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Review: French Lessons

September 27, 2011

Three Americans in Paris, for three very different reasons, each hire a private French tutor on the same day.  The relationship between the three tutors is complicated, but they each give their student their undivided attention for the day.  The students are:

  • Josie – a high school French teacher mourning the death of her lover
  • Riley – an ex-pat housewife and mother, living in Paris, trying to figure out a way to make her adopted country feel like home
  • Jeremy – the husband of a famous movie star who is in town while his wife shoots a movie

The three spend their days differently but end it the same way, each a little wiser.

I was really excited to listen to French Lessons, by Ellen Sussman (after all it takes place in Paris) but it didn’t quite live up to my expectations.  I liked it well enough, I just didn’t love it the way I hoped to.

Each student’s story is told separately and it seemed they ended at about the time I started to get attached to the characters.  Told in the third person present tense, I felt a little removed from the story for some reason, so I never really connected with any of them, like I hoped to.  The tutors each had their own story which were interesting, too, but they were secondary to the students’ stories.

I think my biggest problem with French Lessons was that I really wasn’t sure what the purpose of the story was as I finished the book.  That might just be me, though.   I know it sounds like I didn’t enjoy the book at all, but that’s not the case.  I did enjoy it, I just didn’t love it like I thought I would.  The Paris setting is wonderful and the book is a quick read, so it’s one to pick up if you need a foreign escape.  I listened to the audio version which is read by Kathe Mazure, and she does an outstanding job.  Her French accent is impeccable!

Review copy provided by Random House.  I am an Indiebound Affliate.
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21 Comments leave one →
  1. September 23, 2011 9:36 pm

    I picked this one up at Border’s for cheap :) I’m looking forward to it.

  2. September 27, 2011 6:39 am

    I have trouble enjoying a book, if i’m not attached to the characters. This one sounds like it could have been a bit longer.

  3. September 27, 2011 7:45 am

    Interesting. I too have had that experience of not quite knowing what the purpose was. I’m glad to know that the narration was well done — maybe I’ll give it a try just to hear the accent!

  4. September 27, 2011 8:55 am

    Hmmmm. Do you think I’d enjoy this more in print?

  5. September 27, 2011 8:56 am

    Maybe if the stories had intertwined more (maybe using one teacher?) there would have been more to go on? Sorry this wasn’t a big hit, but it does sound like a nice, light read.

  6. September 27, 2011 9:37 am

    This has been on my booklist since the beginning of summer. I have such a soft spot for books set in France.

  7. September 27, 2011 10:23 am

    This is on my tbr list, thanks! for your review of it.

  8. September 27, 2011 10:48 am

    I have seen some mixed reviews on this one. It’s hard to love a book if you don’t connect to the characters. I’m glad you enjoyed it enough though even though you didn’t have that connection.

  9. September 27, 2011 11:06 am

    I seen this book on another site earlier this past week and thought of you. I am glad to see you read it, bummed it wasn’t a better read. I do like your thoughts about the audio though… I do love good audio!

  10. September 27, 2011 3:22 pm

    I’m with you, Bermuda. I wasn’t sure about this one either. After reading your thoughts, I think I’ll pass on it.

  11. September 27, 2011 3:29 pm

    I’m very intrigued by this one, and it sounds like it would be a good listen! A paperback copy is calling my name, though — hope I get to read it soon.

  12. September 27, 2011 3:32 pm

    Interesting but can see why you’re disappointed. that stinks! Thanks for the review :)

  13. September 27, 2011 3:33 pm

    Sorry this didn’t work as well for you as you had hoped.

  14. September 27, 2011 4:02 pm

    I appreciate your honest feelings about this book.

  15. Staci permalink
    September 27, 2011 8:03 pm

    It’s too bad that you didn’t feel a connection to any of the characters but you still liked it so it wasn’t a horrible read in the end. I wonder if I would’ve loved this book on audio? I read it and adored it big time.

  16. September 27, 2011 11:04 pm

    Kathy, you and I are very much alike. I hate it when I finish a book and still have no idea what the purpose of it is. I think authors should have something authentic that drives them to write a book. I hope your next read is much better.

  17. September 28, 2011 3:24 pm

    Sorry it wasn’t all you hoped it would be.

  18. September 29, 2011 8:31 pm

    I often find that my expectations of a book aren’t met. Doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy the book just that I enjoyed it differently than I was thinking I would.

  19. September 30, 2011 12:23 pm

    Books that create too much distance between me and the character bug me, I think I would not appreciate this one. Good review!

  20. September 30, 2011 12:49 pm

    I felt about the same as you for the audio of this book. I think it needed more closure, maybe? I’m not sure. But I’m still wavering between liking it and feeling meh about it.

  21. October 3, 2011 8:34 pm

    Not certain if this one would be for me.

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