By Anstey Harris
Read by: Tania Rodrigues
Length: 8 hrs and 57 mins
Release date: 08-07-18
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Jojo Moyes meets Eleanor Oliphant in Goodbye, Paris, an utterly charming novel that proves that sometimes you have to break your heart to make it whole.
Grace once had the beginnings of a promising musical career, but she hasn’t been able to play her cello publicly since a traumatic event at music college years ago. Since then, she’s built a quiet life for herself in her small English village, repairing instruments and nurturing her long- distance affair with David, the man who has helped her rebuild her life even as she puts her dreams of a family on hold until his children are old enough for him to leave his loveless marriage.
But when David saves the life of a woman in the Paris Metro, his resulting fame shines a light onto the real state of the relationship(s) in his life. Shattered, Grace hits rock bottom and abandons everything that has been important to her, including her dream of entering and winning the world’s most important violin-making competition. Her closest friends—a charming elderly violinist with a secret love affair of his own, and her store clerk, a gifted but angst-ridden teenage girl—step in to help, but will their friendship be enough to help her pick up the pieces?
Filled with lovable, quirky characters, this poignant novel explores the realities of relationships and heartbreak and shows that when it comes to love, there’s more than one way to find happiness.
This week I am looking at Paris and France and the two books I read recently placed there. This is one of those novels about Paris in which Paris is actually symbolic of love and angst, hard love and infidelity.
There is one hard and fast rule in dating: do not engage in a love relationship with a married man – not one who is “going to leave his wife as soon as fill in the blank,” nor with one who “has an arrangement with his wife: ‘Really, it’s been over for years, we’re staying married just for the kids/finances/a rich uncle’s will/a job/etc.'”
I have never seen or heard of an extramarital relationship that turned out for the best where the couple was not already separated and/or filed for divorce and keeping separate rooms, and this I have only known to turn out once. I’ve seen it over and over again and always want to point out the advice I’ve read from more than one source that say this.
I mention this because as soon as Grace mentions David’s marital state and the odd nature of their relationship I want to give her a good shake and ask her if she is mad.
She is love struck, flattered, and sadly naive. When a young woman Grace spent most of her life practicing her cello, and was betrayed by at least two guys as soon as she was out on her own. So, it’s not surprising really that she is woefully naive — ripe for the picking.
Perhaps, David really thinks his Modus Operandi is truly legit; but on some level he is a predatory adulterer. He takes so much of Grace’s youth — it is almost criminal.
It’s interesting that the story is compared to he main character in the book ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE because I thought so as well. The characters are similarly bright but damaged, though Eleanor is broken to a much greater degree than Grace (that book still haunts me). But, both are damaged and function on only a very narrow bandwidth.
I felt this was a coming-to-grips-with-difficult-truths. I think it could have been told more quickly and that parts of the story were overly dramatic even with booze involved. It’s the things and people that bring Grace back to life, friendship, the wisdom and hope of friends, though, that are the story’s real strengths. She finally realizes her naivete from her youth lead her to to her current state.
Grace, an elite musical talent, like an Olympic athlete, was on a narrow path from which there was no room to deviate and no back up position. I often think that no favor is done to the kids who practice so hard and who have lives of such narrow focus that when they fail they are often ill-equipped for real life. Grace, at least, somehow maintains a foothold in the world of music to restore and create amazing instruments. Ultimately she has to restore herself and in doing so, the Paris she has known with David will have to be let go.
The narration is perfectly suited to Grace and is appropriate for age and character. The male characters are well-voiced too. This is a great listen. It may be better as an audiobook.