One Summer in Paris by Sarah Morgan
In the middle of a reading rut, I decided to turn to one of my favourite authors, Sarah Morgan. I would credit this novel with getting me out of the reading rut as this was just perfect for the moment I was reading it in. This was published in time for Summer 2019 and I treated myself at the same time to the Summer 2021 release called Summer Seekers. I must also admit full disclosure here and say that Paris is one of my favourite cities in the world. Forget 'You had me at hello', Sarah Morgan had me at Paris.
The Plot (from the back)
Grace can't believe it when her husband of 25 years announces he doesn't want to join her on an anniversary trip to Paris - instead he wants a divorce. Reeling from the shock, Grace makes the bold decision to go on this holiday of a lifetime alone.
Audrey leaves behind heartache of her own when she arrives in Paris. A job in a bookshop is her ticket to freedom, but with no knowledge of the French language, her summer adventure seems doomed to fail, until she meets Grace and everything changes.
Grace and Audrey form an unlikely friendship. They come to Paris to find themselves, but finding each other might be the best thing that's happened to them.
Like I said earlier, this book was the perfect read for the place was in. I loved Grace and Audrey. Grace was so busy organising everything and taking care of everyone that she forgot to have fun along the way and enjoy taking the slower path. Instead of a busy Parisien itinerary, she enjoys relaxing by the River Seine with fresh bread, a ripe Brie and grapes or sitting on her balcony sipping a very strong cup of coffee. It reads wonderfully and reminds us all to just be. Be present, be in the moment and all that it has to offer.
Audrey is delightful and I loved her; Awkward, shy and yet very brave. She leaves her home, her alcoholic mother who she has looked after for most of her life and comes to Paris. We see her blossoming friendship with Grace and how she encourages Grace to take a chance and not hide herself away. For somebody so young, she fully knows her own mind. Her first tentative relationship is joyful with all of the awkwardness and over-thinking that such relationships bring.
In fact this is a novel packed full fo strong women with Grace's French Grandmother, Mimi, proving an enigmatic anchor. The men in the book are almost secondary. Philippe is a love affair enjoyed, Etienne is a total star and Grace's feckless husband I found to be a bit wet if I'm honest. But this maybe was because I was appalled at his actions to begin with, so I took against him somewhat.
The aspect I enjoyed the most though, and credit to Sarah Morgan is how she firmly shines the spotlight on female friendships. This is not a romance novel where two characters meet each other and fall in love. Instead we are treated to the lives of 2 brilliant women and their friendship. They support each other following life's traumas. This friendship is sensitively explored and ultimately celebrated. So maybe this is a book about two people falling in love. Plus it's set in Paris. What is not to love?