yet, as I said, bread and butter.

To say just a little something about Along the Way, my novel coming out on April 1, it begins in Paris with one of the three main characters, Tessa, savoring her morning brioche in a hotel room on the Rue des Fleurs which overlooks the Luxembourg Gardens. There is such a hotel, and I have stood outside it sort of wishing that I could stay there one day, though it’s pricey, so that’s probably out of the question. Despite this rather luxurious opening, the novel takes Tessa and her two childhood friends, Piper and Dani, to the French Pyrenees and then into Spain as they walk the Camino of Santiago or Way of St. James. They eat a great deal of bread and cheese along the way, and food figures prominently in this novel, more so than in Paris, Modigliani & Me; and that’s probably and practically because walking the Camino takes energy. They walk some 300 miles over the course of 33 days before they reach Santiago. Along with bread and cheese, they savor plenty of chocolate (which melts sometimes in the sun); and they pack many, many apples each day. And although they drink tea, coffee, and wine, their staple is water. Right now, I am hosting a contest in connection with Along the Way (and I’ll surely follow up with a contest for Paris, Modigliani & Me when it comes out on October 1). Interested readers (and I hope there will be many!) can find out about the contest on the CONTEST page of my web page/blog at www.jacquelinekolosovreads.com. My novels can be purchased directly from the publisher or from Amazon. That said, I will joyfully! send any reader a signed copy (along with a bookmark) if he/she wants to contact me directly. Details can be found on my web page.

Thank you again, Jenny, for inviting me to share these stories. The experience has given me a yearning for overseas travel—yes, Paris; and I would love a brioche right now, though my drink of choice (at 11 pm) would be chamomile tea and not cappuccino.
You're very welcome Jacqueline! *craves crème brûlée for the rest of the day*

• • • • • • • • • • •

PARIS, MODIGLIANI & ME

  
A summer in Paris as a nanny should be a dream job for eighteen-year-old Julie, but it feels more like a consolation prize after not getting into the Art Institute of Chicago, her dream school. Her mom wants her to come back to Texas and attend a state college in the fall, but Julie isn’t sure what she wants anymore.

One thing she does know is that she’s going to find the French father she’s never met while she’s in Paris. Whether her mother likes it or not.

Being a nanny to lively, fashion-minded Genevieve turns out to be fun and good for meeting a trio of intriguing guys. Jean Paul, Clay and Luc show Julie different parts of the city and help keep her mind off the problem of What To Do Next. And of course, Paris is, well,
Paris, and that certainly helps. Also, Genevieve’s mother, Claire manages an art gallery and Julie gets drawn into the Paris art scene. The situation heats up when a new, previously unknown work by Modigliani, one of Julie’s favorite artists, is discovered and acquired by the gallery.

Julie’s affections are pulled in three different directions while she tries to discover if the new Modigliani is real or a forgery, or painted by Modigliani’s mistress, Jeanne Hébuterne. Can the story of Modigliani and Jeanne provide any clues that will help guide her own path? Another
croissant certainly wouldn’t hurt, either.

• • • • • • • • • • • 

ALONG THE WAY

Three friends, 33 days, and 500 miles walking the Camino de Santiago add up to one journey they’ll never forget

Piper Rose, Dani Shapiro, and Alexandra ‘Tessa’ Louise De Mille Morrow share a history that goes back to their preschool years in Chicago when their families were still intact. Now Piper lives in Evanston with her divorced dad, her estranged, unstable mother popping in and out of her life at random moments. Meanwhile, Dani’s been living in Santa Fe with a psychologist mom pregnant with her fiancé’s IVF babies. The blueblood Tessa resides on a prominent street in Boston and dreams of a romantic and well-heeled love story like that of her great-grandmother who went to France during World War II. Now that it’s the summer before college, these radically different friends decide to celebrate their history and their future by walking the legendary pilgrimage along the Way of St. James, from the French Pyrenees to the Spanish city of Santiago. Along the way, each young woman must learn to believe in herself as well as in her friends, as their collective journey unfolds into the experience of a lifetime.


