Paris is always a good idea. Doesn't matter if you're in love or not. If you are unhappy or not in love, Paris can even be a very good idea.
That's what Robert Sherman's mom had told him. She loved Paris. And when Robert was twelve, she gifted him a trip to the city that stole her heart. But now, years later, after the death of his mother, he cursed the sentimental impulse to come to Paris.
The room he had booked overlooking the courtyard was a big disappointment. As if the claustrophobia of the tiny room wasn't enough, the shutters also opened out to a grey stone wall. A stranger in a foreign country. You'd think his first impression of Paris would be romantic, not jaded and regretful. One certainly doesn't get the sense that George Gershwin's lyrics (from An American In Paris of course) are ringing in the air as Robert steps into a pile of dog poop.
Then, there's Rosalie, a hopeless romantic. She owns a little postcard shop on the rue du Dragon, a pretty little street of medieval houses in the heart of Saint-Germaine (located in the now tony 6th arrondissement) where Victor Hugo had also supposedly lived at one time. Rosalie loves her rituals: rituals like writing a diary to record the best and worst moments of the day; rituals like listening to the same CDs as she draws in the evenings; rituals, she thinks, are what gave a person stability, and rituals are something to look forward to.
She used to wish that one day she'd meet the man of her dreams. This would be "the one" who would one evening take her to Le Jules Verne -- the restaurant at the top of the Eiffel Tower with one with the most spectacular views of Paris -- and propose.
The wish remained unfulfilled. Instead, she met René, who would rather take her through a trekking tour of Kilimanjaro than to an expensive (in his view, a totally superfluous) restaurant at the top of the Eiffel Tower.
The Best Part Of Rosalie's Life: A famous children's book writer visits her store and changes her life.Max Marchais has a proposition for Rosalie. He wants her to illustrate his next book. It's an enchanting story of a blue tiger.
Regardless of what Nicholas Barreau wants us to believe, Paris indeed is always a good idea. The sights, the sounds, and the magic, draw you in. The novel is delightful in the same way you'd feel delighted walking through the buzzing Champs Elysees on a warm summer evening or how the senses are alit when walking by a patisserie on a brisk spring morning.
For me, this book felt personal. Having just visited the beautiful city less than a year ago, it was indeed a delightful walk down memory lane. You simply cannot go wrong with a love story set in Paris and Nicholas Barreau has the talent that has put other writers like Joanne Harris on the map with books turned into movies, like Chocolat. This is not a novel that is out to win the Giller Prize, but it does hold its own in the hearts of hopeless romantics who are in search of a story, a mystery and satisfying read.
Paris Is Always A Good Idea is published by St. Martins Press/Griffin and distributed in Canada by Raincoast Books. The book releases March 2016.