Lunch in Paris is a real story. Sure, you have the normal Paris-colored glasses on while reading, but it's not all pastries and walks along the Seine. It's that and real life.
Elizabeth met Gwendal while she was living in London (she's from New York). They did the long-distance thing for a while (weekends in Paris? Yes please!) and after two years she took the plunge to move into his cozy Parisian apartment with him.
She shares her struggles with learning French, moving to a foreign country, making new friends, and figuring out what she wants to do job wise. She talks about learning the French attitude of doing what makes you happy versus doing what will earn the most money (as we tend to do in the US), and teaches her husband the anything-is-possible attitude many Americans have. It made sense to me that most of the people in their social circle or those they met didn't automatically start talking about what they did for a living; really, who wants to do that? I'm going to find a way to tell new people I meet about my passion for books, my blog, starting a ladies comic book club, and my cats before I talk about where I am stuck from 8-5 each weekday.
Then, there's the food. Elizabeth does a beautiful job taking us on a walk through the market with her and explaining her troubles in trying to recreate her favorites from home with what is available in Paris. Several recipes are included that were part of stories in the same chapter. She also emphasizes what little quantities the french eat; they deny themselves nothing by eating very small portions. I'm working on this! Though it would help if the quality of food were as good as it is over there...
I have already started reading her next book, Picnic in Provence. I recommend them both!