Thursday, February 13, 2020

Book Review: "Goodbye, Paris" by Anstey Harris

In Goodbye, Paris, a woman whose life is shattered finds the strength to turn everything around, thanks to two unlikely allies.

"The only way I am going to start to rebuild my life is on a ladder of honesty. This is where I start; this naked vision of me."

Grace is a talented luthier; the musical instruments she makes and restores are praised by musicians and collectors around the world. At one time she had a promising future as a musician herself, until a traumatic incident led to her departure from music school and her inability to play in front of anyone. Alone she can play forever; the minute someone steps into view she has a panic attack.

Grace has been in a relationship with David for eight years, shuttling back and forth from her home in the UK to his apartment in Paris. Everything has been arranged to fit David’s life; she has kept everyone else at bay while they’re together. She knows there will come a time when they can be together always, and she just needs to be patient. But in a split second, with a single reaction, everything changes, forcing Grace to push everything—and everyone—away, and to destroy the things she cherishes so much.

It will take the love and support of her teenage shop assistant and an elderly customer to find her passion again, to embrace the things she should and say goodbye to the things that hurt. That will involve reopening some old wounds and finding the courage to move on.

Goodbye, Paris was a really good story and I even got choked up a bit. (That should be surprising and yet not surprising at all.) It has some slow moments but Anstey Harris has created some tremendously memorable characters, and things unfold slightly differently than I expected. It's always nice to have a surprise or two when reading a romance novel, which are never that big on surprises.

My greatest criticism isn't of the book, it's of the marketing of it. The blurb refers to this book as "Jojo Moyes meets Eleanor Oliphant." I'm never keen on comparing books to the latest thing, because most of the time it either sets up expectations or makes people who didn't like the books it's being compared to shy away. Suffice it to say, there's not a trace of Oliphantishness in this book, and I'm not even certain where the Moyes comparison comes in.

Goodbye, Paris is a good book in its own right. It's a poignant, thought-provoking story worth reading.

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