Tuesday, 17 July 2012

tuesday titles 006..

French Lessons by Ellen Sussman
Now I know it's been rather a while since my last Tuesday Titles post, but I've been finding that I'm reading at a snail's pace recently. I think I've been struggling with my concentration since my recent head injury, which probably hasn't helped.

However I decided I'd post a review of something I finished recently and enjoyed.

French Lessons by Ellen Sussman

Perhaps as a result of the terrible concentration levels recently, the way this book was split up really appealed to me. The story revolves around three language tutors, who as well as working for the same school are sort of connected in a bit of a love triangle. After setting the scene with their situation, the rest of the book is split into a section for each pair (tutor and student).

The first student, Josie, who is already a language teacher takes her lesson because, I think, she is feeling lost and wants a way to find her way back on track with her life after some dramatic events. Caring and sensitive Nico seems to guide her back.

Jeremy's story is also about finding who he is rather than continuing to live in his wife's shadow; he and Chantelle spend a day of romantic promise together, which causes him to re-evaluate his relationship with his wife and try to decide who he wants to be and find that person once more.

Riley; who moved to Paris to follow her husband, also feels lost. Staying at home with her young children whilst her husband works seems even worse in a country she isn't familiar with, so she too is feeling lost. I think I liked her and Philippe's story least of the three, but enjoyed that all three students were using their lessons as a way to find something they were missing in their lives.

I liked that the entire book covered the events of just one day. My only slight criticism would be that as I was reading, I'd expected the events to overlap a little more than they did, as readers have come to expect from settings like this. To be fair though, the three pairs did all end up at the same location towards the end of their days together and perhaps the less coincidence the book is filled with probably makes the whole thing a bit more realistic, as it seems to me it only tends to be in films and novels that everyone comes together at the end for a big crescendo of coincidence.

I'd certainly recommend French Lessons to anyone wanting a light read. It's an enjoyable book, but probably not one I'd read more than once. There isn't a lot of character building for the students, although some back story comes out during the course of their conversations, but the nature of the story, where everything happens in one day, means that it's not easy for the reader to connect with any one character massively, so the story probably isn't going to stick with you for long once you've finished it. That isn't really a criticism, just a statement of fact. I really liked it, and that kind of set-up was just what I was looking for. {Thank you to Emily at Constable and Robin for asking me to review this.}

1 comment:

  1. Oo thanks for the tip! My concentration is a bit low at the moment too, I need something I can read without too much dedication =)