Monday, August 30, 2021

Book Review: The Paris Connection

By Jami Denison

I love travel. But as a writer and a fan of domestic thrillers, I’m always hyper aware of what could go wrong. Getting lost in a city where I don’t speak the language is one of my worst nightmares. I once traveled to Germany with a friend rather than meeting her in Italy just so I wouldn’t get stranded in an Italian airport on my own. 

In Lorraine Brown’s debut novel, The Paris Connection (also published as Uncoupling), her heroine Hannah gets caught up in this very specific nightmare of mine. Luckily for Hannah, she’s starring in a romantic comedy, not a thriller, so her stakes are relatively low and fun. But there’s always a message in romance, and this one had me thinking.

British couple Hannah and Si are on their dream trip to Venice before his sister’s wedding in Amsterdam. Hannah thinks she and Si are mismatched; he’s a dreamboat with rich parents, a great job, and the ability to handle everything. Hannah, though, is a mess with daddy issues. On the overnight train to Amsterdam, Hannah can’t get to sleep, and she changes carriages in order to spread out. When she wakes up that morning, she’s in Paris – the trains uncoupled overnight, and Si is in Amsterdam with her passport and money. Hannah is stranded and Catherine’s wedding is that evening! Luckily, there’s one other person in this same predicament – an arrogant Frenchman named Leo. When they both miss the next train to Amsterdam, they have hours to kill in Paris, and decide to spend them together. Naturally, sparks fly.

This book takes readers on a tour through the Paris that only the locals know. There are quaint little shops (so much eating!), a special view of the Eiffel Tower, a motorbike tour. Hannah, a budding photographer stuck in an admin job, has her camera and shares with Leo her dream of taking a real photography class. Si, she confides, thinks it’s an expense that spendthrift Hannah can’t afford. And while Hannah and Leo spill their secrets to each other, Hannah starts to wonder about secrets that Si might be keeping. Why is he texting with one of his sister’s bridesmaids?

The Paris Connection is a sweet, typical romantic comedy. And in a rom-com, readers know who and what to root for. But I had mixed feelings about it, especially about the ending. Maybe it’s because I’m 53, not 30, or maybe because I’ve never followed the rules about which couples I’m supposed to root for. The book brought up big questions for me about forgiveness, about how to handle a situation when a person isn’t who everyone expects them to be. Life is complicated; love is complicated, and even one beautiful day in Paris doesn’t change that. 

Thanks to Putnam for the book in exchange for an honest review.

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