Anna was looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. So she's less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris-until she meets Etienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Etienne has it all . . . including a serious girlfriend. But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss? Stephanie Perkins keeps the romantic tension crackling and the attraction high in a debut guaranteed to make toes tingle and hearts melt.
I must say that I spent awhile feeling a bit unenthusiastic. I had a case of 'judging the book by it's cover and title,' but that was insanely wrong of me. For some reason I believed it may be one of those highly cliched works of growing cheese, but I take my hat off to this novel. Bravo, Mrs. Perkins, because Anna and The French Kiss has my heart fluttering!
I was drawn in by Anna, who has been forced by her parents (I wish my parents would have forced me) to go to the School of America in Paris, France. There she meets some awesome new friends, including the beautiful Etienne St. Clair who becomes her fascination and best friend. I fell in love with Anna because she is humorous and filled with the right amount of teenage angst. She's in love with classic films, and I thought this added a wonderful layer to her character, and a great deal of wonderful passages about popping in to various cinemas around Paris. This novel also chronicles Anna's growth as a person, with being away from home for the first time, the ups and downs of language/custom barriers, and how to deal with falling in love for the first time.
Etienne. What more can I possibly say about him that hasn't already been said? The accent, the disheveled hair, the frustration, the honorable intentions... what is not to love, really? Honestly, I enjoyed experiencing him, and his interactions with Anna and their friends. Unlike a lot of romances that cram in loads of cheesy scenes and rushed sentiments, Etienne and Anna's romance grows over the course of the novel. They are drawn to each other from the very beginning, but to watch as they grow to become best friends, and perhaps more, was very satisfying. Etienne is such a regular guy, and he is a departure from the idealistic stereotype that we may think of British guys (though he has all of that great stuff as well!). He's honest, loyal, flirtatious, imperfect, and very sincere. He's very intelligent, and enamored by History. But he also has a quite heavy sub-story with his family that gives this novel great depth. I'll admit that the back and forth of their romance frustrated me at times, but it was nevertheless realistically portrayed. I could relate to their trials.
I also had loads of fun with Perkins' cast of supporting characters, Meredith and Rashmi being my favorites. Meredith seems so cool, nice, artistic, and Rashmi is a great friend, yet hilarious in terms of her discomfort with showing her emotions.
Perkins' awesome talent, aside from great characterization, is bringing Paris to life. If you haven't gone abroad, it will inspire you to jump out there and get on the plane. I loved every passage detailing Paris at spring time, the wonderful school lunches (which put our cardboard pizzas to shame), pastries, impromptu trips to Notre Dame, the legendary Shakespeare and Co., Creperies, etc. Paris is truly one of the cities of dreams, and Perkins' brings it to life brilliantly through Anna.
Anna and The French Kiss grabbed my heart and tugged so hard I couldn't resist. I loved the romance, the humor, the scenery, the tension, and the sincerity brimming through it. It's a romance, but its more than that. It's the story of a girl who discovers herself and what home is in Paris. This writer is not to miss, and as soon as I'm through I'm off to read Lola and The Boy Next Door! I'm also looking forward to Isla and The Happily Ever After!
I give Anna and The French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins 5 out of 5 cups of chocolat chaud.