Monday 24 November 2014

Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins book cover

Title: Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Series: Anna and the French Kiss, #1
Format: Hardback, owned
My rating: 3.5 / 5
Setting: Paris, France
Pages: 372

Add to Goodreads

Anna is 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. Which is why she is 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?

-- As seen on Goodreads

My Thoughts

Anna and the French Kiss was everything I expected it to be: a fun, cute, sugary sweet feel-good contemporary romance set in Paris. The list of positives is quite a healthy one:

1) - I loved the writing style! It’s very moreish and I loved getting lost and swept away with the story.

2) - I loved Anna’s narration! It has a conversational style at times, and it’s so absorbing and entertaining. I loved how natural she came across.

3) - I liked the Paris setting, and the way it’s described – even though it bordered on cliché a few times…

4) - The secondary characters were really appealing, and it felt like they had a purpose in the story, rather than being filler characters to fill a necessary role.

5) - I loved the ending, and I had so many “awwww” moments all through the book.


(Yeah, it was a little obvious the ‘but’ was coming…)

I’m not sure if I like Anna! She has quite a few good points, and while her narration style really appealed to me, her attitude grated on my nerves more than once. Her manner feels inconsistent. Right from the start, she wanted to blend in with the French and to not stick out like an American tourist in France. Fine. Except… she doesn’t even try to blend in! Anna allows everyone around her to speak for her. She doesn’t even attempt to communicate with anyone that isn’t a native English speaker! This does not match my interpretation of “blending in”… I can accept her reluctance at the beginning: she’s in a new country and she needs time to adjust, so depending on her new schoolmates is quite natural. But, when this continues to happen for the majority of the book, I begin to have an issue with it. What bothered me even more: she makes the effort to learn how ask to buy a ticket to go the theatre, but doesn’t make any effort whatsoever to order FOOD in French. Let me see… last time I checked, we need food to LIVE! That’s kinda important! Hell, isn’t that what body language is for? I’m pretty sure if you begin clucking like a chicken and pointing at the chicken dish on the menu, you’ll end up succeeding in getting some sustenance for yourself! Another thing that stuck in my mind: she was taking beginner French for three months, and she doesn’t even know the language she is trying to speak…

" “Uhh.” I gesture around feebly and shrug my shoulders. “Je ne parle pas…”
I don’t speak… "

I could accept it if this was on page 50, but on page 159 of a 372 page book? Not so much. From my own experience with French class in school, I learned these sentences in the first week of First Year French class, so I have very little sympathy.

And even more with the unpopular opinion time… I didn’t go completely ga-ga over the romance between Anna and Étienne. (Ok, brace yourself) I kinda think Étienne is a coward. He stands up to certain people, yet doesn’t have the courage to stand up to his girlfriend. I guess I didn’t take to him as much as I was expecting. Yeah, I swooned at the swoonish parts, and felt all warm-and-fuzzy at the ending and enjoyed seeing how their relationship grew, but it wasn’t AS engaging as I was expecting. I think the hype added to my already high expectations and completely blew my hopes for the book out of all reasoning.

I think my early problems with Anna had too much of a lasting effect on my overall opinions, in honesty. I’d begin to settle into the book and enjoy the story, when she’d go back to her old ways and it would drag me back out of that lovely and cushy reading world. I’ll give credit where it’s due: I’m glad Anna realised her flaws and actually managed to rectify them and change her attitude. It took her a long, long time but I’m glad and can appreciate that she did actually grow as a character.

My overall opinion? Well, I’m kinda torn! On one hand, Anna and the French Kiss does exactly what I expected it to do – and does it extremely well. Then, I look at the main characters, and I feel a bit underwhelmed. No question about it, I really enjoyed the story, it’s just Anna (and to a lesser degree, Étienne) that didn’t quite work as well as I was expecting. I plan on continuing on with the next two books in the series, but I think my expectations will be a lot more realistic with those.

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