In this follow-up novel, an American woman who left her husband to live in Paris discovers obstacles to living her dream.
Amy Brodie, first introduced in The Paris Effect (2016), abruptly left her Phoenix home and her husband, Will, for a Paris adventure after the death of her best friend, Kat. It was to have been a short trip, but after a brief visit home and argument with Will, she decided to stay on in the City of Light. Amy’s new landlady, Margaret, a 60-ish British expat who’s been lonely after her adult daughter’s disappearance, has two friends who’ve become Amy’s own: Hervé, self-absorbed but theatrically charming, and Manu (short for Emmanuel), who once dated Margaret’s daughter. Amy works for Manu’s catering delivery service, a good fit—she loves everything food-related and writes a blog called Fun French Food. On the day of Amy’s 30th birthday, Will shows up in Paris at the same time another unexpected guest arrives at Margaret’s house. Both visits introduce complications that upend Amy’s newly arranged and blissful life, giving her several questions to answer: Should she stay in Paris or return to Phoenix? Go through with her divorce or not? Uncertain, yet with a newfound trust in her intuition, Amy must make choices that will affect more than herself. Burns offers an appealing heroine in Amy, who has managed to let go of her self-admitted “insane” relationship with food in favor of one that’s fulfilling and creative, reflected even when describing Margaret’s apartment: “The butter-pat yellow walls, the chocolate and robin’s egg blue Aubusson carpet, the clove-dark beams.” Though such a novel could easily become shallow wish-fulfillment fantasy, Burns adds several layers of complication: secrets and lies to be unraveled; a history of grief and loss; and opportunities to prove Amy’s skill and resourcefulness, as when putting together a meal from an almost bare pantry. Amy’s voice is wry, honest, and articulate, a pleasure to spend time with.
An entertaining read for Francophiles, foodies, and romantics.