France, a Love Story: Women Write About the French Experience

“Among the most poignant and memorable pieces in this collection must be the essays by Constance Hale and Valerie J. Brooks.” — Erika Dreifus, The Boston Globe

“I am fortunate enough to have visited Paris several times and I know that Valerie Brooks’s exquisitely written and deeply felt ‘Liberté’ will resonate on any future trips. Her Paris is the magical ‘Elsewhere’ of an American girl coming of age in an atmosphere of repression and, as she ages, its meaning becomes more and more nuanced until finally, as a grown woman traveling with her husband, she encounters the real thing—and is forever transformed.” — Randy Sue Coburn, author of A Better View of Paradise, Owl Island, and Remembering Jody

“‘Liberté’ captured my heart … from the opening that transported me inside person and place to the satisfying end. Brooks gives her readers a look inside a daughter’s soul, not the predictable eye-rolling romance of Paris or glitz of fashion and food. We see the human condition and its healing power set in a beautiful city.” – Lois Jean Bousquet, Press Pause Moments

Scent of Cedars:
Promising Writers of the Pacific Northwest



I loved Valerie J. Brooks’ piece called Dead Children! From the very first sentence, it is clear what lengths the main character will go to for family. The author explores delicate yet complicated family relationships and the chore of caring for elderly parents, especially for so many who do it without a word of complaint or the help of step-up-to-the-plate relatives or siblings. With grace, the author interweaves the web and intricacy of familial interactions (and games) with the dream of dead children while alluding to the dead children in all of us. A beautiful piece by a talented writer. – Kirsten Steen