Monday, 29 April 2013

Review ~ Lessons in French - Hilary Reyl (ARC)

Lessons in FrenchPaperback received from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review

Expected Release Date:  1st June 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins

First love: first heartbreak. First job: first nightmare boss. A seductive coming-of-age tale set in the most romantic city on earth.

Fresh out of university and determined to dream big, Kate can hardly believe her luck when she lands a job as a ‘little-bit-of-everything’ to the world famous photo-journalist Lydia Schell. Better still, the job is in Paris, and her guide to the most romantic city on earth is the handsome Olivier. The Berlin Wall is about to come tumbling down, and the world feels full of possibility.

But the oh-so-charming Lydia turns out to be the boss from hell. The ‘little-bit-of-everything’ includes collecting under-the-counter diet pills and walking a flatulent dog round the rainy streets of the sixth arrondissement. And the gorgeous Olivier? He happens to be dating Lydia’s daughter…

As the two worlds of her disastrous job and exciting flirtation look set to collide, Kate is about to get a fast education in the French approach to having it all.

My Opinion

When I got this book in the post I was really excited to start reading it. The cover looked interesting like a sweet romance, something I would like - and I really did want to like this book even though I couldn't bring myself to by the end of it. No matter how much I wished I could engage with the book and grow to love it I just couldn't.

The main thing I struggled with while reading this book was the language. The author seemed to use too many words to describe something insignificant where, for example she could have said it in four. Because of this there was massive paragraphs of description that left me bored as the story moved along too slowly. As well as this the author appeared to go from one extreme to the other in terms of description and parts I actually wanted to read about were skipped with an off the cuff comment for example "We had sex." There was no description - and I don't mean graphic detail - but there wasn't even a romantic build up and at times the author seemed to state facts rather than show the audience what she meant, allowing them to visualise it. 

Due to this fact, I did find it very hard to connect with the characters. They felt stiff and unrealistic, especially Kate who seemed incapable of being able to think for herself. I mean it took her the whole book to figure something out that really wasn't that hard. The family she lives with are shallow and just as irritating as they make her run after their every whim. I don't know if this disconnection was down to the lack of detail and jumpy style of writing but I really felt nothing for the characters - I just found myself not caring either way.

As well as this the author used random French phrases throughout the novel and although this gave the book an authentic quality I found them slightly pointless and irritating. For one, I dropped French when I was fourteen so struggling with pronunciation made me just skip the sections in French as they detracted from the flow too much. Also I did find myself questioning what their point was as it seemed at times like a way to add extra words as the author would have to translate some of the phrases after. For me it didn't make sense to have them if they just had to be translated.

The book did however pick up slightly about three quarters of the way in (a little late, but better late than never right?). The writing began to flow better and so did the speech, especially when Kate and Oliver were together. It seemed more natural and even though I was dying for there to be more romance, I was able to read these sections without skipping parts, which is why I put my rating up to two stars.

Overall I got to the end of the book and no matter how much I wanted to like it I ended up feeling I had just wasted a lot of my time. This book did sound like 'The Devil Wears Prada' from the description but it didn't really go anywhere. There was a lack of actual romance and heartbreak and the characters were impossible to engage with, especially when apart. There was one redeeming quality but for me it wasn't enough for me to wish I had stopped reading when I first got bored as it didn't pick up enough for me to change my attitude towards it.

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