FRENCH LESSONS by Ellen Sussman

FRENCH LESSONS

KIRKUS REVIEW

Three attractive French tutors guide each of their American charges through an unforgettable day in Paris.

Meeting regularly at a café before work, colleagues Chantal, Philippe and Nico teach private language sessions and have what might be described as a complex (or just French) relationship. Chantal has slept with both men, although she considers Philippe—in spite of all evidence to the contrary—to be her boyfriend. She also finds herself drawn to her client Jeremy, the carpenter husband of famous movie star Dana Hurley, who is shooting a film in town. On their last day together, the two of them wander the streets, get stuck in a rainstorm and share an easy camaraderie that gives them both pause. Jeremy is happily married, but Chantal’s low-key allure offers him a seductive glimpse of a life away from Dana’s fame. Pining for Chantal, Nico is assigned Josie Felton, a pretty young teacher from San Francisco. Still reeling from the sudden death of her much older (and married) lover, Josie cannot help but be delighted with the puppy-like Nico, who takes her shopping, flirts up a storm and tries to convince her to run away with him to Provence. But is it too soon? Sexy wannabe musician Philippe, meanwhile, meets up with the voluptuous Riley, a lonely expatriate mom whose animosity toward Paris is rivaled only by her disdain for her husband Vic. Lacking the confidence or ability to actually learn the language, Riley nonetheless makes a bold overture to Philippe, who responds with an enthusiasm that makes her rethink that whole hating-Paris thing. In spite of some overly familiar scenarios (Chantal’s flower-festooned houseboat picnic, Philippe’s hot bedroom antics), Sussman’s (On a Night Like This, 2004, etc.) breezy entry into the holiday-romance genre has a lot going for it and benefits greatly by giving the locals their point-of-view, too. 

Pleasantly evocative escape to the City of Love.

Pub Date: July 12th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-345-52277-1
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2011




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