Ah, Paris, the City of Lights and Love. Whenever I come across anything related to French, I would immediately feel giddy and romantic inside. I even took up a French language course when I was in college. Someday, I will surely make it a point of visiting Paris and go sight-seeing at its famous tourist spots – the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Notre Dame, just to name a few.
A couple of months ago, I bought Anna and the French Kiss – a book (French-related object!) that has built quite a buzz in the blogosphere for some time now, thus convincing me enough to buy it. Here’s the plot description of the book:
Anna was looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. So she’s less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris – until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all…including a serious girlfriend.
But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss? Stephanie Perkins keeps the romantic tension crackling and the attraction high in a debut guaranteed to make toes tingle and hearts melt.
On a general note, the book basically captured the senior-year-life experience of Anna during her stay in School of America in Paris (SOAP) for one year. She was actually sent by her father, a famous author whom she hated, to study there for the purpose that it will be for the better of Anna. It was a rough start for her – to study in a foreign country with no friends to begin with –, but Anna eventually made friends with Merideth , Rashmi, Josh, and St. Clair.
Having finished the book, I felt that I can completely relate with the protagonist, Anna. Her characteristic showed her OC-ness by the way she organized her things neatly. I am also a neat-freak. Just like Anna, I want things to be returned to the way they are supposed to be placed and I want everything to be clean as possible.
Although Anna didn’t try to find love in the most romantic place in France, her relationship with Étienne St. Clair soon bud into something more than just friendship. They became best of friends and Étienne flaunted his palpable charisma by being thoughtful enough to take Anna to places that made her feel welcomed in Paris. It may not be the grandest or the world-renowned places in Paris, but his sweet gesture amused and surprised Anna in the simplest way possible. Readers will come to love them both, especially the parts where their sexual tensions or raging hormones were evident whenever they were together. As much as they want to share that feeling, reality will set in as Étienne already had a girlfriend.
I liked the fact that the characters were portrayed as realistic as normal people in real life. Each of the characters had their own flaws while a part of them made them unique which will eventually outshine their flaws. In Étienne’s case, he was described as short (a few inches shorter than Anna), but to Anna, he was a perfect guy in a lot more ways anyone can imagine – his smile, his hair, his looks, his charisma, etc. In short, Stephanie Perkins created him imperfectly perfect – hence, allowing readers to relate to easily, since nobody is perfect in this world. Moreover, the supporting characters were not neglected by the author because they also played a big role in the book.
I won’t deny that I wanted to strangle Étienne at some parts of the book. His actions were inconsistent which left Anna confused by her feelings toward him. On the other hand, I guess this was crucial for the conflict of the story. Otherwise, the book will not be a successful work. Aside from this, Stephanie’s portrayal of Anna’s dad reminded me of an author I know. I was unsure if it was only a coincidence, or she intended to make fun or bash that author. Maybe she had this way of playing around characters that will make readers remember of a person they know in real life.
Moving on, I was glad that the story had depth in it. The feeling of loneliness was significantly tackled which showed that one way or another, it will affect one’s decisions, actions, and thoughts, whether it may result to a positive or negative outcome. A lot of things had happened in just a span of one year and toward the end of the book, it was evident that Anna, Étienne, and the rest of the characters grew mature over the course of time. They came to know themselves better. And obviously, the conflict was resolved. I couldn’t ask for a better ending than this. I liked this book. And I’m sure readers new to the book will enjoy Anna and the French Kiss as much as I did.