2 February 2016

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Hey everyone,

The Anna and the French Kiss series by Stephanie Perkins was something I started reading thanks to the wonderful book community on Tumblr. But being a slightly disorganised and eccentric British person, I read the series backwards. Starting with Isla, followed by Lola and finally finishing with Anna, the one everyone raves about most. Although I loved Anna and the French Kiss I wouldn’t say it was my favourite of the three.

The book:

Can Anna find love in the City of Light?

Anna is happy in Atlanta. She has a loyal best friend and a crush on her coworker at the movie theater, who is just starting to return her affection. So she's less than thrilled when her father decides to send her to a boarding school in Paris for her senior year.

But despite not speaking a word of French, Anna meets some cool new people, including the handsome Étienne St. Clair, who quickly becomes her best friend. Unfortunately, he's taken —and Anna might be, too. Will a year of romantic near misses end with the French kiss she's waiting for?

My thoughts:

Anna and the French Kiss is possibly the most romantic depiction of first (and lasting) love I have ever read. And for a regular reader of romance that is a pretty big claim. Yet it is true. Anna and Étienne meet when Annas father decides it would be a good idea for her to complete her high-school education in Paris. The fact Anna doesn’t speak French and has no desire to leave her friend doesn’t matter at all. The one bright moment for Anna about moving to an American boarding school in Paris is meeting Étienne.

I mean, really. Who sends their kid to boarding school? It's so Hogwarts. Only mine doesn't have cute boy wizards or magic candy or flying lessons.

He’s funny, charming, laid-back and seems to like her back. The only issue is he has a girlfriend, an older, attractive and long-term girlfriend. So they become friends. He welcome her into his friendship circle, takes time out of his day to show her around Paris and gives her the confidence to start exploring the city for herself. Rather than focusing on the attraction between her and Étienne, Anna stays emotionally loyal to the boy she had a brief ‘relationship’ with in Atlanta. So how can a book where the two main characters are with other people be so romantic?

Why is it that the right people never wind up together? Why are people so afraid to leave a relationship, even if they know it's a bad one?

Bizarrely it is this very fact that makes Anna and the French Kiss so romantic. Because Anna and Étienne choose to stay loyal to other people, it allows the friendship between them to develop instead. They talk about their passions, their insecurities, they learn to have fun together. In short they become best friends. But beneath the surface the attraction and romantic connection is always simmering. It is this balance between best friends, and being more than best friends, that Stephanie Perkins portrays so well. The moments when Anna and Étienne are so close to crossing that line are the most potent scenes in the book.

I wish friends held hands more often, like the children I see on the streets sometimes. I'm not sure why we have to grow up and get embarrassed about it.

Overall I really enjoyed Anna and the French Kiss. I loved the descriptions of Paris, the fact that Anna and Etienne could just have fun together and of course the raft of wonderful secondary characters. Yet I personally still preferred Isla and the Happily Ever Afters. Because of this the scenes with Josh and Isla in (separate scenes mind you) where some of my favourite in the novel.

My rating:
Happy reading and see you next time!