Friday, October 21, 2016

Paris for One and Other Stories

Title:  Paris for One and Other Stories
Author:  Jojo Moyes
Publication Information:  Pamela Dorman Books. 2016. 288 pages.
ISBN:  0735221073 / 978-0735221079

Book Source:  I received this book as a publisher's galley through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "Nell shifts her bag along the plastic seating in the station and checks the clock on the wall for the eighty-ninth time."

Favorite Quote:  "You are whoever you choose to be."

Sometimes, you just need a sweet, feel good book. A book that is like climbing into your favorite pajamas under your coziest blanket with a lovely cup of tea. This collection of stories is just that, with a novella - the approximately ninety page story Paris for One - followed by short stories all about women, relationships, and choices.

Paris for One is about Nell Simmons, a young woman who has always lived by the rules and planned her life. She is the stable one, the reliable one. She knows it, and until now, has been happy with that. Now though, it seems not to work. So, she decides to do something completely out of character and impulsive. She surprises her boyfriend with a weekend trip to Paris. The only problem is that he doesn't show, and she ends up in Paris all alone. What is a timid, careful planner to do with a weekend in Paris? Run home? Re-plan? Or for once in her life, just be and see what happens?

Even in a such a short span, Nell becomes real. Her magical Paris weekend sprinkles that magic out into the world as well. I find myself laughing and crying with her. The characters around her also charm; my personal favorite character is the concierge at the hotel, who doesn't say much but still plays an instrumental role in the story. In some ways, that concierge could be this reader cheering Nell on because I know the choices I want Nell to make. I know where the story is going and I know how it's going to end. It doesn't matter, because it is such a charming and lovely journey getting there.

Paris for One was originally published as a "Quick Read" through the UK Reading Agency. The Reading Agency is a "charity whose mission is to inspire more people to read more, encourage them to share their enjoyment of reading and celebrate the difference that reading makes to all our lives. We support people at all stages of their reading journey. Because everything changes when we read." Quick Reads are just that - short, quickly read but complete stories to encourage readers. I really enjoyed the story itself, but knowing this purpose behind it doubles my enjoyment - a feel good story both in content and purpose.

The rest of the stories included in this book are considerably shorter than Paris for One, but most make a point about relationships - the importance of honesty, the key to keeping the romance alive when the details of life take over, the thoughts of the roads not taken, the path when life doesn't go according to plan, and love found in the unlikeliest of places. All are about the choices women makes in their lives and the strength they find. One story stands apart for it is not about relationships. The Crocodile Shoes is about a woman finding her confidence and her voice; is it the shoes or is the self-care they represent? Ultimately, this story too is about a woman finding and recognizing her strength.

Look at the deeper message, or enjoy the sweet, feel-good stories at face value. Either way, this book delights and charms.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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