Books Magazine

Book Review: French Milk by Lucy Knisley

By Joyweesemoll @joyweesemoll

Book: French Milk by Lucy Knisley
Genre: Graphic Memoir
Publisher: Touchstone
Publication date: 2007
Pages: 193

Source: Purchased

cover of French Milk by Lucy Knisley
Summary: French Milk is an earlier black-and-white memoir by the author of this year’s Relish, a graphic memoir in color about the author’s experiences with food. French Milk is more narrowly targeted than Relish, portraying in picture the trip that Lucy Knisley took with her mom when she was 22 to spend a month in Paris.

Thoughts: I got this book after reading Marg’s review on The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader: French Milk by Lucy Knisley. There were two reasons I wanted to read it — first was that this is my year for reading books on France. And, second, because of what the back of the book describes as “a moving, personal look at a mother-daughter relationship.”

Marg pointed out in her review that the mother-daughter aspect was over-sold, but it was enough to get her to make this statement: “I would add the disclaimer that there is no way known I could do four weeks anywhere with my mother.” I didn’t, and wouldn’t, have gone anywhere with my mother for a month at that age, either (or later — 4 days in Boston in my early forties just about did me in). But I did have another experience at about Lucy’s age that brought my mother and I together in ways that neither of us planned. I want to post about that for the October Memoir Challenge this week, so I thought French Milk would be a good backdrop.

French Milk is so enjoyable because it’s a way of vicariously taking a trip to Paris — and spending much more time there than most of us get to do. Knisley’s attention is focused on food, art, and books, making her a delightful companion for the journey. I wished I could draw like Lucy because it looks like such a wonderful way to document a trip.

I laughed at the page where Lucy stands in front of a wall of paintings of naked women with the thought balloon: “I think from now on, I’m only going to make art involving naked men.” The caption says “I never thought I’d get sick of seeing pictures of naked ladies.” Rick had fun seeing all the naked lady pictures in Paris. They are everywhere. He read The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris by David McCullough after we got back and got a kick out of telling me how shocked Americans were by the art in Paris.

Appeal: French Milk is great for Francophiles, art lovers, and readers of memoir who are willing to try the graphic format for something a little different.

photo of Eiffel tower with words Dreaming of France
Challenges: This is my 13th book for the Books on France 2013 Challenge. I originally pledged 3 books — and I’m still reading books on France. 2013 is definitely the year. French Milk is my 10th book for the Foodies Read 2013 Challenge. I expected to read 14 to 18 books for that challenge. I might get that done.

I’ll also be linking this post to the Dreaming of France meme at An Accidental Blog. Check out Paulita’s post tomorrow for more links to French-themed blog posts.

I might link it to Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads, too, if I remember. I have another idea for a post this weekend as well.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

Signature of Joy Weese Moll

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