Beverley Lehman West finds her way back to Paris | Bookends

When you were young, did you long for a great adventure? Author Beverley Lehman West certainly did, and she followed her dream.

In her book “Finding My Way Back to 1950s Paris,” she takes us along on her grand adventure.

West says she “always wanted to be a writer in Paris, since the age of 9,” and so in college she majored in journalism. She became a staff writer for the San Francisco Chronicle and other newspapers. Then, she did freelance travel articles, especially while living in Paris.

This adventure begins for her at the age of 24 with a train trip from San Francisco to the East Coast, and then boarding a ship, the Ile de France.

Being immersed in the French language on this ship was a good way to really learn French, she writes in the book. This part of her trip was an adventure in itself. Not only did it take her to her destination, but it gave her a very good life lesson in the differences between classes of people, from the extremely rich and privileged down to her level of “tourist class.”

The descriptions on the ship and in Paris are so well written you will feel like you are sitting in a café sipping coffee in the daytime and cognac at night, all the while drinking in the atmosphere and the ambiance of Paris. She also describes meals that you wish you could be having with her: “Caviar and toast or escargots, beef steak with sauces peculiar to each chef, or veal or pork or chicken or duck, always seasoned so well.”

From the garret she lived in, to the art museums and Harrod’s department store (which she says was not much better than the stores in San Francisco at that time), and the excursions she took to neighboring countries, we are allowed to see and feel what she felt. She even shares some of the romance she found along the way.

This memoir is dedicated to the Navy ensign West met on the train when she first got on in San Francisco. They shared a few kisses. It was the perfect start to an exciting adventure, and as I write this review of her book, West and her friend, Bob Royce, are in Paris once again and I’m sure they are visiting some old familiar places.

You can find this book locally at Liberty Bay Books and Eagle Harbor Book Store, and online at

Now, did you read the book “The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” by Jamie Ford? He has a new book out called “Love and Other Consolation Prizes,” and he will be in Port Orchard at South Kitsap High School giving a presentation from 2:30-4:30 p.m. on Sept. 23. Can’t wait to see him and read this new book.

We are getting close to those rainy days that are so good for tea and reading. Maybe you’d like to join the Mystery Book Club at Liberty Bay Books in Poulsbo. Or, meet author Wendelin Van Draanen and hear about her young adult book “Wild Bird” from 5-6 p.m. Sept. 28 at Eagle Harbor Book Store. I’ll be reviewing this book soon.

Quote for today: “It does not do well to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.” — From J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the “Sorcerer’s Stone.”

— Donna Lee Anderson teaches writing and is the author of two novels and a reference book for writers. You can reach her at well