French Lessons was written by Ellen Sussman, the author of another heartfelt and deeply moving novel I really enjoyed, The Paradise Guest House. So, I expected exactly what I received here: characters who emotionally weigh serious life choices against the backdrop of a fun and beautiful city, Paris!
This was a book told in three short stories, and although I don’t normally like short stories, this worked extremely well and was a good read for a Friday evening sitting out on my patio. Each tale was pretty lengthy, at 50-100 pages, and fully examined the love lives of three people who individually hired a french tutor to lead them through Paris. The true beauty of this book was the format which asked, who’s teaching who. The tutors were actually teaching french to the students, but French was hardly what was learned here. Instead, love was the lesson, and at various points in the story, each person taught another something about it. The beauty of the city was an excellent backdrop, with its charming streets prompting the characters to reveal what was bothering them in their lives. My favorite character was Josie, whose tragic love story unfolded as moved closer to making a life altering decision. Every character was portrayed in a way that made it easy to relate to their love issues. Even though the people in these stories wrestle with daunting events, the novels are surprisingly uplifting due to the characters’ hopeful outlook.
I am a big fan of this author and really enjoy her passionate and emotional characters. This was a hugely satisfying read.