I have finished the 149th book for the book challenge. It was Lessons In French by Hilary Reyl.
Katherine (Katie) is a twenty-two year old American girl who goes to Paris to live and work for an American photojournalist named Lydia. It is the year of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. She has just graduated from Yale.
Lydia is a famous photojournalist. She is married to Clarence, a writer, who is working on a book about fashion. They have two children who live in New York: Portia, twenty, who is heartbroken about her broken romance with Olivier, and Josh, seventeen, who smokes pot, and skips school.
Kate files for Lydia and runs errands and when the children are in Paris, is a friend to the children. She writes letters for Lydia and is Lydia’s confidant.
Christie is Katie’s friend from Yale who is working in Paris for a while. She lives with Etienne, Katie’s cousin, and introduces Katie to some rich young men. One of them, Bastien, is very taken with Katie. He invites Katie to his chateau and tries to get Katie to sleep with him but Katie is not in love with him. From her first day in Paris, Katie has been in love with Olivier, Portia’s Olivier, and had slept with him. She now calls him in New York every week and they make plans to be together in London over New Years.
Katie sees Olivier over New Years. Olivier is exhausted from work and their holiday is not very satisfactory. But Katie is happy to have seen and been with Olivier.
Clarence is having an affair with a young woman he has been mentoring. When Lydia was out of town it was easy to conduct the affair. Now that Lydia is in town, letters must be passed from the young woman to Clarence. Katie is selected as the go-between. But when Clarence becomes ill with the flu, the young woman sends an amulet and a letter. Katie gives the amulet to Clarence and Lydia finds it and the letter and accuses Katie of betrayal. She is in terrible trouble. Lydia is wild but finally calms down, but she doesn’t forget.
Etienne has contracted AIDS. Katie has said that she will go with him to talk to his parents in Orleans.
Katie has another weekend with Olivier in Versailles. It is a bad weekend and Katie breaks up with Olivier. She realizes he has been keeping in contact with Lydia and her family. This is not acceptable to her.
Etienne and Katie go to Orleans to visit Etienne’s parents. Katie realizes they are open and honest people, not like Lydia and Clarence and Portia and Josh. She resolves to tell Lydia about her and Olivier and quit her job and go to paint in New York.
Katie returns to Paris and tells Lydia about her and Olivier. Lydia already knows. Olivier had told her. She wants Katie to write a letter to Portia apologizing for being the go-between for Clarence and the young woman. Katie refuses. She insists that she isn’t Portia’s friend. Lydia refuses to give Katie references. Katie says that is fine. She has earned enough in experience this past year. She leaves and returns to New York.
This was not an earth-shattering book but it was a good story. It was the story of a young girl caught up with a dysfunctional family in Paris and caught up in a long-distance love affair with an unscrupulous young man. She was infatuated. She was in love with Olivier and nothing else mattered. If she had gone to Orleans sooner maybe she would have seen the light earlier and life would have been different. She wanted everyone to like her and so she ingratiated herself with everyone. That’s not the way to be. Life doesn’t work that way. Katie learned the hard way.