To be young and in love (and in Europe)
January 16, 2022 12:35 PM   Subscribe

I’m looking for novels of people moving to/living in continental European cities (London and New York work too), navigating relationships, work, and so on. Think a literary, nuanced version of Emily in Paris. My city is essentially in lockdown so I cannot do much at the moment and would love recommendations.
posted by bigyellowtaxi to Media & Arts (25 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: A common theme of Henry James's fiction. E.g., The Portrait of a Lady.
posted by praemunire at 12:42 PM on January 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: dude, the novel 'the sixteen pleasures' was written just for you.
posted by j_curiouser at 12:48 PM on January 16, 2022

Best answer: The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy
posted by lizard music at 1:08 PM on January 16, 2022 [4 favorites]

Leaving the Atocha station by Ben Lerner
posted by boudicca at 1:16 PM on January 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

Turgenev, "The Torrents of Spring."
posted by Oyéah at 1:18 PM on January 16, 2022

Best answer: Hemingway, "The Sun Also Rises"
posted by el_presidente at 1:27 PM on January 16, 2022

Best answer: The Russian Debutante's Handbook, Gary Shteyngart (Prava, a fictionalized Prague)

any of Christopher Isherwood's Berlin books (Mr Norris changes trains, Goodbye to Berlin, etc)

arguably Marc-Uwe Kling's "Kangaroo Chronicles," but the humor doesn't work as well in the current English translation (also Berlin)
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 1:34 PM on January 16, 2022

Best answer: All of the preceding books will be satisfying and interesting. If you decide to take a break from the more literary and urban takes on Americans working and falling in love in Europe, this lighter bittersweet memoir describes the joy and tribulations of a courtship and subsequent long marriage between a young American woman and the Frenchman she falls in love with.
posted by Elsie at 1:58 PM on January 16, 2022

Foreign Affairs by Alison Lurie, which chronicles two expat professors (one young, one solidly middle-aged) finding unexpected love in London. It's charming without being utterly saccharine.
posted by eponym at 2:35 PM on January 16, 2022

'What Belongs To You' is my favourite novel, an impossibly beautifully written story about the negotiated relationship between a visiting American schoolteacher in Sofia and his hustler boyfriend.
posted by wattle at 3:02 PM on January 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

Maybe The Paris Wife? It's fictionalized but based on the real-life relationship between Ernest Hemingway and his first wife Hadley Richardson, during which they lived in Paris.
posted by sm1tten at 3:11 PM on January 16, 2022

A memoir not a novel but try Lunch in Paris, A Love Story, with Recipes by Elizabeth Bard. She's written several more books as well.
posted by gudrun at 4:01 PM on January 16, 2022

Best answer: Almost French by Sarah Turnbull. Memoir by an Australian journalist who accepts an invitation from French lawyer to visit him in Paris. Romance and cultural confusion ensues.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 4:20 PM on January 16, 2022

Came to say The Dud Avocado.

For a rather jaded version of this story, try The Blessing by Nancy Mitford.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 4:41 PM on January 16, 2022

And Both Were Young by Madeleine L’Engle
posted by shadygrove at 4:41 PM on January 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

Early Margaret Drabble: A Summer Bird-Cage, Jerusalem the Golden, The Millstone.
posted by BibiRose at 5:15 PM on January 16, 2022

James Baldwin- Giovanni's Room
posted by bearette at 5:46 PM on January 16, 2022 [2 favorites]

‘Tis, Frank McCourt.
posted by 8603 at 8:26 PM on January 16, 2022

Best answer: I love the 2002 French comedy The Spanish Apartment / L'Auberge Espagnole about ERASMUS students living in Barcelona. It's a movie, not a novel, but hopefully worth checking out regardless!
posted by smorgasbord at 8:40 PM on January 16, 2022

Best answer: Brooklyn [2009] Colm Tóibín: Irish woman working it out in 1950s NYC
L-Shaped Room [1960] Lynne Read Banks: down, and pregnant, but not out in 1950s London
What Goes Around [2011] Emily Chappell: memoir of bike courier in London (gritty)
posted by BobTheScientist at 12:42 AM on January 17, 2022

Antal Szerb: Traveler and the Moonlight - perhaps not that young, but definitely involves a lot of navigation both in relationships and in cities.
posted by kmt at 3:57 AM on January 17, 2022

I'm kinda embarrassed to admit I've read this, but Red, White and Royal Blue. London-DC/Texas.

I was goaded into reading it while I (DC) was pining for my dude (London) during lockdown by my friend who writes YA romance. I read the hell out of it and it scratched an itch I knew I had but didn't know I could ease with a young love romance novel. And I'm also in London now. Win-win.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 5:43 AM on January 17, 2022

Best answer: A Room with a View by E.M. Forster is not quite what you describe, but I think it has the feeling you're looking for, particularly the first part of the novel set in Florence.
posted by guessthis at 6:02 AM on January 17, 2022 [2 favorites]

For a different view on the whole thing, the memoir Kinky Gazpacho, in which a very Midwestern Black girl falls in love with a charming Spaniard. There's a lot of these stories where there's only some mild cultural differences to overcome, not active racism by horrible relatives (it's still a super fun read with a happy ending, but she is NOT naive)
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 10:30 AM on January 30, 2022

Milan Kundera's very famous novel "The unbearable lightness of being" might suite your desires.
posted by gonza at 5:39 PM on April 8, 2022

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