My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Expected Publication: October 30th.
Yeesh… okay. This review is a little challenging for me to write to be honest. Not my favorite book, unfortunately. While I thought the concept was intriguing, I thought the execution missed the mark.
It’s difficult to even say what this book is about. I guess the overarching story is that of Linden and his family coming to Paris for a family vacation only to find themselves in the middle of a record-breaking flood that wreaks havoc on the city. Meanwhile, there are all these little micro-stories that pop up along the way and tell of the family history and dynamic. And to top it off, there is a slightly random parallel story set in the past about a random character named Suzanne which seems entirely unrelated to the major story line (but eventually ties in).
While I enjoyed all the characters and their back stories on an individual level, the story for me really lacked that cohesiveness that brings everything together. Linden has this relationship with his Aunt and we learn a little bit about her life… only to be left hanging. Linden’s mom, Lauren, has this past relationship with a man that we get a glimpse into… only to be left hanging. Linden’s dad has a slightly dark past that gets minimally revealed… only to be left hanging. Linden’s sister has a drunk husband and was the lone survivor of a tragic car accident…. which gets left hanging. You get the theme here. Frankly, it was kind of bizarre. Maybe I just didn’t get it? *insert shoulder shrug here*
The first 80% of the book felt like back story and there was a point where I found myself pretty bored. There was no real “hook” that drew me in or kept me wanting more. But the last 10 – 15% turned around for me. I just wish the latter portion of the book had a larger presence. Because as soon as it started getting good, it ended. And the ending was not very palatable. It felt very unresolved. Like the writer just stopped writing…
Also, I felt like I needed a map of Paris while I read this book to have a good grasp on what was happening. There are lots of references to geographical locations within Paris, boroughs and bridges and landmarks and streets. I had a hard time following. That being said, if you are looking for a book that has a very Parisian feel, this is it. I could definitely feel the French atmosphere and culture resonating through the pages.
Finally, the sentence structure and writing style just weren’t for me. It didn’t feel natural or conversational. The sentences tended to be very short and choppy. And the way in which some sentences were phrased didn’t thrill me. It seemed like the author used a lot of big words for the sake of using big words that didn’t add clarity, and for me, made the book more difficult to read.
All of that being said, there were glimmers of success sprinkled throughout (the only reason I’m giving this book 3 stars rather than 2). Each of the individual mirco-stories were interesting on an individual level. I enjoyed learning about the family and their history. The Parisian undertones shined through. And honestly, the last 15% of the book I would consider a success. I just wish it had all worked together a little bit more as a cohesive unit.
-I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Tatiana de Rosnay, and St. Martin’s Press (still my faves!) for the opportunity to review-