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Saturday, 19 November 2011

French Lessons by Ellen Sussman

French Lessons

Sometimes the lessons you learn unexpectedly are the ones that affect you the most. Josie arrives in Paris in the hope of healing a broken heart. Riley, a lonely housewife, is struggling to feel connected to her husband, and her new country. Jeremy, a loyal, neglected husband of a famous actress, has accompanied his wife as she films on location, yet he feels increasingly isolated from her world. As they meander along the grand boulevards and intimate, winding Parisian streets with their French tutors - Josie with Nico, a sensitive poet, Riley with Philippe, a shameless flirt; and Jeremy with the beautiful Chantal - each succumbs to unexpected passion and unpredictable adventures. When long-buried secrets come to bear and relationships are challenged - can their lives ever be the same again?

This book intrigued me from the minute I read the synopsis. It sounds like a fantastic read and as I spent part of my honeymoon in Paris, I was looking forward to reading about the romantic city.

The book focuses on three french tutors: Nico; Chantal; and Phillippe. They each have a student and the book is about the events on one single day. Each student and their tutor have a section in the book talking about their 'lesson', although if I could have lessons how their's are, I would be learning French again. For example, Nico's student is Josie and he takes her shopping in expensive shoe shops! In Paris!!

Although the individual chapters are based on a lesson, they are more than that. The readers learn alot about the characters, their history and their life. Josie is a teacher and was having an affair with a students father, but he was then killed, along with his son, in a plane accident. Josie has recently found out she is pregnant with his child. Chantal's student, Jeremy is the husband of a famous American actor who are in Paris while she shoots her latest film. Phillipe's student, Riley, is a mother, with young children and a demanding husband, and a mother who has ovarian cancer

There is some lovely narrative within the book of the streets of Paris, while the characters wander the streets, chatting in French, learning about lives.

I really enjoyed this book, the three students were all completely different, each employing their tutor for different reasons, whether it be for friendship in a foreign country, or self improvement. The books covers a wide range of emotions and situations. There is the need for attention, companionship, and approval by students and tutors alike. 

The final section of the book is about the tutors, at the end of the day when they meet up to discuss their day and students. It was a lovely ending and not one that I expected. 

I did find some sections of the book to be rather graphic - there were some scenes which I thought were not needed in the book, however they did add intensity to the story.

I really enjoyed this book, it was different to many of the books that i usually pick up but I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants a good read.

Thank you to the publishers, Corsair, for sending me the book to review.

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