*Warning – spoilers!*
If I go against every advice I’ve ever been told and judge this book by its cover, then A Week in Paris by Rachel Hore is exactly the kind of book that I am instinctively drawn to. In fact, Andrew says I always pick out any books that have the title in italics on the spine. How predictable. But it’s true, I do love a family mystery, particularly if it involves jumping through time and uncovering something that has happened in the past. Tick, tick and tick from Rachel Hore’s offering. So was it any good?
The book focuses around the present day story of Fay and her trip to Paris to play violin with an orchestra for a week. She leaves behind her troubled Mother, Kitty, in a hospital in England. Just before she leaves, Kitty implores her to investigate her past in Paris and directs her to a backpack hidden in a trunk in her bedroom as a starting point. Fay dutifully follows her instructions and comes up with an address to visit.
Once in Paris, Fay starts to get flashbacks of the kind that indicate she used to live there. Weird, because her Mum told her they grew up in the UK. As Fay digs deeper into the address her Mother gave her she comes across Madame Ramond – an older French lady who claims to have known Kitty when she was younger. Over the rest of the week, Madame Ramond recounts the story of Kitty’s life in Paris with her husband, Gene, Fay’s Father. The plot plays out much as you would expect: Fay was born in Paris and did indeed grow up there. She lived a happy life as a toddler until war broke out, the country was occupied by Nazis and her and her Mother missed their chance to escape. As the story develops, we discover that Gene was shot dead by a Nazi Officer for harbouring people that the Germans wanted to kill – the ‘twist’ in the tale (if you can call it that) is that Fay, as a baby, directed the German Officer to where her Father was hidden. A fact that is continually hidden from Fay by both her Mother and Madame Ramond.
The plot back in the early 1940s is woven in with modern day Fay, who is dating a guy she met in Paris on a school trip as a youngster. The set up and relationship are unfortunately not terribly believable and the relationship blossoms apparently out of nowhere. Not only that, but Adam, the love interest, is pretty unreliable and a little bit shady. All because he is helping someone he maybe shouldn’t be. Big wow.
What Did I Think?
I was quite looking forward to reading this book – as I said before, it had all the hallmarks of a Jennifer favourite – but it just didn’t hit the mark. The character development was not at all well nuanced, there was no real sense of emotion evoked within me by any of the relationships in the book and it all felt a bit forced to fit with the circumstances. It read like more time was spent on the setting up and logistics of the story than the telling of it.
Not sure whether I’ll be trying another one of Rachel Hore’s books – has anyone else read another and would recommend it or are they more of the same?
Onwards and upwards – Room by Emma Donoghue is my current reading jam.