2014 EVENTS:
Holly Bourne, Non Pratt and James Dawson - 30th October
Becca Fitzpatrick - 15th November

Saturday, 26 April 2014

GUEST REVIEW: Anna and the French Kiss - Stephanie Perkins

Saturday, 26 April 2014
PAGES: 380
FORMAT: Paperback
BUY IT: Waterstones
RATING: 5 Stars

Anna is less than thrilled to be shipped off to boarding school in Paris, leaving a fledgling romance behind - until she meets Etienne St Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Etienne has it all... including a girlfriend. But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with a longed-for French kiss?

‘Anna and the French Kiss’ is the debut novel from Stephanie Perkins, first published in 2010. I’ve known about ‘Anna’ for the better part of three years, and only just got my hands on it. It moved instantly to the top of my To Be Read pile, and before I’d even finished it, it shot straight into the list of my all-time favourite books.

Anna Oliphant gets sent by her newly-minted dad to a boarding school in Paris for her senior year. SOAP (School of America in Paris) has English speaking students, but almost everyone speaks French as fluently as the locals - Anna’s language barrier is only the first obstacle. 
She’s adopted by football-playing Meredith and her group of friends, including the “boy masterpiece” that is Étienne St. Clair. 
St. Clair has it all: he’s charming, he’s got great hair, he speaks fluent French, he’s beautiful, he’s smart, he’s funny, he’s quirky - but he’s also got a college girlfriend. Anna is determined to ignore or downplay the connection they have. Until tragedy strikes in St. Clair’s family, and it’s Anna that manages to be there for him - and then they can’t ignore what’s between them, and Anna and St. Clair start to become Banana and Étienne.

The characters are the best part of this book. Every character is interesting, and reading their interactions is like eavesdropping on conversations with your own friends.
It’s probably no surprise that the main two characters are my favourite, but they’ve earned the spots. Anna is an every-girl: she learns to be brave, she’s funny, she tries to do the right thing, she wears Batman pyjamas, she drools in cake shops. Étienne is the perfect romantic hero: adorable in every way with flaws shooting right through him that never make him less lovable. Paris, the setting of the book, seems like a character itself: Stephanie’s descriptions and her way of poetically weaving the city into her sentences bring it to life.

Finding negatives about ‘Anna’ was a struggle: it took a re-read to find any, because after the first read my head was full of fluff and the rose-coloured glasses were firmly on. To nit-pick, the ending feels slightly rushed, after the detailed and faithful narrative - but given how much more time I could happily have spent with the characters, there’s no wonder I wanted a longer ending.

‘Anna’ is a great read. I raced through each page, stopping only to regret how close to the end I was. I actually laughed out loud, visibly cringed, clapped my hands in glee - at one point I had to put the book down while my cheeks cooled off from flaming in reaction to Anna’s own embarrassment. Anna and Étienne might be my OTP, and I can’t wait get another glimpse of them in the companion novels, ‘Lola and the Boy Next Door’ and ‘Isla and the Happily Ever After’.

- Kay.

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