Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Book Review: Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins

Perkins, Stephanie. Anna and the French Kiss. 372 p. Dutton. 2010. Hardcover $16.99. ISBN 9780525423270.

I'd heard so much about this book and deliberately held off reading it for a while. Why would one do that to a perfectly good book? See, I KNEW I would love it. So I was saving it for a time when I was in a reading slump and needed an absolutely wonderful read to perk me back up. I was waiting, ready to savor the reading experience when I would need it the most. As it happens, I ended up reading it just before our Authors Are ROCKSTARS! interview with Stephanie Perkins, Andrea Cremer, and Kiersten White, so I wasn't actually in a slump. But just as I had predicted, I loved, loved, loved this book.

It's the story of an American girl reluctantly transplanted in Paris. And of course, in a city known for its romance, she meets a boy. A shame he has a girlfriend, but they can just be friends, right...?

This book took me right back to the month I spent studying in Paris at the Sorbonne in 1998. In fact, I'm itching to book a plane ticket there RIGHT NOW! (Alas, my husband, toddler, and baby might have something to say about that.)

Fondation Deutsch de la Meurthe, par l'extérieur
Photo by Flickr member okisayaka

I lived at the Cité Universitaire, international student housing, so Anna's dorm experience was nostalgic for me. The dining hall where I lived made the fluffiest, most delicious omelettes imaginable to which I will forevermore compare all other omelettes... and they will never, ever measure up-- they were made to order, and each one was like a work of art-- but I digress. Sorry, I got caught up in French food nostalgia!

I love the details of Paris in this book. Despite the fact that Perkins had never been to Paris before she wrote Anna, she got it all amazingly, wonderfully right through the power of research. The Latin quarter! Shakespeare & Company bookstore! Standing on point zero in front of Notre Dame! Francophiles will love this.

Point Zero
Photo by flickr member mojavesin

Much has been said in other reviews about Perkins' ability to write Anna as an authentic teen, and I agree. Anna is an appealing, well-rounded character with relatable flaws and quirks, and her realistic, sometimes sarcastic, voice makes the book such a pleasure to read as she gains confidence in her new surroundings and in herself. And of course, her love interest, St. Clair... what can I say? A charming, self-deprecating guy with a British accent? Well. I think most of us would be happy to read entire volumes about him.

Anna's story of self-discovery and romance stands alone, but there are two more companion novels to look forward to. Lola and the Boy Next Door will hit bookstores in late September, and I can't wait to read it.

6 comments:

  1. I'm seriously ready to hop a plane to Paris right now...

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  2. I love this review! And this book! Je veux aller à Paris! Nous devrions aller! ;)

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  3. I loved this book too! So were you in Paris at the same time as Sarah?

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  4. I'm excited to read this book, because I've always wanted to visit Paris. If I can't make it there in person yet, at least I can visit on the page!

    I’m a new follower— fabulous blog! Stop by my blog and follow me too? :) http://rachelbrookswrites.blogspot.com/

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  5. @Lalitha - Merci for commenting! ;) How much FUN would we have in Paris... that would be like the ultimate girly trip. Sigh!

    @Kim - Such a fun read, right? Let's see, I think Sarah must have been in Paris after I was... I was only there for a month in 1998. Coincidentally at the same time they were hosting the World Cup, which I totally didn't care about, but got swept up in all the enthusiasm when the French won! Partying in the streets, it was amazing.

    @Rachel - This book definitely brings Paris to life... I recommend it! You'll love Paris all the more for having read this book, whenever you do get a chance to visit. Thanks for following, I'll be sure to visit your blog too! :)

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