Book Review: “We’ll Always Have Paris” by Jennifer Coburn

categories: europe travel

We'llalwayshaveParis We’ll Always Have Paris, A Mother/Daughter Memoir, by Jennifer Coburn was a breeze to read with a scattering of amusing passages similar to Bill Bryson’s travel antics.  Coburn invites us to read her whimsical tales of adventures in Western Europe as a phobic mother who is afraid of a premature death and her underage, yet wise and level headed, daughter, Katie.  Through their forays, Katie ages into young adulthood and her mother relaxes and is able to cherish their exploring time together.

While reading We’ll Always have Paris, I forgot I was reading a memoir.  Coburn writes with blatant honesty and comically factual relatable scenarios.  In the midst of a travel story, Coburn frequently interrupts the experiences, with corresponding flashbacks from her childhood of her non-traditional upbringing in NYC with days spent with her pot smoking loveable dad and her moving on up in the world mom.  It’s through these recollections that we understand why Coburn makes the time to travel cautiously or footloose and fancy free with her daughter.

She did research before embarking and accepted advice and suggestions from friends, family and colleagues as to what are must views, good delicacies and how to travel on the train.  Her resourcefulness in finding cheaper admission rates could be seen as immoral or ingenious.  Overseas traveling, in which neither parent nor daughter contain fluent knowledge of the local language, could be argued a life lesson or lost marbles.  Coburn invents wonderful descriptive nick names for the people they encounter pertaining to their situations, like Too Friendly David or Quasimodo.  They secured an evening at Shakespeare and Co. with Katie’s bold comments and accepted a feast from a local restaurateur for less than cost of the meal, because he wanted them to have a good memory of the city. Through views of numerous cathedrals, architectural buildings and art museums, Katie and Jennifer discovered numerous artists with “wacky” and perhaps, Gaudi, styles.  They were influenced and amazed at the kindness of welcoming and helpful strangers.  In true traveler fashion, these two ladies devised their own “you had to be there” language, conversational style and dialogue.

As I’ve been ridiculously fortunate to fulfill a dream of traveling through Europe, I related to and remembered many of my experiences with great amusement that Coburn presented.  My travel partner was not my mother, but my younger sister, who finished a college semester in one of the cities, Seville, where Coburn traveled with her daughter.  To have travel experiences are magical.  To be able to share treks with loved ones is stupendous.  To walk a path where ancestors walked is inspirational.  I love my mom, and Mother’s Day was recent, but there’s no way I could travel internationally with her; I’ll stick to shorter adventures with her at the thrift stores.  I give Coburn credit for being brave and creating memories with her daughter.  Pick up this book if you have any desire to travel with your child.  Be prepared to be inspired to begin planning your own adventure!

Disclosure: A free copy of this book was given to the volunteer with the expectation that a fair and honest review would be written of it.

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Jill Otradovec

by Jill Otradovec

Jill thrives on travel has been fortunate to be a road tripper and train traveler. She’s visited all 48 contiguous U.S. States with the impressive assistance of sofas and floors belonging to friends and family and a fantastic mechanic. Though her current passport has one stamp and a pathetic layer of dust, she is a card holder of the Smithsonian Institution and National Park Service (which have been used this year).

One Response to “Book Review: “We’ll Always Have Paris” by Jennifer Coburn”

Rita S.


Love the sound of the book. I love travel to anywhere in the U.S. or abroad. My daughter and I are going to travel in the near future. However, unlike the author, we will travel about Spain.

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