Years ago I reviewed How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are by Caroline de Maigret, Sophie Mas, Audrey Diwan, and Anne Berest, a lighthearted book that poked fun at the stereotypical Parisienne. So when I saw that Caroline and Sophie released another book in what appeared to be a continuation of the series, Older, But Better, But Older, I picked it up despite not exactly being the target demographic (I’m in my late 20s whereas this seems to be aimed at women in their early 40s and above).
A few pages in I realized that while the cover images and presentation were similar, the two books were quite different in terms of tone and content: While the first book was a comedic, nonsensical fantasy, this new offering is more rooted in reality. While it has its funny quips, there are also some harsh truths and explorations of different questions that one poses as they get older, such as changing relationship and dating dynamics, whether or not one should have children (or freeze their eggs), the pros and cons of plastic surgery, and emotional versus physical age.
While the first book by Caroline de Maigret & co. arguably further perpetuated the myth of ladies living in the French capital being untouchable, perfectly imperfect women lauded in fashion magazines and lifestyle books alike, this new offering presents them in a way that’s more realistic. It shows that, just like everywhere else in the world, women in Paris may grapple with aging and everything that comes with it, but ultimately make peace with the inevitable and come out wiser, happier, stronger, and more comfortable in their own skin.
All in all, I enjoyed this book and liked it much more than the first. It’s an open and honest reflection on womanhood and getting older that never takes itself too seriously, maintaining a sense of humour and self-depreciation throughout. I really appreciated that it touched on topics that are still sometimes considered taboo or not widely spoken about, and that it supported the idea of embracing aging instead of being afraid of it or constantly resisting it.
I’ll be the first to admit that this book won’t be to everyone’s taste, as it’s a very easy read and lacking a little in substance and concrete advice. That said, I find it has its thoughtful, heartfelt moments and discusses some things that I think women of all ages can relate to. As someone who’s always been fearful of aging myself, the playful approach taken by the authors made the concept feel that little bit less daunting and provided me with some positive introspection, which to me made it worth the read.