“Right away with Anna Eriksson and Mason Bendewald’s arresting book Meet Me at Pere Lachaise, I got the sense that I was on an intimate afternoon jaunt together with the author and photographer. Hence the title. The book isn’t called “Go Do Exactly What I Did at Pere Lachaise,” or “Here’s a Map, Have at It Buddy.” It’s an experience shared, a walk along just one pathway trod by two people who obviously had life-changing experiences getting lost together in the famous cemetery. It says as much in the book’s Foreword: “Feel free to make your own way, and even enjoy getting lost there.” A trip through Pere Lachaise is a trip back in time, but just like going forward in time, the steps are my own to take, the experiences my own to interpret.
And so, with that in mind, the book is an incredibly rare gem: A knowledgeable collection of terse but robust facts about the amazing residents of Pere Lachaise, organized to be suitable for a tour, yet seasoned with inimitable personal anecdotes that briefly alight like a Psyche butterfly. It’s a brief dance of two living souls among thousands that have passed. In other words, life.
To wit: the Paris landlady of Eriksson and Bendewald whose uncle was the culprit who stole Maria Callas’ ashes. Or the author hearing the growling otherworldly intonations of Jim Morrison while paying respects at his oft-defiled grave. Or the photographer paying homage first by kneeling at the foot of the monument to slain young journalist Victor Noir, and then again by leaving his corroded copper monument as one of the only subjects in the entire book printed in color.
These are not the sterile monologues of a paid docent or the rote recitations of a bored tour guide. These are not stock photographs taken by sanctioned lenses. These are not entries in an academic encyclopedia. These are the living, breathing experiences of two artists sharing their passion for witnessing the frailty of human legacy, and doing their small part to keep the names of those departed souls on the lips of the living a little while longer.
I can think of no more appropriate way to give life to those passed souls than by being alive in their presence. And by encouraging me to do the same.
An absolute must read!
“I read this book cover to cover the first time I picked it up and have returned to it several more times since then. You are literally transported there with every page and you cannot stop reading!
Anna and Mason’s deep affection for this place comes through in the eloquent and clever writing and breathtaking photographs.”
Stacey J. & Chuck D.
A must have for your visit to Pere Lachaise
“In the summer or 2010 I visited Pere Lachaise. I had purchased this book in advance and found it quite helpful. We even dined in the area they recommended and found the food delicious. The photos are wonderful and I enjoyed learning fun facts about people buried there. Looking forward to vol. 2! There are so many interesting people buried in Pere Lachaise.”
This is what turns “tourist site” into Magic…
“This book transports you to another place in time – even with out visiting the famed cemetery, because I haven’t yet. But, I will say I just read the section on Oscar Wilde, and that alone has inspired me to finally visit Pere Lachaise!”
Jonathan L. Congdon
Transports you with storytelling
“I’m a history junkie, and I came across this book while researching the best historical places to visit when my husband and I travel to Europe. After reading this book, we’re definitely going to visit Pere Lachaise.
For people who are more interested with the experience of the cemetery, Anna Eriksson and Mason Bendewald organized their book into guided tour for people to follow along with when they visit.
Folks like me who will not be visiting for a while but who are still interested in the story of the cemetery and those who are buried inside, this book is still a great buy. Some of the famous folks who have been laid to rest in Pere Lachaise include Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, and Gertrude Stein. Eriksson wraps the historical facts about the cemetery into stories, and I experienced the cemetery through her eyes. She also notes in the intro that she first visited Pere Lachaise when she was 14 years old. You can feel her love of this place ooze form the book, and her enthusiasm is contagious.
The authors perfectly match the mood of what I imagine the cemetery to be like with their prose and images. I really feel like the authors transported me there with their storytelling.”
A stroll down memory lane for me!!!
“I truly enjoyed Anna’s fun and informative writing and Mason’s beautiful photography! I’m so happy I found this book because it immediately brought back wonderful memories of my visit when I was 15 years old! Great to give as a gift and to have at home for guests to read as a coffee table book!!!”
All the small stories were just wonderful. The pictures were also wonderful.
“This book was truly enchanting. All the small stories were just wonderful. The pictures were also wonderful – this book was a joy to read. And makes one want to visit this historical cemetery. Highly recommend.”
P B Illingworth
Meet Me There
“We used this as a guide when visiting this interesting place in Paris. I’m not one to visit cemeteries so I was luke warm towards spending the afternoon there. Afterall, when you think Paris, it’s the Eiffel Tower, Seine, Notre Dame that come to mind. To my surprise, this was a unique and surreal experience…not your typical graveyard. This guide made it even better by helping us not only locate the graves of people like Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison, but also tell us a short story about it. A Sunday afternoon when much of Paris is closed down, is a great time to visit.”
LOVED THIS BOOK!!!
“I absolutely LOVED this book. Not only was the photography quite beautiful and haunting, but I found the writing incredibly witty and informative – I actually laughed out loud more than once. Not something you’d expect in a book about a cemetery. I’ve never been to Pere Lachaise, but as I am going to Paris this spring, it will one of the first places we’ll visit. And of course, I’m buying the App so I can take this wonderful tour! I highly recommend this book to anyone who appreciates travel, humor, history and stunning visual images.”
“This little guide with map (& also the authors’ iPhone app) added much pleasure to my wife’s and my visit to Paris’ famous very, very large Pere Lachaise Cemetery. The book reveals surprising and intriguing connections associated with 31 graves and sites written by people who are intimately familiar with the Cemetery and sensitive to its beauty and atmosphere. This guide with its well-written personal descriptions and photographs is indispensable to anyone who desires a more meaningful enjoyment of Pere Lachaise.”