Sarah Morgan is the author of the Snow Crystal Trilogy, a series of books that I read every Christmas because they are just such heartwarming fab reads. When I saw that One Summer in Paris was coming out I thought I’d give it a go, see if her summer offering was as good as the festive fayre I favour from her.
This review contains spoilers, so be warned, don’t read ahead if you don’t want to know a pretty big plot point….
Up until about 80% I would probably have given this book a solid 4 – 4.5 stars. It has good character building, a plausible plot, and relatable family dynamics. And then something happened that just completely ruined it for me.
Grace is a 47 year old teacher, with a loving husband of 25 years and a teenage daughter, who is about to depart for college. They live in America, in their small town, where every one knows every one else, and things have been the same forever.
One day Grace’s husband David, drops the bombshell that he is having an affair and leaving her. Not only does he drop his news on Valentines day, it is also their 25 year anniversary. Grace had planned a summer holiday to Paris for the two of them as an anniversary present, but now has to face the reality of either going alone or giving up the tickets. So first plus point for Grace is that she decides to go alone – hurrah!
Audrey is a teenager from England, who needs to get away from her alcoholic mother and the home situation that puts her in. She is a carer for her mother, cleaning up after her, making excuses for her. Her mother, Linda, has no time for Audrey as she is so wrapped up in herself. Audrey finally manages to save enough money for a summer trip to Paris, only for Linda to inadvertently throw it out. After much distress and angst, Audrey’s work pals buy her a ticket and she is on her way.
Grace and Audrey meet, they become firm friends, and we follow their summer in Paris.
If you focus on living well in the moment, you will never have regrets about yesterday.
Now, I was really enjoying this story. Grace was a super organised, pre-plan woman who fixes everything, always had a plan of action and generally had herself and her life put together. I enjoyed reading about her character and was appalled at David for ruining what they had with a stupid fling with a girl his daughter’s age. Audrey thought the same as me. So we were at least at this point on the same wavelength.
Grace changes her looks and her personality in Paris, then just as she’s getting a bit of lovin’ from her ex-love Phillipe, David shows up and wants them to get back together. NO. Do not do this Grace. I knew where this was headed as soon as he arrived. In fact before he arrived, because Mimi came with him.
Mimi is Grace’s grandmother who effectively raised Grace after her parents were killed in a car crash. She’s vivacious, funny, outspoken, lively… and about 90 years old!
“I love you”.
“Of course you do. I’m the buttercream frosting on the stale cake that is life.”
I was soooo hoping that Grace would surprise me and not go back to David, but in the end that is what happened, and that is why I changed my rating for this book from 4 stars to 3.5, rounded down!!
I was absolutely gutted. She even started saying that she could understand why he did it, and she was partly responsible for letting their marriage get so predictable. NO…. so I got angry 🙂 This could have ended on a high note where Grace realises she is better off without any bloke at all – she doesn’t need a cheater like David or a flake like Phillippe. She could have just been happy with herself. But nah, she couldn’t possibly handle being alone, she needs a man to be complete….?!
Audrey, I felt, completely changed from when she was home in London, to when she was in Paris. I felt like I was reading two different characters. Not just the progression of the character, but it was like a completely new character. She sounded down trodden in London, being caring and looking after her mum, but then in Paris she was sarcastic and rude. I struggled to like her when she was being obnoxious, but as she softened during her time with Grace, I found her a bit more appealing.
So overall, this is a book about love and friendship and imperfect families, including those families you choose for yourself. I did enjoy the majority of this book. It was only the ending that I had a particular problem with – but it coloured my take on the whole thing unfortunately. I will definitely read more Sarah Morgan though – this doesn’t change how much I love her other books! 🙂
(Thank you to NetGalley and the author for gifting me with a free copy of this book to read and review).