*I received a free copy of I'll See You in Paris from St. Martin's Press via Netgalley. This has in no way influenced my voluntary review, which is honest and unbiased *I'll See You in Paris by Michelle Gable
Published by St. Martin's Press on 9 February 2016
After losing her fiancé in the Vietnam War, nineteen-year-old Laurel Haley takes a job in England, hoping the distance will mend her shattered heart. Laurel expects the pain might lessen but does not foresee the beguiling man she meets or that they’ll go to Paris, where the city’s magic will take over and alter everything Laurel believes about love.
Thirty years later, Laurel’s daughter Annie is newly engaged and an old question resurfaces: who is Annie’s father and what happened to him? Laurel has always been vague about the details and Annie’s told herself it doesn’t matter. But with her impending marriage, Annie has to know everything. Why won’t Laurel tell her the truth?
The key to unlocking Laurel’s secrets starts with a mysterious book about an infamous woman known as the Duchess of Marlborough. Annie’s quest to understand the Duchess, and therefore her own history, takes her from a charming hamlet in the English countryside, to a decaying estate kept behind barbed wire, and ultimately to Paris where answers will be found at last.
I’ll See You in Paris intrigued me and made me curious, but it fell a little flat in the end.
When I read the summary for I’ll See You in Paris, I thought I would get a pretty solid mystery, spanning over three decades, and jumping between the present and the past. There was a mystery, but it wasn’t all that mysterious, and while I enjoyed the beginning, the story dragged on, and I felt like both Annie and Laurel were doing their best to not share what they were up to. And that just didn’t work for me – this daughter and mother were supposed to be very close, however, Laurel had kept something very important a secret from Annie all her life.
Because most of the story unfolded in a small town in England, I expected to feel like I went traveling with the protagonists of I’ll See You In Paris. That didn’t really happen, though, as the action happened either inside an inn, or in an old house. And there were very few characters to make the story move forward. I almost skipped to the very end to see if I was right about things, but I still managed to read the story in the right order.
There really was nothing special about I’ll See You in Paris. I wasn’t transported anywhere with the characters, and even Paris wasn’t a big part of the story. Switching between the past and the present, one of the characters told Annie the past story and shared some of the mystery with her. Written in third person point of view, past tense, and with lots of dialogues, the writing itself was good – it was the pace and the characters that made it difficult for me to feel invested.
But despite these things going for her, going for them, there remained a hole, a slow leak of something Annie couldn’t quite explain.
“Annie, every story has a pace,” Gus said. “Including Mrs. Spencer’s, and Win’s. I can’t just vomit it all up in one go. As a devotee of literature, you should know this implicitly.”