Author: Stephanie Perkins||Publisher: Usborne Publishing||Pages: 416||Source:Kindle Purchase
Anna is less than thrilled to be shipped off to boarding school in Paris, leaving a fledgling romance behind – until she meets Etienne St Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Etienne has it all… including a girlfriend. But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with a longed-for French kiss?
Well, this book was a rollercoaster. At the start it was making me laugh a lot but then all the twists and turns of St Clair and Anna’s relationship kicked. I was still laughing at times but the fun started to take a back seat to the drama. Vivid, romantic drama.
I went against the grain in my approach to Perkins’ three companion novels. I read the final one, Isla and the Happily Ever After, last year so I already knew the future for Anna and her friends when I headed into this book, but I don’t regret reading the series out of order. It felt nice to finally see that portion of Josh’s past that Isla wanted to connect with for myself. I couldn’t help but pay attention to the small mentions of Isla and to take note of the beginning of Josh’s pain at the thought of being without his friends in the coming year.
As for the main characters of this novel, I liked Anna and St Clair. Anna has a good sense of humour, she blogs, prefers people who respect teachers and rules, and she’s not funny about going to see movies at the cinema on her own. I can relate.
In terms of St Clair, well, I loved his passion for history, stock of random facts, funny hat, and his loyalty towards his friends. Nevertheless, St Clair was at times frustrating but understandably so. The fact he has issues with being alone and accepting change made him more real. He’s not a perfect looking cardboard cut-out of a boy.
The thing I most loved about Anna and St Clair’s relationship was that they were friends first and foremost. Sure, there’s attraction between them from the beginning, but even when they can’t be together-together and things get awkward they always manage to come back to each other as friends.
Paris should also get a mention when discussing the characters in this novel. I love being a literary tourist when I read Perkins’ novels. There isn’t as much travel as we get in Isla but there was plenty of Paris to make me yearn to go there. I loved hearing about the cinema culture there and learning about some of the monuments as Anna’s friends slowly tease her out of her room and force her to truly experience Paris, despite Anna not wanting to be there in the beginning.
Paris isn’t the only setting for this novel. One of the plot threads of this novel is to do with Anna’s relationship to the place she’s left behind. I did guess near the beginning what would happen between the people Anna leaves behind in the US when she moves to France, but I don’t think that predictability degrades the book. I think the fact the reader can guess at what’s going on back in the US long before Anna does helps establish elements of Anna’s character. She has no idea about a lot of things until she is directly confronted by it during her Christmas break. Anna struggles with the situation, and then it ends up coming full circle on her.
Anna grows and changes her outlook on life during the course of this novel. We get the whole story from her first person perspective, so it was nice to see her develop and have those sudden moments of understanding that lead her to become a more mature person.
Anna and St Clair are on a similar path. They need to learn to move forward and use the cards they’ve been dealt to their own advantage as much as possible. They have to be less afraid, even when things are scary. Anna learns to embrace being sent to Paris rather than treat it as a punishment and St Clair learns to be his own man.
Anna and the French Kiss is a quick and sweet book. I enjoyed it a lot.