I devoured this book in less than 2 days. I have always been such a sucker for books set in Paris. There is just a certain something about the way that authors always describe the sights and sounds and tastes of the French surroundings that draws me in.
The book is broken down in to three stories that all take place in the course of one single day. The start of the book introduces us to three French tutors, all meeting for their start of day coffee. Romantic and caring Nico, timid and beautiful Chantal and wild and charming Philippe. All brought together by their teaching and all caught up in a confusing love triangle.
Each story is focussed on one tutor and their American student.
First off is Nico and his student Josie. Josie is visiting Paris on a trip, a romantic trip planned by her married lover Simon. After Simon and his son were killed unexpectedly in a plane crash just weeks ago, Josie has come on the trip solo to try to come to terms with the shock. Walking the streets in her red converse with Nico, Josie slowly starts to open up and talk about her life with this new stranger. They visit high-end boutiques to look at gorgeous stilettos, something that Simon always wished she would wear and it is here that we learn of the pregnancy Josie has been keeping to herself. Nico, a hopeless romantic, whisks her away all over the city feeding her delicious food, showing her beautiful sights and even stumbling across a movie scene being filmed in the centre of town. Dodging in and out of the stormy downpours, the two make a plan – that Josie has no intention of fulfilling – to meet later that night and run away to Province together.
Next up is Philippe and his student Riley. Riley and her two young children are living in Paris after her husband Vic was relocated for his job. Struggling to grasp the language, keep her marriage alive and adjust to her new home, Riley is then also confronted with the news that her mother has Ovarian cancer. Needing a break she calls her tutor to arrange to hold their lesson outside of the apartment today. Having no patience with the language she keeps trying to persuade Philippe to speak English, which results in the two not speaking and falling in to bed together. After passionate, raw sex between the two, Riley sneaks away and back to her children at the family home. However, whilst taking her Son and Daughter for an afternoon stroll, she finds herself meeting up with Philippe for a drink and to watch the filming of a movie in town. Getting stuck in a rainstorm and feeling alive for the first time since the move, Riley decides she needs to make some big decisions about her future.
Last of all is Chantal and her student Jeremy. Jeremy’s movie star wife purchased these French lessons as an anniversary present to keep him occupied whilst she was busy filming her new movie. Chantal holds their lessons as walking tours of the city. Although Jeremy has no problem already speaking the language, he is surprised at the way Chantal can make sense of the words by explaining them separately through art and food and culture. He starts to wonder if perhaps he could live in this strange city, if maybe he has feelings for the young woman, but how could he when he is so in love with his wife. As the two share a boathouse picnic to celebrate the last day of their lessons Jeremy feels he must make a choice about the person he wants to be, when, as if by fate, he receives a phone call from his wife. She has invited the pair in to town to watch the filming of a new scene. Watching the controversial scene before him and getting soaked in the sudden downpour of a storm he decided he could never love anyone other than his wife and him and Chantal part ways.
In a brief summary chapter, when all their lessons are done for the day, what will happen next for these charming culture-soaked tutors..
The true beauty of this book is in the intricate details. The way the feelings and senses are described in such a way that it just makes you want to jump on a plane and experience them for yourself.
If, like me, you have a soft spot for these foreign based novels, I would certainly recommend this read. Let me know what you think…