Tuesday, 3 July 2012

French Lessons

French Lessons by Ellen Sussman

Paperback, 242 pages

Expected Publication: 5th July 2012 Canvas

My shelves: 
adult-fiction, arc-or-review, better-than-expected, books-i-own, chick-lit, cover-appeal, cultural, read-in-2012, realistic-fiction, to-be-reviewed
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Description via Goodreads:
A single day in Paris changes the lives of three Americans as they each set off to explore the city with a French tutor, learning about language, love, and loss as their lives intersect in surprising ways.

Josie, Riley, and Jeremy have come to the City of Light for different reasons: Josie, a young high school teacher, arrives in hopes of healing a broken heart. Riley, a spirited but lonely expat housewife, struggles to feel connected to her husband and her new country. And Jeremy, the reserved husband of a renowned actress, is accompanying his wife on a film shoot, yet he feels distant from her world.

As they meet with their tutors—Josie with Nico, a sensitive poet; Riley with Phillippe, a shameless flirt; and Jeremy with the consummately beautiful Chantal—each succumbs to unexpected passion and unpredictable adventures. Yet as they traverse Paris’s grand boulevards and intimate, winding streets, they uncover surprising secrets about one another—and come to understand long-buried truths about themselves.
Buy this book:

My thanks go to Canvas for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

I absolutely love France, especially the beautiful city of Paris, and so when I was asked to participate in a blog tour for French Lessons, I jumped at the chance! Whilst the majority of books I read are aimed towards young adults, I certainly am not opposed to reading adult fiction and this made a nice change for me.

On initial inspection of this book, I thought that it'd be a quick, fun piece of chick-lit - but how wrong was I! This book will fit into the chick-lit genre, but it felt like so much more. The novel is surprisingly sophisticated and definitely has a certain edge to it over other similar novels. The format of this book is different to the norm and it really made it stand out to me. Though this is the first book by Ellen Sussman that I have read, I'm sure it won't be the last - her writing is unique and it is clear that she has talent.

 The story is split into separate parts, revolving around three french tutors and their adult students. Nico tutors Josie, Phillippe tutors Riley and Chantal tutors Jeremy. There are three separate stories which explore the relationships of the couples as they travel through the city - we even get to see little maps of the places they go, alongside fantastic illustrations, which was a fantastic extra touch! There is not much of a plot as such, but rather the book is made interesting by the characters which it introduces us to and everything weaves together perfectly. 

When we're first introduced to the tutors, I instantly had the desire to learn more about them and I really wanted to delve deep into the story! My favourite pairing, by far, was Nico and Josie - it was really interesting to read about both of their stories and to see how they interacted. If the whole book had been about that one couple, I definitely wouldn't have been disappointed! However, we were also introduced to Phillippe who tutored Riley. When we first saw Phillippe quite briefly, I thought that he'd be my sure favourite, but unfortunately as we got to learn more about him, he quickly became my least favourite character - though this is not to say that he didn't fit in with the story. His personality worked perfectly in allowing the story to progress. The final story between Chantal and Jeremy felt the most developed and natural to me - although it wasn't very long, the emotions, connections and memories of the characters seemed very complex.

All in all, this book wasn't what I expected - it certainly exceeded expectations. This is a cultured, refined, sensual (sometimes verging on erotic) story that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to adult readers, in particular those who want to read some lovely wring and escape into the city of love.  


  1. I like that this is a more sophisticated chick lit. This isn't really my type of book, but I'll think about it.

  2. Paris. I used to think Paris was overrated. But then Anna and the French Kiss came along. I was a goner. =))

    I've read adult fiction before although I never really got attached to the genre. Probably because I am still a teen. But yey for chic lit-ish adult fiction! :D

  3. Yes, I am also in love with Paris myself! This book sound like my cup of tea & I will definitely be putting it on my wishlist! Thanks for a great review :)

  4. This definitely sounds like it's for me! I am infatuated with Paris (but have yet to go) and would love to check this out. Great review :) I am glad you enjoyed it!

  5. Paris!!
    Oh, sounds like a lovely book :D And YAY for exceeded expectations :)

  6. I'm not in love with Paris in real life, but it does sound magical in books :p I love it when a book is better than expected! Those books really become my special treasures :p So I'm glad that you ended up liking this one so much!

  7. I like the premise of this story. It sounds really interesting. Glad you liked it. Great review!

  8. I really like the cover and it sounds like an interesting story. I want to start reading more adult books mixed in with all the YA I usually read. Definitely adding this tomy tbr list. Thanks for the review :)

  9. I read this last year and really enjoyed it. I gave it the same rating you did and also really liked the story between Chantal and Jeremy as well. It also really made me crave pain au chocolat, lol.

  10. I love books like this, and J'adore France! Great review, thanks for posting :) xx


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