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Paris for One and Other Stories

Review

Paris for One and Other Stories

“Paris for One” by Jojo Moyes is an utterly charming short story, reminiscent of the glory days when romantic comedies ruled the box office. The main character, Nell, was someone I could relate to:

“Nell’s mother, Lilian, was fond of telling anyone who would listen that Nell ‘was not the adventurous type.’ She was also ‘not the type to travel,’ ‘not the kind of girl who can rely on her looks,’ and now, occasionally, if her mother thought Nell was out of earshot, ‘no spring chicken.’

We pick up the book just as Nell is about to board a train for a romantic weekend in Paris. The only problem? Her boyfriend, Pete, is nowhere in sight and is unresponsive to her texts. While dear Nell continues to hold out hope that he’ll join her, the reader already knows by page three that he’s not worth the effort. (Pete, it must be said, reminded me a lot of Jasper from The Holiday.) So, Nell ends up in Paris quite by herself, unsure of what to do with this newfound adventure and no one to hold her hand through it.

"'Paris for One' by Jojo Moyes is an utterly charming short story, reminiscent of the glory days when romantic comedies ruled the box office."

One thing I really enjoyed about this book were the secondary characters, who were incredibly well-drawn, despite the short page count of the story. One such character is the Parisian receptionist who continually pushes Nell, in her own polished and polite French way, to do new things and enjoy all that Paris has to offer.

Meanwhile, Fabien (can we all take a minute to appreciate that Fabien is the name of the main love interest here?) is recovering from the wounds of a crushing break-up with a woman with whom he could seemingly do no right. Attempting to win her back when she has no desire to be won, Fabien embarks on a journey to better himself so he’ll be ready when she comes calling.

The fun of this book is that when Nell and Fabien meet, they are both trying to be different versions of themselves. But neither can keep from being better versions of themselves when they are with each other. Moyes does a brilliant job of weaving this story together with the appropriate amount of twists and turns and manages to eek out quite a robust story in only a few pages.

“Paris for One” is a quick but completely satisfying read for fans of Jojo Moyes, or frankly anyone who enjoys romantic comedies like The Holiday or Sleepless in Seattle. I read it in two hours, a smile on my face the entire time, and easily could have given it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

However, then we get to the “other stories.” I didn’t necessarily dislike any of them --- they were much too brief to feel any sort of strong emotion --- but they made the collection feel disjointed. With roughly two thirds of the book being “Paris for One,” that left only about one third to house eight tales: “Between the Tweets,” “Love in the Afternoon,” “A Bird in the Hand,” “Crocodile Shoes,” “Holdups,” “Last Year’s Coat,” “Thirteen Days with John C” and “The Christmas List.” While they are all separate stories, most seemed filled with slightly bitter housewives with not enough romantic attention or income --- not really a headspace I was ready for after the lovely sweetness of “Paris for One.”

Bottom line? If you’re a diehard Jojo Moyes fan and you must have her latest book on your bookshelf posthaste (and who could blame you?), pick up PARIS FOR ONE AND OTHER STORIES. In my opinion, though, it’s not worth buying it in hardcover. To get more bang for your buck, I’d recommend purchasing it in eBook format or waiting for the paperback to release.

Reviewed by Amy Haddock on October 21, 2016

Paris for One and Other Stories
by Jojo Moyes

  • Publication Date: October 18, 2016
  • Genres: Fiction, Romance, Short Stories
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
  • ISBN-10: 0735221073
  • ISBN-13: 9780735221079