Ah, Paris, City of Light. Several of my friends read Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins, and spoke very highly of it, and the title character shares my name. How could I not put in on my TBR pile?
Anna Oliphant is a high school senior whose famous-author father has arbitrarily decided she would benefit from a year abroad before she graduates. The School of America in Paris (or SOAP) is an elite institution at which middle-class, movie-loving Anna does not feel immediately at home. She's left her mother and younger brother, as well as her best friend Bridgette and the boy that she kissed the night before she left for France. At SOAP, she is befriended by a girl named Meredith, and falls into her group of friends, which includes the beautiful (and taken), British-accented Étienne St. Clair.
The chemistry between Anna and St. Clair is immediate, and the bulk of the book is essentially a "will they-won't they" that unfolds over the course of her year in Paris. Anna and the French Kiss is a quick read, but Perkins takes the time to build the relationship between Anna and St. Clair. My favorite part of the book is Anna's slow acclimation to a different way of life. She comes to Paris without friends, without knowing French, and feeling completely inadequate. She figures out how to manage and do the things she likes (most importantly, going to movie theaters) to the point that she actually misses Paris while she's home over Christmas. In that way, the story is as much a love letter to Paris, as well as people's ability to be at home anywhere, as long as are in the company of those they love.
Are we to mentally pronounce "St. Clair" as "Sinclair," like St. John in Jane Eyre? It worked out OK when I tried it, although I kept slipping up when I wasn't paying attention.
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