Kate and I walked along, looking at the repairs to Notre Dame and feeling humbled to see the great monument in such distress. Then, finally, we crossed the street and came upon crowds lining up to be admitted to Shakespeare and Company. Naturally, we stood in line with the others. When we reached the sales desk, I asked if they had Hemingway’s Widow in stock. A young British woman with long curly blonde hair asked: “Oh, are you by any chance the author?” I said I was, and she came out from behind the cash desk and said she was delighted to meet me. She directed me to the prominent shelf where Hemingway’s Widow sat comfortably under Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, next to Edna O’Brien’s A Portrait of a Marriage, and above Joyce’s Ulysses and The Dubliners. I was stunned and thrilled to see Hemingway’s Widow placed in such great company.
The pleasant woman, Norah, took the copies off the shelf and escorted me to the back of the shop where signings are done. Norah asked a lady to give up her seat so that an author could sit and sign books. Curious onlookers quit browsing to observe. I sat and signed, and people watched as though they were seeing history unfold. I held up the book and told them part of the story took place in this very shop. Then, I chatted with Norah about doing a reading the next time I am in Paris in March. She asked me to stay in touch, placed “Signed” stickers on the books, and returned them to their prestigious location.
Kate and I walked to the Ritz to enjoy an Aperol Spritz in the lounge of the Hotel where Mary lived for seven months following the liberation of Paris. Ernest visited her every night when he was not away, reporting on the war from the front. Then we walked back to the left bank through the Tuileries Gardens, following the path Mary and Ernest took, and like them, we had lunch at the Brasserie Lipp.