Wednesday, 10 August 2011

French Lessons

Finished August 10
French Lessons by Ellen Sussman, read by Kathe Mazur
This is a delightful little novel about love and Paris.
It is structured around three private French tutors and their clients, on a single day in Paris.
It begins with the three tutors meeting before going off on their teaching tasks for the day. We how they interact with each other, and get a taste of their characters.
We then move to each tutor with their client. Nico, a man in his early thirties, tutoring and about to publish his first collection of poetry has a client who is a young American French schoolteacher, Josie. Josie is suffering from a recent loss and trying to find a way to move forward. We see how he draws her out and gets her to engage with life again.
Philippe, a shameless flirt who has a life as a musician as well meets his long-term client Riley. Riley is an expat American housewife, who has followed her businessman husband to Paris with her two young children. Riley is struggling with French and feels lonely and disconnected from everyone but her children. Recent news from her mother has her feeling even sadder about life. Philippe changes his usual practice with her and the flirting awakes Riley's passion again, for life, for Paris, for a future she can look forward to.
Chantal is a beautiful young woman who has spent a week with Jeremy, the husband of a famous American actress who is shooting a film in Paris. Jeremy's wife has hired her to help Jeremy become more comfortable with speaking French. This is their last day together and they begin as usual with moving through the city talking about what they see. Because of a fight Jeremy had the night before with his wife, he is feeling ungrounded and sees Chantal differently. They meet both Jeremy's stepdaughter and wife during their lesson time and stray from their usual routine and conversation to become more personal.
We end up back with the tutors again, seeing how the day has changed them and how they move forward with their lives.
This was an interesting book, light yet with deeper insights. Romantic and thoughtful, we see how the characters learn from the experience and allow themselves to move on with their lives as different people.

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