Book Review: An American in Paris by Siobhan Curham

A very Happy Publication Day to author Siobhan Curham for the release of An American In Paris today, 04.01.2021

About the Book:

An American in Paris

Walking through Montmartre that morning was like the eerie calm right before a storm. The roads were deserted. We carried on, arm in arm, and then finally, we saw them. Columns and columns of soldiers, spreading through the streets like a toxic grey vapour. ‘You must write about this,’ he whispered to me. ‘You must write about the day freedom left Paris.’

1937: Florence has dreamed her whole life of coming to Paris. She arrives on a sweltering summer day and, lost on the steep streets of Montmartre, asks for directions from Otto, a young artist with paint-spattered clothes and the most beautiful smile she has ever seen.

Otto becomes her guide to Paris, taking her to visit paintings in the Louvre and bookshops by the Seine. And when Otto returns home to finish his studies, they vow to reunite on the same spot they met, one year to the day.

Still dreaming of their parting kiss, Florence starts writing for an American newspaper and throws herself into becoming truly Parisian. All too soon, heady days of parties and champagne are replaced by rumours of war. When Otto finally returns to her, it is as an exile, fleeing Nazi persecution.

Soon, not even Paris is safe. Florence’s articles now document life under occupation and hide coded messages from the Resistance. But with the man she loves in terrible danger, her words feel hollow and powerless. If Florence risks everything by accepting a dangerous mission, can she rescue their dreams from that sunny day before the war?

A sweeping wartime story that will capture your heart and never let it go. Fans of The Alice NetworkThe Lost Girls of Paris and My Name is Eva will be absolutely gripped from the very first page.

My Thoughts:

Note: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

An American in Paris is a sweeping tale of love and loss, the impacts of WWII on people and the resilience of some to take a stand. The book is written from two perspectives, following dual timelines, on set in the time from 1937 – 1945 and the other in the present day which in the book is the year 2018.

In the present day part we are introduced to Sage who is on an emotional spiral and messes up her public persona while trying to deal with the grief of her mother’s passing. As she tries to deal with the aftermath of her scandalous viral videos, she receives an email that may just change her life and give her the answers that her mother may have once searched for.

As the story progresses, the reader is also introduced to Florence, an American dancer who comes to Paris in 1937. The author treats us to two different stories, one of Florence who finds love and laughter, a purpose in life until the war begins and starts to affect France, and that of Sage who embarks on a journey of discovery.

Though Sage is featured in the book, I feel that her character and that of Sam were just to provide perspective and a connection to the past. The main focus is on Florence and her story. It is one of strength, bravery and the will to fight back as well as of enduing love and faith. It is both heart warming and heart-breaking to read, but will draw the reader in completely until the very end. The author does a wonderful job in painting a picture of war torn France, the impact it had on the people and how they were treated. A lot of research has definitely gone into the historical facts as many of them could be verified as well.

The plot flows well starting from the beginning and going on until the end of the war and the aftermath. The characters are relatable and their experiences harrowing to say the least. Since I have visited Paris many times, it was wonderful for me to read about Florence’s emotions while discovering Montmartre and Musée du Louvre as well as my personal favourite, the bookstore Shakespeare and Company.

Be prepared for an emotional roller-coaster and a story that will cause the reader to pause and think. This book is well worth the read and I highly recommend it!

Book Review: P.S. from Paris by Mark Levy

About the Book:

P.S. from Paris (UK edition)

They knew their friendship was going to be complicated, but love—and the City of Lights—just might find a way.

On the big screen, Mia plays a woman in love. But in real life, she’s an actress in need of a break from her real-life philandering husband—the megastar who plays her romantic interest in the movies. So she heads across the English Channel to hide in Paris behind a new haircut, fake eyeglasses, and a waitressing job at her best friend’s restaurant.

Paul is an American author hoping to recapture the fame of his first novel. When his best friend surreptitiously sets him up with Mia through a dating website, Paul and Mia’s relationship status is “complicated.”

Even though everything about Paris seems to be nudging them together, the two lonely ex-pats resist, concocting increasingly far-fetched strategies to stay “just friends.” A feat easier said than done, as fate has other plans in store. Is true love waiting for them in a postscript?

From Marc Levy, the most-read French author alive today, comes a modern-day love story between a famous actress hiding in Paris and a bestselling writer lying to himself.

My Thoughts:

I picked up this book mostly due to the connection to Paris. It is a city that I have come to love and I wanted to see how much of it I could connect with through the book.

The story follows Mia, an actress from UK as she gets away from the film industry, her husband and everything that is a part of her reel life. She needs a break and to re-assess what she wants from life. She ends up in Paris, at the doorstep of her best friend Daisy.