• • • • • • • • • • • •

GIVEAWAY

Jacqueline is offering up an ebook copy of Along the Way to one lucky winner! To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway is open internationally.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

33 comments:

  1. I'm not familiar with Modigliani’s work, at least I don't think I am, sometimes I admire art without making note of the artist's name. I do agree with you about The Louvre and Luxembourg Gardens being a must see for Paris. I stayed across the street from Luxembourg Gardens while visiting and walked through every day back and forth to get to the metro. It was BEAUTIFUL! And you're right, it's the local hangout to chill and relax after work. Louvre you need several days to go through. The place is ginormous! I would include the Eiffel Tower. IMO the structure is impressive. Anyone who admires architecture and views should not pass it up!

    Jenny, I fell in love with this cover when you featured it a while back and I still love it! It's my favorite of your works so far. :)

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    1. I've never been to Paris, but it's on my list for sure Rachel! It sounds like an amazing city:)

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  2. Ah yes always so many things to see in Paris. I'm going since a child because I have family there but I live in the south on France and I'm sure I have many things I haven't seen. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Lucky you Melliane! I hope to make it one day:)

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  3. lovely interview Jenny, thanks for sharing and for the giveaway :)

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  4. Now I want to go to Paris, more specifically I want to visit the Luxembourg Gardens!!
    I love how passionate the author is about art. Her enthusiasm is so contagious!
    Thanks for sharing this wonderful interview, Jenny! :)

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    1. ME TOO NICK! We should go together ;-) So glad loved the interview!

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  5. This interview is very much making me want to fly off to Paris today and discover all these things for myself! Fun interview Jenny.

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    1. Wouldn't it be nice if we could just hop a plane tomorrow and go? *dreams of vacationing in Europe*

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  6. First, I'm going to answer the question in the rafflecopter. It's really hard to know where I'd want to go because I want to go EVERYWHERE. But Europe for sure. Narrowing it down is more difficult. I would like to visit all the major cities. I'm also really wanting to visit Greece, which is a bit off the path but still definitely a place I desperately want to visit.

    This interview is fantastic! I have been reading a lot of books about Paris lately and it really has me even more eager to visit! I'm not very knowledgeable about art, but I do like to look at it!

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    1. I agree Candace, Europe would be my choice too! Specifically Italy. I definitely want to see Paris, but I fell in love with Italy in college and I would love to go back:)

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  7. Paris... where would I go? I don't know, I would just be happy to be there and sample the food and enjoy the night lights. Wonderful post.

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    1. I think I could most likely live off their pastries Heidi. And their creme brulee. I LOVE creme brulee:)

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  8. I was fortunate enough to spend a few days in Paris and I really hope I get another chance to tour the city. There's so much to see! The bakeries in Paris are awesome. Now, I'm craving eclairs. lol

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    1. Oooo you're a lucky woman Rummanah! And why did you have to go and say the word eclairs? WHY? *considers driving out late at night to find chocolate*

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  9. The cover design is fresh and delightful and simply put, just wonderful! !!!!!!!!

    The author's passion for Modigliani and Paris is readily apparent in every answer of this awesome interview. I. Loved. Paris. And connected with so much that Jacqueline shared - can't wait to read both books!
    Pam

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  10. What a wonderful and thoughtful and enthralling interview! Thank you so much Jenny and Jacqueline!
    I really feel like checking Modigliani's work because I don't think I'm really familiar with his work.
    And I want to go back to Paris now! I visited twice quite a few years ago and I've been itching to go back for a while!

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    1. LET'S TAKE A GIANT BLOGGER EUROPEAN VACATION!!! Who's with me?

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  11. The Louvre is on my bucket list. I love the cover Jenny, it makes me think of Eloise. Fantastic interview...now I am craving all things Paris!

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    1. Thanks so much Kim! I really love it too:)

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  12. Japan! Just such a different and unique culture.

    Betty B.

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  13. Australia or Ireland. My daughter is very lucky. She is going to London and Paris in May for her study abroad and then her boyfriend's family is taking her to Aruba in July. Maybe I can sneak in her suitcase.....

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  14. Did you say blogger trip to Paris? *perks up* It's for research purposes, right? So we can better judge if the books are authentic? I'm in.

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  15. I'm totally in love with this cover!! You worked in it?? Awesome! <3

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  16. New Orleans

    Megan @ reading away the days

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