Anna and the French Kiss

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

When I had checked out Anna and the French Kiss from the library, I turned to a friend and made some literary joke. She had stared at me blankly, so I explained. As they say, jokes are never funny when they’re explained.

Anecdote aside, Anna and the French Kiss  is the debut novel by Stephanie Perkins. Published in 2010, I still can find many book blogs that recently reviewed it and loved it, speaking volumes about the novel’s popularity.

The novel chronicles the adventures of Anna, a girl from Atlanta, who’s forced to attend a boarding school in Paris, at the request of her novelist father. Anna, of course, refuses to attend the school in Paris since it’s her senior year. When Anna arrives in Paris, she makes many new friends, including Etienne St. Clair, who becomes her best friend. As the synopsis of the novel states, “Will a year of romantic near misses end with the French kiss she’s waiting for?”

The novel, of course is a romance novel, and the ending is obvious. The novel’s name is “Anna and the French Kiss”, not “Anna and the No Kiss.” The author isn’t going to write a novel and not have the titular character not end up with The French Guy. The basic plot is pretty formulaic too, with the female main character moving to a new place, becoming attracted to a cute guy, experiencing hardships through the pursuit of that guy, and finally ending up with said guy.

However, the author surpasses the predicable plot to create a wonderful story. Readers will find that Etienne and Anna are both very lovable characters. The voice that Perkins created for Anna is humorous, a tad sarcastic and spot on, capturing the very mindset of 17-year-olds in love. The novel begins with:

                “Here is everything I know about France: Madeline [reference to the famous children's picture books] and Moulin Rouge. The Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, although I have no idea what the function of either actually is. Napoleon, Marie Antoinette, and a lot of kings name Louis. I’m not sure what they did either, but I think it was something to do with the French Revolution, which has something to do with Bastille Day.”
The writing is told in a stream-of-consciousness sort of way, with Anna narrating and the reader privy to all her thoughts. While I did like Anna’s voice, I found that at times, it was hard to believe that she was a high school senior and not a high school sophomore. In the novel, she references things that she doesn’t know and all I could do was think, “Why don’t you know this Anna?”

Overall however, Anna and the French Kiss was a quick and enjoyable read (I finished it in one sitting) and I’m eager to read more of Perkin’s work.

On a semi-related note, every time I use this lotion, I'm reminded of the book:

Paris Amour Bath & BodyWorks Lotion

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