I love finding books that leave me so completely satisfied, so filled with bubbling enthusiasm, that from the moment I close the cover (or in this case, power off my Nook), I want everyone I know to share in the joy of reading it. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins is that kind of awesome.
Normally, it’s difficult for me to get into books that are set in the contemporary, ordinary world. Because of this, I wasn’t expecting much from Anna and the French Kiss (*gasp* I know! EVERYONE loves it!). But I know myself, and I need to feel a degree’s separation from reality. What worked for me-- what kept me from feeling like the world was too “present”-- was the fact that the story takes place in Paris.
The setting plays a real part in Anna and the French Kiss. Almost like another character, giving off a vibe and adding richness and dimension. This book couldn’t have been set anywhere else. References to French culture abound, and I’m sure I only picked up on a fraction of them. After the book was over, the things I’d read about popped up in my thoughts, and I took to google quite a few times with my wondering.
What can I say about Anna? She’s one of those characters that felt so completely real to me, when I finished the book I wanted to find her on twitter, and check her blog to see what movies she’d reviewed recently. She’s real, you can’t convince me she’s not! She’s also funny, caring, and prone to missteps that lead to mistakes. Rather than making huge blunders I could see coming a mile away, hers were after-the-fact realizations, and I was right there with her, groaning as I’d understood what had happened-- retracing the events that led to those moments... I laughed hard and cried buckets. Everything Anna went through, I went through.
The chemistry between Anna and the swoonworthy Etienne was evident from their first meeting. Etienne, with his elegant English accent, is intelligent, charming, and dealing with almost more than he can handle. He hides his vulnerability and very real need for companionship behind smiles and wit, and sometimes in less healthy behavior, but what’s never lost is the kindness he carries with him throughout the book. Etienne has an indescribable magnetism that makes him impossible not to love, and a soft side that tugs at the heart.
There's little I can say about the plot (all this goodness, and a great plot too!) that won't spoil it, so I'll refrain :)
This slow-building romance is one of my new all time faves. It was addicting-- I read it in one sitting-- and weeks later, the story remains vibrant in my mind. I sincerely hope my brain was paying attention, because this book succeeded in every possibly way.