I am off to purchase the book--along with a pain of chocolat. Does she finally develop a style? Speaking of lessons learned, it is astonishing at just how little Kate does learn about herself and about others. I had no idea what to expect: Kate wants to experience life after graduation from Yale. Although the book is set in Paris, hardly any of the characters are actually French. It was just before the internet, before cell phones. Along the way, you will be taken on an appetizing tour through the Parisian streets, cafes, museums and shops. With insight from my own youthful experience in Paris, I draw a portrait of a precocious, ambitious young woman struggling to define herself in a vibrant world that spirals out of her control.
I was just so frustrated with Kate by the end of the book I just wanted to reach in and smack her a couple of times. Would you agree with her assessment, and do you think it is true of her personal interactions? In some ways, Clarence and. Amidst the glamorous, famous and pretentious circle that she now finds herself a part of Kate tries to fit in. The characters fall flat, the various love triangles are boring and feel forced, and all the resolutions at the end of the novel feel too clean-cut. For her first novel, Hilary Reyl, like her main character Kate, needs to find her style and her voice. I got so caught up in the story, I almost believed I was young, living in a Parisian garret, and fluent in French. I feel a book is well written when you have strong emotions for the characters.
Stick to that truth, all the while giving yourself complete freedom of imagination with the story and the characters. . What is your advice for aspiring writers? It is, in many senses, a classic coming of age story, but with a distinctly Parisian twist. All content is original and cannot be copied without permission. Un don, so to speak, voilà.
As a woman who came of age in the same time period, I identified fully with the protagonist Kate who is more assured of her youth and promise than of her own merits and position as an artist in a community that cherishes images and intellect. This is your debut novel so do you have plans for another? Not only will she be living with the Schell family, meeting their famous circle of friends, but she will have the opportunity to work on improving her art in a city that caters to untried artists around the globe. And yet, because I am not French, I show almost no signs of belonging to any group or class. But Lydia is a complicated boss, demanding total allegiance, not unlike the Anne Winokur character in The Devil Wears Prada. I did, however, have a sense of disappointment with the ending but then that was personal to me.
She graduated from Yale and moved to Paris in 1989, but the parallels end there. Lessons in French is not only an impossibly romantic and sensual delight, but its characters--witty and surprisingly poignant--stayed with me long after I savored the final page. If you have ever dreamed of living abroad in Paris after graduation, this novel is the next best thing. This book is rich--the imagery, the smoothness of Hilary's words do better than set the scene. At times I just wished Kate would get out of that house and take an art class, or meet someone with a drop of altruism to refresh our mental palettes.
And I will probably like it, no matter how badly written it is. Does it frustrate you that Kate wants so badly to fit into the Schell family, or do you empathize with her emotionally despite her questionable choices? The lead character, Katie, isn't just coming of age. He lost his battle two years later, and Kate's feelings of being cheated out of being with her father during his final days and her desire to do something that would make him proud are part of the baggage she carries. Like her heroine, Hilary Reyl spent considerable time in the City of Light, and one has the feeling that the book is a labor of love for the author, a way of paying homage to what she herself gained and lost in Paris, and to immortalize that experience in story. The author, Hilary Reyl, penned a fantastic book with the backdrop Paris and a recent graduate of Yale, Katie.
The book is a quick read. It's moving and beautiful, a very emotional read. I don't know if this disconnection was down to the lack of detail and jumpy style of writing but I really felt nothing for the characters - I just found myself not caring either way. Lydia frequently entertains the international crème de la crème — Salman Rushdie, Umberto Eco. Do you believe at the end that Lydia and Clarence are ultimately solid despite it all? Kate may speak fluent French, but she arrives at the Schell household in the fashionable Sixth Arrondissement both overwhelmed and naïve. It weaves a complex tale of memory, pleasure and survival.
It was a heady and unnerving time, both in European history and in the life of my heroine. I loved this book and couldn't put it down mostly because of the colorful, sensuous world Hilary Reyl captured for her readers. And who is Lydia entangled with? Savor it with crÃ¨me-filled croissants and peach kir, and prepare to be transported. Lessons in French is at once a love letter to Paris and the story of a young woman finding herself, her moral compass, and, finally, her true family. The author pulls all that off beautifully, with great writing and strong characterization.