Christine from Padfoot’s Library is joining us today for Paris Month to share her review of A Paris Affair by Tatiana de Rosnay! Christine and I have become good friends over the last year or so, but it actually feels longer since I honestly can’t even remember where we first met! (Odds are it was most definitely a book event, definitely over our love of macarons..) I’m so excited to welcome her here this year with this guest post.
I want to first say how excited I am to be joining Paris Month with Michele. When I first met Michele, we immediately bonded over our love for macarons and Paris! I was a fan of her blog beforehand and the idea of a month devoted to all things Paris is amazing. I hope that you will all enjoy this guest review.
A Paris Affair by Tatiana De Rosnay (Translated by Sam Taylor)
Publishing Date: July 5, 2015 (Hardcover) | July 5, 2016 (Paperback)
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Pages: 128 pages
The Premise from the Publisher: “From the internationally best-selling author of Sarah’s Key Tatiana de Rosnay comes an irreverent yet heartfelt collection of short stories that examines our most intimate and forbidden desires. Late nights at the office… Hotel rooms and secret rendezvous… Lingering perfume… Sizzling texts… What takes place in Paris when husbands and wives tangle with infidelity? In this compulsively readable collection, Tatiana de Rosnay paints a portrait of forbidden loves in many shades – sometimes tragic, sometimes humorous, sometimes heartfelt, always with a dry wit and unflinching authenticity. A PARIS AFFAIR will take you on a vacation overseas, into the hidden lives of husbands, wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, where illicit desire wars with duty, and where a French take on romance will surprise you every time” (St. Martin’s Press).
My overall thoughts and review: When I first read the premise for the book, I have to admit I was a bit apprehensive. Being someone who is a devoted long-term relationship, reading a collection about short stories surrounded around the topic of infidelity definitely made me uncomfortable at some moments. That being said, I really approached this collection as magical realism and what drew me in was the setting: Paris. I’ve only been to Paris once before a few years back and during that time I was only able to visit the major tourist settings in the time I was there. de Rosnay takes the reader beyond those places and brings the reader into more “private settings”: bedrooms, hotel rooms, unknown rooms, cafes and more. The book consists of 11 short stories and they are told from the perspective of different individuals. The unique thing about this collection is that it moves from first-person perspective with a stream of consciousness style, to love letters, memories and conversations. Each story is unique and takes a different approach to Parisian romance. I did mention earlier that most of the stories look at infidelity and fantasies, which can definitely leave most readers walking away feeling depressed with the reality that this does happen.. however, I like to look at it more so, as a collection of love stories with a twist.
My favorite story of the collection has to be the first one: “The Hotel” where the protagonist writes a letter to his lover to break up with her and with the intention of returning to his life with his wife as if nothing has happened. However, things get tricky for him and as he walks away from the hotel where he slipped the letter, an accident happens and the hotel is burned to the ground. He is then conflicted with guilt and sadness, and debates how to move forward. I don’t want to spoil this short story, but the ending was quite humorous, which I wasn’t expecting from one of the short stories. All in all, Tatiana de Rosnay puts together a strange, whimsical, at times depressing (but realistic), funny and dark collection of short stories that look at Parisian romance. What I really enjoyed is that although de Rosnay does not offer the reader super descriptive sections to build the setting, the reader is always firmly aware that the text takes place in Paris. It is something about Paris that draws these fantasies and interactions. Tatiana de Rosnay offers readers a deep look into a Paris that us readers have only imagined in the past. I think fans of Haruki Murakami will enjoy this book, because similar to him, de Rosnay tackles “taboo” topics such as infidelity and really focus on the setting.
My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮ (4/5 stars)
Disclaimer: I received an arc copy of this book last year from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.