LESSONS IN FRENCH by Hilary  Reyl

LESSONS IN FRENCH

KIRKUS REVIEW

Debut author Reyl’s coming-of-age novel about a young American artist who paints captivating scenes of life in The City of Light.

It’s 1989: A wave of revolution sweeps the Eastern Bloc countries, Salman Rushdie’s inflammatory book, The Satanic Verses, is published, and Kate, a recent Yale graduate, arrives in Paris to work as an assistant for famed photojournalist Lydia Schell. Kate’s an artist who's still seeking her direction, and she's excited about the opportunity she's been offered, even if, per her contract, she has to pay $400 of her $600 monthly salary to live in the tiny garret of the family's home. Kate’s lived in France before as a child and speaks flawless French. When she was younger, she was sent to live with cousins after her father was diagnosed with cancer. He lost his battle two years later, and Kate's feelings of being cheated out of being with her father during his final days and her desire to do something that would make him proud are part of the baggage she carries. She's a naïve young woman who craves approval, and she wants very badly to fit in. But the self-absorbed, pretentious Schell family doesn't exactly welcome Kate as one of their own, and she's treated more like a servant than an assistant: walking the family dog and cleaning up urine; acting as a go-between for Lydia and her husband, Clarence, and for Clarence and a graduate student; acting as a companion to Portia, the daughter, who’s been dumped by a man with whom Kate's secretly having a relationship. But in her naïve way, Kate rationalizes that she's learning a great deal from all these experiences, so she's willing to be the doormat that everyone uses but no one really noticesup to a point. With age and experience, Kate becomes more aware of who she is and what she wants, and ultimately, she grows into her own person.

Un bon livre.

Pub Date: March 5th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4516-5503-2
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2012




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