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#2418: Willa Cather to Mary Virginia Boak Cather, June 11 [1920]

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My Dearest Mother1:

It is hard to write about my life here to anyone who has never been here, for it is different from any other life in the world—for a student, at least. For rich Americans like the Bradleys3, who come here to spend money and live in the hotel part of the city, Paris is like any other big city. Over here on the left bank of the Seine it has not changed much since the Middle Ages.

Everything is terribly expensive here now, and I keep out of the shops. I paid 79 francs for a cotton umbrella, and 30 francs each for two nightgowns I had to have.

But I won’t get the hat and evening coat I meant to get—I won’t even look at any! The prices in the shops frighten me and I make a run for the sidewalk. The theatre is the only thing that’s cheap—you can get fine seats in the best theatres for a dollar each. All the great museums and and art galleries and churches are free—no admission fee, so the things I chiefly came for are no more expensive than they need to be.

Oh Elsie4, isn’t poor Miss Pfeiffer5 an old worked-out cart horse! So good and so stupid! She kept telling everyone on the boat that she was a classmate of mine!

Living expenses are twice what they used to be here, but no more than they are now in New York6, and one gets much better food for one’s money, certainly.

I wonder if little West Virginia7 is with you?

Tell Ethel8 I loved the baby’s9 picture she sent me. I’ll try to write often, darling mother, though there is not much to tell. Edith10 is much better now11, so I am quite free to work—I am busy and happy.

Lovingly Willa


Please send this letter on to Uncle Ross12 when you have read it. We all enjoyed your letter very much.

Aunt Elsie.