Do Not Go Gentle. Go To Paris – A Book Review


Do Not Go Gentle. Go To Paris

Ever since I was a kid, the thought of travel has inspired me. And in the last few years, the countdown to trips has kept me engaged with both my day-job and my side passions.

So what does a human with permanent wanderlust do when Melbourne’s ‘return to lockdown’ takes travel off the table? (I mean, we can barely leave the house these days, let alone head to France!)

Well, I clearly can’t speak for all travel lovers but, as for me, I’m getting my French fix back on the table – literally. Via coffee table books. I’m going back through my old favourites and finding all sorts of inspiration.

The other books I’m picking up are memoirs. Understanding how, others interact with France is always fascinating for me. I’ve been reading a number of memoirs lately, including Gail Thorell Schilling’s Do Not Go Gentle. Go To Paris – which I finished just the other day. It’s an entertaining read, highlighting the growth and ccourage of a 62 year old woman who travels to France solo, thanks to the encouragement of her son.


Title: ’Do Not Go Gentle. Go To Paris. Travels of an Uncertain Woman of a Certain Age
Author: Gail Thorell Schilling
Published: 2019 by Kindle Direct, E-Book, 192 pages

What I Liked:

  • Gail’s writing style. From the moment I started reading the preface, I could tell the writing style was one I would enjoy. Gail’s voice leapt off the pages, which doesn’t always happen when you read a memoir. I love it when it does though, because it makes me feel like I’m having a chat with the author rather than reading a series of journal entries.
  • The character development. I know. It’s not something that you expect with a memoir. But I was very taken how Gail became more confident and certain as a result of her travels. I realised towards the end of the book that Gail’s growth was central to the story. It was almost like a coming of age narrative, except for someone a little more mature.
  • The memories within memories. One of the things I really enjoyed in Do Not Go Gentle. Go To Paris were the reflections that Gail’s travels triggered. It was a lovely way to get glimpses into the events and people who had shaped Gail’s thinking before her visit to France.
  • The itinerary. Gail visited many of the towns and regions we spent time in during the nine weeks we were in France last year. I was grateful for the reminders her writing provided me. Locations featured by Gail, including Lille, Carcassonne, the Loire Valley and Mont-Saint-Michel, were on our itinerary too.

What I Wasn’t So Sure About:

  • I have to tell you that it took me a while to get into Do Not Go Gentle. Go To Paris, despite how much I loved the writing style. Early in the book, I found the uncertainty that Gail was feeling (and that she mentions in the subtitle) a little off-putting. And this saw me dipping in and out of the book in the initial stages. I wanted Gail to dive into her French adventure and think less about the people she’d left in the United States. Eventually she does this – around the time that she visits Mont-Saint-Michel. And once that happened I finished the very engaging second half of the book in one single sitting.

Are you a fan of memoirs centred in France? Have you read Do Not Go Gentle. Go To Paris? I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comments section below.


And until next time – au revoir.


Please note: This is an unsolicited post. No compensation of any kind has been received from the author or the publisher.


About Janelle

I believe that everyone can bring French elegance and inspiration to their life, no matter where they happen to live in the world. They only need to learn a secret or two to be on their way. When you join the Distant Francophile community, you’ll have access to the secrets that allow you to bring the best of the French lifestyle into your everyday life. I’m talking about things like style advice, recipes and book reviews. And you’ll also receive regular doses of French inspiration, as well as travel and packing tips galore.


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2 thoughts on “Do Not Go Gentle. Go To Paris – A Book Review

  • Kairosia

    I’m so glad to get another book review in the genre I love best: travel narrative. The fact that your review is about Paris is for me a mighty bonus. Since your Dinner in French review, one of my sisters has gifted me with that book. She said she thought I “needed it in my home.” (Joy!)

    You probably have read At Home in France, by Ann Barry, which is one of my all time favorite narratives. Of course, on the off-chance you have not read it, I see it’s still available. https://www.amazon.com/At-Home-France-American-Aboard/dp/0345407873

    And by the way, I do appreciate your caveat about how the book kicks off. Sometimes I unwisely fail to persist when a book drags, but with that caution I will push ahead.

    • Janelle Post author

      Hi Kairosia, Thanks so much for tip on At Home In France. I’ve heard of it, but don’t recall reading it, so will definitely check it out. I must share that the early stages of Do Not Go Gentle. Go To Paris certainly didn’t drag. The pace and writing style were exactly the same as the second half of the book. And like all feedback, my comment says more about me than it does about the object of that feedback. I really wanted for the author Gail to revel in her travels, and once she did that I was fully connected to her journey and her growth. Oh, and enjoy Dinner in French. It’s a lovely cookbook – your sister did well xx