The reader is also introduced to Paul, an architect turned writer, who moves from the US to Paris to get away. He does this just after his first book was published as he doesn’t know how to deal with the fame. We also meet his best friend and the best friend’s wife, who are wonderful additions to the character ensemble.

The author takes us on a pleasant journey through the streets of Paris, from Montmartre, the artists square to the view from the top of the Opera. The locations are well described that for people who have been to Paris, it is a trip down memory lane, and for those who have not, it will spark the flame of discovery and the urge to visit this beautiful city.

The book deals with some important issues like self discovery and growth, trust and beyond all that love. Mia learns to open herself up to new experiences and possibilities. She takes a decision regarding her marriage and spends time working as a waitress at her friend’s restaurant. She happens to meet Paul by accident, through a date setup via a dating site. On Paul’s side, this is done by his friends as they think that he is not focusing on himself and his life. What turns starts off as a surprise and a joke, blossoms into a strong friendship between two people who want to experience more in their lives.

As we follow the two main characters on their journey of discovery, we travel a little with them as they deal with the consequences of their respective livelihoods. We also see love blossom as well as the uncertainty that follows it. The bonds between characters and the trust they have in their friends is something to learn from. The story is very well-written, it is fun, intriguing and is quite a pleasant read. I absolutely adored this book and recommend this to everyone.

Book Review: Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

About the Book:

Exit West

Nadia and Saeed are two ordinary young people, attempting to do an extraordinary thing—to fall in love—in a world turned upside down. Theirs will be a love story but also a story about how we live now and how we might live tomorrow, of a world in crisis and two human beings travelling through it. Civil war has come to the city which Nadia and Saeed call home. Before long they will need to leave their motherland behind—when the streets are no longer useable and the unknown is safer than the known. They will join the great outpouring of people fleeing a collapsing city, hoping against hope, looking for their place in the world . . .

My Thoughts:

Exit West is an absolute masterpiece, that is well crafted and inspires the reader to think about some rather important topics.

I had  the pleasure of listening to Mohsin speak about the book and his ideas at Shakespeare and Co., Paris in January 2018. This was quite an eye opener and helped put the story in perspective. It became easier to understand the plot and what the author wanted to convey.

The story is well-written and the simplest plot line is the story of Nadia and Saeed who find love in an unnamed war torn country. Told through their experiences, Exit West explores how the world around us is dynamic and always changing. Along with this, the people in this world are also changing, both physically and in personality, as a result of their experiences. The choices a person makes or is forced to make, contribute to shaping who they are. This is articulated very well by the author.

The author uses imagery to bring into context the use of “doors” to travel to different places. As an example, we can relate our use of technology as a way of going into another world or sequence, that is quite different from the current reality. Another subtle focus is on the concept of migration and the refugee status in countries. The author brings out the idea that everyone, even if they do not move from the current place where they live, can be considered to be migrants since the world around them is always changing. People move to find shelter and a safer place to live, the basic things that we need to lead a simple life.

As the story progresses, we follow our lead characters as they take a trip through many such doors. Their experiences and adventures seek to shape the story and the messages brought out. At times I found it difficult to relate to Nadia and Saeed. They were lacking in character depth and some parts of the story didn’t work for me. However, I found the concept of the story quite intriguing and I think that it is definitely worth a read! The book has received a lot of praise and it is well deserved.

Melting Love Moments by Lynne Pickering

This post is my review of one of Lynne Pickering’s books titled Melting Love Moments. There will be more information about the author and her books in subsequent posts.

About the book:

Suzette felt incredibly lonely. Although she was a stunningly beautiful part time model and perfume sales assistant, her life felt empty. Ten years in the same job had left her jaded and exhausted with her work.

One day, in a flash of inspiration, Suzette decides to visit a fortune-teller. Learning that her destiny lies in Paris, Suzette throws caution to the winds and abandons all that is familiar to her, determined to get to France.

Full of romance and betrayal Suzette’s new life is an unending stream of socialites, millionaires, politicians and couture fashion’s biggest names. Yet amidst all of the distractions and glamour Suzette must struggle to fulfill her destiny and find love.

My Thoughts:

This is a breezy, fun filled light story about following your dreams and falling in love. Suzette, though highly qualified, works as a sales girl for perfumes. She enters a competition which she is sure she will when and when she does, she has moved to Paris to pursue a new life. She wants to make a change in her life and she gets into journalism. She is a romantic and a believer in love at first sight. She meets her true  love by chance and they are separated by a series of unfortunate events till they find each other in Paris. This story is sweet and full of life as Suzette breezes through life cheerfully. Through all the obstacles Suzette faces, her easy charm, ready smile and optimism and enthusiasm are catching and provide a new outlook to life.

The characters are simple and easy to relate to though there is a lot of fashion and shoe talk. This is perhaps the first character I have come across who loves shoes so much. I enjoyed reading this book and recommend this for those who want a light book to read.