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Inside a Pearl: My Years in Paris [Hardcover]

Edmund White
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
RRP: 18.99
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Book Description

27 Feb 2014

Edmund White was forty-three years old when he moved to Paris in 1983. He spoke no French and knew just two people in the entire city, but soon discovered the anxieties and pleasures of mastering a new culture. White fell passionately in love with Paris, its beauty in the half-light and eternal mists; its serenity compared with the New York he had known.

Intoxicated and intellectually stimulated by its culture, he became the definitive biographer of Jean Genet, wrote lives of Marcel Proust and Arthur Rimbaud, and became a recipient of the French Order of Arts and Letters. Frequent trips across the Channel to literary parties in London begot friendships with Julian Barnes, Alan Hollinghurst, Martin Amis and many others. When he left, fifteen years later, to return to the US, he was fluent enough to broadcast on French radio and TV, and as a journalist had made the acquaintance of everyone from Yves St Laurent to Catherine Deneuve to Michel Foucault. He'd also developed a close friendship with an older woman, Marie-Claude, through whom he'd come to a deeper understanding of French life.

Inside a Pearl vividly recalls those fertile years, and offers a brilliant examination of a city and a culture eternally imbued with an aura of enchantment.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing (27 Feb 2014)
  • ISBN-10: 1408820455
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408820452
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.8 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 146,491 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Paris may well be White's pearl, but he is in fact the real pearl, moving around inside an aloof and unforgiving social hub. Few living writers are as able as White to evoke life as a busy, complex, deeply silly and at times moving experience. He sees everything and reveals even more. This wonderfully eccentric, conversational and personalised cultural history contains the essence of Edmund White . Entertaining and wry, White is worldly-wise and wise ... Edmund White misses very little about either himself or others (Eileen Battersby, Irish Times)

Edmund White writing about his Paris years, with walk-on parts for Catherine Deneuve, Yves Saint-Laurent and other assorted members of the French glitterati? That'd be Inside a Pearl (Scotsman)

There is at once something artfully canny and beguilingly innocent about Inside a Pearl . Each life is invaluable to its possessor; very few autobiographies come close to encapsulating that vitality. This is one such. You want to hold on to him, will him to live more, live longer and write about more years (Independent)

We are lucky to have him still publishing . diverting, affectionate as well as bitchy, and full of tips (London Evening Standard)

In the end, this dazzling memoir isn't just a love song to a city - a city "so calm" it is "like living inside a pearl" - but profoundly moving elegy to a friend (Sunday Times)

***** (Mail on Sunday)

White dazzles his readers with anecdotes about the rich and brilliant people he met in Marie-Claude's orbit and through his work for American Vogue (Observer)

Gossipy, sharp and funny (Sunday Times Must Reads)

Very readable, gossipy and name-dropping (Scotsman)

Delightful to read ... Beautifully crafted sentences ... There is nothing dowdy about Inside a Pearl; there is much kindliness, indomitable spirit, smiley self-regard, with smatterings of common sense and an abundance of what White calls "silly fun" (Literary Review)

An enchanting stream of anecdote, observation, impropriety and erudition ... A brilliant and engaging though none too rigorous, monologue by a self-described archaeologist of gossip ... Provocative, beguiling, funny (Simon Callow, Book of the Week, Guardian)

An exquisitely written work (Spectator)

A superbly witty raconteur (Daily Telegraph)

A masterly memoirist, he never loses sight of the figure he cuts (Frances Wilson, Times Literary Supplement)

Few can match Edmund White for precision and humour in writing ... Inside a Pearl is a trove of insights into the French psyche and their peccadilloes (Irish Examiner)

Book Description

A literary treat: a memoir of Edmund White's years among the cultural and intellectual elite of 1980s Paris

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars interesting writer but in the end boring 24 April 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I thought it would be more interesting as i am very interested in those years in Paris but the endless pages about his pick ups and his humping his young bimbo boyfriends was really boring. Who cares about that!!! It's as boring as a straight guy telling about his conquests and humping dozens of bimbos.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More cuttings from the scrapbook. 23 April 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Rather too many events in this book have appeared in other volumes. The author is unusually prone to gushing over famous people who are often described by what look like extracts from Wikipedia. That said the writing is often very beautiful and as a description of times and places from a gay perspective nobody does it better.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Edmund White 19 Mar 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
All the critics I read loved it. I did not. He writes well and intelligently but it is really just non stop name dropping and listing his sexual conquests. There was not enough about Paris. Very disappointed. Misleading title too
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Repulsive 6 May 2014
I was told this book was just gossip; but it is not even that. It is mainly a list of hundreds of famous people White claims to be friendly or intimate with, and another list of supposedly 'amusing' people who tend to be mindless, fashion-conscious self-absorbed and self-important snobs. He does a nice line is trashing people who have lavished hospitality on him (the princess in Venice), boasts about lying, both to get a job (at Vogue) and, repulsively, to fool potential sexual partners worried about AIDS (he keeps mum about his 3,000 [sic] partners.) He throws in scores of absurd and provably false generalisations ('satire is always conservative' - so, not read Le Canard Enchaine, then?)The icing on the cake: he calls his OWN STUDY OF GENET 'the definitive biography' ! The publishers, Bloomsbury, have disgraced themselves offering this garbage to the public.
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