Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins

Sometimes, even though one has overdue library books and a pile of Cybils books and a (small but substantial) pile of ARCs, not to mention books received as Christmas presents last year, waiting to be read....one finds oneself in the bookstore buying a new book. A book that promises to be utterly untaxing, different in genre and subject from one's usual fare.

This happened to me on Wednesday, and so tonight, with a sigh of relief that a difficult week was over (thank goodness older son's two week study of sheep and wool, which required extensive essay writing and journal keeping, which in turn required substantial parental enforcing, is over), I settled down in front of the fire and read Anna and the French Kiss cover to cover.

And though Anna's nervousness at starting her senior year at a boarding school in Paris made for a gripping beginning (I'm being sincere--I'm a fan of boarding school stories), it was, not unexpectedly, it was the growing romantic tension and sweetly taut frisson of her relationship with her hot classmate Etienne that kept the pages turning rapidly. I could, though, have done without all the part in the final third of the book when things not going smoothly, and skimmed many bits of unhappiness. A book entirely comprised of sweet frisson might not be quite substantial enough in the long run, but it would have been more soothing.

My own particular mental state aside, it was good reading, but it wasn't a perfect book. It requires a certain suspension of disbelief, not just in regard to the relationship between Anna and Etienne. The Mean Girl, for instance, was an almost ridiculous stereotype--I couldn't believe in her. And on a very minor note, how could Anna, film aficionado that she was, have arrived in Paris ignorant of its cinema scene? Wouldn't she, as I just did, have googled it before getting on the plane? (in three seconds ,I found this: "With over 300 films playing per week around the city, Paris is the place to be for film lovers. You'll find everything from arty retrospectives in intimate old theaters to blockbusters with surround-sound in ultramodern multiplexes. Here's a guide to the city's best spots for the seventh art.")

Still. Anna and the French Kiss kept me nicely occupied, and I am sure I'll be impulse buying its companion novel, Lola and the Boy Next Door, next time I find myself in a similar mood! (I could, of course, order it from the library....but the problem with that is that then it would be Demanding Attention. Not the same feel at all).


  1. I felt the same way about the final 1/3. And had similar thoughts about Anna's love of films. That little inconsistency did not annoy me as much as Ettiene saying "me mum" all the time. Overall it is a lovely book for that sort of mood. I was in a similar mood last night and read Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle.

  2. Occasionally I like to tiptoe into the field of YA, too--and this book is perfect for that! The boarding school in Paris won me over (although wouldn't she have been more excited about it at first? and I skimmed the cinema parts). I also liked Donna Freitas's Possibilities of Sainthood, which is set in RI--you might consider it when you're next in the mood for some escapist reading.

  3. This is such a fun and cozy read, isn't it? I included it in my favorite reads last year even though I had problems with the latter half of the story like you did. I felt like it took too long for Etienne to break up with his girlfriend when it was so obvious that there's something between him and Anna.

  4. I have wanted to read this book for a while. It seems to be a blogger favourite. One day I will read it.

  5. "Me Mum" didn't bother me, Brandy...but I have an English husband who uses it somewhat tongue in cheek-ly quite frequently.

    I will add Possibilities of Sainthood to my list--thanks for the recommendation!

    I agree, Chachic--I wanted to shake him just tad...

    Do try it, Kailana, when you're in the mood for a nicely diverting read!

  6. I feel you on the untaxing front. I had pretty bad burn out a week ago from reading at least 3 CYBILS books per weekend and 3 book during the week for several weeks straight and just had to read a book that is outside the realm of MG SFF.

    I am glad that Anna And The French Kiss met your needs, it is rather wonderful for palate cleansing and to help re-focus. I guess I'm good at suspending disbelief because when I read Anna, those things didn't bother me.

  7. After finishing this book, I realized how fortunate I am to have my own Etienne, wonderfully unconventional friends, and my own opportunity to grow my confidence while establishing independence. I can't wait to pass this along to everyone I know.


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