Three best friends. A weekend away. And a whole lot of baggage.
Alice, Nina and Jules have been best friends for twenty years. They met in Paris and return there once a year, to relive their youth, leave the troubles of home behind, and indulge in each other’s friendship and warmth. But this year, aged thirty-nine, the cracks in their relationships are starting to show…
After their weekend together in Paris, the three women never speak again. Each claims the other two ghosted them. But is there more to the story?
Many thanks to the publisher and to the Squadpod for sending me a copy of the book ahead of the paperback release in exchange for an honest review.
I love books about female friendship – the complexity of it, the way that those relationships can be more important, more constant, and sometimes more dramatic, than the romantic relationships in our lives. I love it even more when the protagonists are the same age as me, and I’ll never pass up a vicarious trip to Paris, a city I’ve only been to twice, and each time only for 24 hours, but one which I love to read about.
The structure of After Paris is reminiscent of One Day, as we flit in and out of different Parisian visits throughout the years of Alice, Nina and Jules’ friendship. It’s very cleverly done, and it gradually builds up a complex picture of the three women’s lives, and their friendship dynamics. There’s a boy, of course, and he’s significant to their story, but it’s the women who are the focus.
What I admired most about this book is the way that it dives into so many big themes: motherhood, fertility struggles, addiction, infidelity, without falling into the traps of either becoming preachy or of skimming over the surface of these important issues. It feels like a deep, heartfelt exploration of the myriad challenges that so many people face, and yet there is also a lightness, brought into the novel by the humorous touches and, of course, the wonderful backdrop of Paris. Nicole Kennedy describes the city beautifully – its sights, smells, and above all, its tastes – if you manage to get through this book without craving a delicately flavoured almond pastry or an air-light macaron, then I’m sorry but I don’t think we can be friends.
I have to say, I enjoyed this book even more than I expected to – I genuinely came to care deeply about the characters, and was left with that lovely feeling that their lives would go on without me as I turned the last page. That’s when you know the writer has done an amazing job. I think this novel is the perfect spring read, and I highly recommend you get hold of a copy, along with a patisserie treat or two!
After Paris by Nicole Kennedy is published by Head of Zeus and is available to purchase here.