Having lost her mother, seventeen year old Lola has been living with her grandmother, slowly slipping away from the person she was. Sent to stay with her father in Paris, she is determined to go back to her life in London. She can’t believe how quickly her father got over his grief. He has remarried and Lola hates her stepmother. Agatha has ruined everything and Lola needs to find a way to make her dad see it.
I can’t help but wonder sometimes if who I am now – if everything I am and say and wear – is in defiance of him.
Lola’s narrative is written for Holly, addressing the reader as if we were her. Lola clearly feels guilty for something and is writing to this girl who appears absent from the story. Lola takes her time, setting out the sequence of events that led to her wrong-doing.
And as the story progresses, you see that Lola isn’t always truthful with herself. She is acting out on her grief, getting into trouble and getting behind on schoolwork. As an outsider looking in, you can see that her father cares and is doing the best he can for her, but she is angry and sad and lonely, and her stepmother’s presence makes her feel she can’t communicate honestly with him anymore.
That’s what I was trying to say earlier about love being fallible. It’s brittle. Breakable. But hate, hate is a flame that never goes out.
I imagine this was a very personal book for Tanya, who lost her mother last year. Lola’s grief is woven throughout every page, her every action. She may not be the most likable of characters but you cannot fail to have sympathy for her. She doesn’t react in the manner we would want but it’s completely believable considering her circumstances.
I found it quite a slow book, which may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it certainly is emotional in a quiet way. Following Tanya’s other books, I thought it would be more dramatic, but it’s more of a domestic drama unfolding against the backdrop of Paris.
I did like the fact that sometimes people spoke in French and it wasn’t translated. If you don’t speak a word of French, it doesn’t really matter, you can get the gist through context. It’s so much more preferable than the awkward repetition a lot of writers do when they want to indicate someone’s speaking in a different language. Of course, if it bothers you, you can always Google translate it.
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Book Source: Purchased