06 Oct A Perfect Paris Christmas by Mandy Baggot
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
It may just be October, but Christmas books are coming in thick and fast, and I’ve just finished reading my first one, a romantic story that takes us to the streets of Paris at Christmas-time. But a Perfect Paris Christmas is more than just a love story. It’s a funny, sad, thought-provoking book that takes its readers through a roller-coaster of emotions before you can say Joyeux Noel!
Heroine Keeley Andrews has seen her share of tragedy. Eighteen months previously, she’d been in a car accident that claimed the life of her beloved younger sister Bea. Keeley herself would have died but for the gift of a donor kidney. Since then, her life has been on hold. She’s stuck in a dead-end job, living at home with an understandably over-anxious mother, and unable to date any man without blurting out her health condition in too much gory detail.
Then an invitation arrives from Sylvie Durand, mother of Keeley’s kidney donor, Ferne – she wants to meet the girl her daughter saved. And so, with the reluctant blessing of her mother, and in the company of her best friend Rach, Keeley heads off to Paris to stay at one of the Durand family’s swanky Perfect Paris chain of hotels.
Meanwhile, in another Perfect Paris hotel, joint owner Ethan Bouchard is still bemoaning the loss of his closest friend and business partner Ferne. When he and Keeley meet, neither is aware of their common bond. When they finally find out, will it quench the romantic spark between them?
This is a story to enjoy on so many levels, not least for its cast of wonderful characters. Keeley is bright, funny and vulnerable, and her friend Rach, brash and bold but with a heart of gold, is the perfect foil for her. There’s Keeley’s mum Lizzie, Ferne’s mum Sylvie, and the memory of a delightful Ferne herself. Add in Erica, a sparky young girl spending her last days in a hospice, but determined to live life vicariously through Keeley’s eyes, and Jeanne, a Parisian street urchin who wins the hearts of Ethan and Keeley, and a feast of emotional story strands are brought together, enough to keep you turning the pages even without the main attraction of Keeley and Ethan’s love story.
Even the most minor characters have something to add in the way of witty dialogue and funny anecdotes – you’ll find yourself laughing out loud at some of their antics.
As we follow Keeley and Ethan’s story, the streets of Paris are brought to life as surely as the Juliet balconies are lit with fairy lights! From the majesty of the Eiffel tower to the splendour of the Arc de Triomphe to the bustle of the famous flea markets and the narrow back streets housing authentic French cafes and bars, Paris is aglow with a festive feel-good factor.
I like the way author Mandy Baggot has married the emotional with the romantic into the narrative, exploring themes of love and loss, of family, of motherhood and sisterhood and friendship. She doesn’t shy away from the tragedies that have taken place in the loss of Bea and Ferne, the tragedy that is waiting to happen with Erica and the fact that even Keeley’s future could be uncertain. Instead she uses all these things to convince not just Keeley but her readers that you should live life in the moment, grasp opportunities with both hands and be grateful for the gift of life and all it brings you.
A positive, uplifting and romantic read.
A Perfect Paris Christmas by Mandy Baggot is published by Aria in paperback, RRP £8.99. Also available as an ebook.
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