First Pages: Anna and the French Kiss
If you’ve read Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss then you know why I posted the featured photo of Little Lion and me in front of the Pantheon in Paris. The thing is, I first read Perkins’ trilogy out of order: Isla and the Happily Ever After, then Anna, then Lola and the Boy Next Door. So I sort of already knew Anna and Etienne St. Clair’s story. And I sort of favored Isla and Josh’s story more.
However, immediately after our trip to Paris, I re-read the first two books and it re-solidified my newfound love for the City of Light. You see, I wrote earlier this summer how I wasn’t that excited to go to Paris because it was just an okay place to visit in the past. But this summer, the Bookworm family and I had more time to explore on our own and we found all the little pockets of quaintness and beauty that is Paris in a nutshell. Coupled with the fact that we had such delicious food and that we stayed in the lovely Latin Quarter, and I was (am) a goner.
Truth be told, I had forgotten that Anna and the French Kiss was set in the Latin Quarter. So re-reading the novel had me longing to get back on a plane!
The photo in front of the Pantheon was taken on our last night in Paris. We wandered around to find a place to eat and ended up in a bar just a short block away from the Pantheon. The bar had the most lovely waitstaff and to-die-for desserts. My MIL tried bone marrow while the rest of us were less adventurous. And, yes, the food was divine, and a bit more upscale than a ‘bar’ in the U.S. would have.
We wandered back through the Latin Quarter on the way back to our hotel and took the roundabout way. (Not really lost because everything can be mapped out on our phones.) And this is how we found several restaurant rows and bars and even several boba places! Plus we found more pixelated Space Invaders mosaics to add to our photo collection.
It left (most of us) wanting for more. But that’s how you know you’ve had a good trip—you don’t want to leave.
Little Lion was tired, though, and Mr. Bookworm had to carry her for part of the way home.
Back to Anna and the French Kiss: Perkins starts off with Anna talking about the stereotypical things that she knows about Paris, a city she is about to make her own as she is starting off her first year at a boarding school in Paris’ Latin Quarter. It’s admittedly one of the slower starts in our First Pages series, unless you have a specific interest in France.
After a long-winded first paragraph, Perkins gets to the clincher: Anna does not want to go to boarding school in Paris. And now we know the reasons why Perkins started off the way she did. The plot thickens and now I’m interested.
However, I will re-iterate that even though the first book is a lovely fluffy YA read and a lovely jaunt through Paris, I prefer the second book, Isla and the Happily Ever After, which starts off in a more intriguing manner: Isla running into her crush in their home town of Manhattan. Oh, and she’s high as a kite on pain meds after having her wisdom teeth pulled out. And it may or may not be just the second time she’s ever spoken to Josh. Add in her quirky best friend, who happens to have high functioning autism, and add in the fact that Josh is an artist, and it makes for a more interesting read.
I can understand Anna’s worry. Although I’m obsessed with the idea of boarding schools in literature (Hogwarts, anyone?), I don’t think I would have wanted to go to one as a teen. Or send my girls to one. There are a few alumni families at their school that have kids at boarding school but I honestly can’t imagine being apart from my kids at such a young age.
But dreaming of going to one? Yes, sign me up. Reading about boarding school and all the hijinks that can follow, especially at a young age is a lot more fun, especially if it involves wizardry. Or Paris. Stephanie Perkins’ trilogy is a fantastic light summer (or cold California winter) read, perfect books to travel with.
Do the first pages fully entice a reader? Maybe only a certain type of reader. I can’t imagine Mini Me picking it up without rolling her eyes (Note: I wouldn’t have her read it as there are older teen themes.) but she is also solidly a Sci-Fi/Fantasy fan. If it’s a rom-com, forget it. Much more so if it’s a serious YA romance. But, to each their own, and I’m pretty much an equal opportunity reader these days. Plus, you can’t write YA if you don’t read YA, right?
All in all, I was intrigued enough to read the entire trilogy a few years ago, and to re-read the first two books just after our Europe trip last summer.
Side note: You may have noticed that I’ve posted the pages as excerpts from my phone. That’s because I re-read this trilogy from the Cloud Library. My local library enables me to borrow e-books and Cloud Library has quite a number of books that are available to borrow. Check it out!
I started the First Lines and First Pages series in November 2017 as a homage to National Novel Writing Month. In the tradition of one of my previous writing groups, I decided to 'share' the first lines of successful middle grade and YA novels in order to figure out what made them successful first pages. I posted as many as I could in November, and now post the series on the first of every month (or close to it). Please let me know in the comment section if you have any First Pages recommendations.