Title: Paris Syndrome
Author: Lisa Walker
Published: March 19th 2018
Publisher: Harper Collins Books Australia
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Young Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Can romance only be found in Paris, the city of love?
Happiness (Happy) Glass has been a loner since moving to Brisbane and yet still dreams about living in Paris with her best friend Rosie after they finish Year Twelve. But Rosie hasn’t been terribly reliable lately.
When Happy wins a French essay competition, her social life starts looking up. She meets the eccentric Professor Tanaka and her girl-gardener Alex who recruit Happy in their fight against Paris Syndrome – an ailment that afflicts some visitors to Paris. Their quest for a cure gives Happy an excellent excuse to pursue a good-looking French tourism intern,also called Alex. To save confusion she names the boy Alex One and the girl Alex Two.
As Happy pursues her love of all things French, Alex Two introduces Happy to her xylophone-playing chickens whose languishing Facebook page Happy sponsors.
But then sex messes things up when, confusingly, Happy ends up kissing both of the Alex’s. Soon neither of them is speaking to her and she has gone from two Alex’s to none…
Paris Syndrome got me hook, line and sinker on the intriguing title alone. As an enthusiast of all things Paris, I was keen to see what Lisa Walker’s latest novel had to offer. Behind the cover of this young adult release is a memorable coming of age story, which is both spirited and in the same breath touched with moments of sadness.
Moving from Sydney to Brisbane hasn’t been easy for seventeen year old Happiness (Happy) Glass. She has pretty much been a lost cause since her move three months ago. The hopes and dreams she once shared with her soul mate Rosie seem like distant memories now. A chance opportunity to reignite her old passion and love for all things Paris comes in the form of a French Tourism Board essay competition. When Happy wins the competition her life is changed for the better. Not only does the competition throw her into the arms of handsome tourism intern Alex (Alex number 1) it also introduces Happy to a very different Alex. This Alex is a girl who is as dubbed Alex number two. Happy’s connection to Alex number two contributes to the acquaintance of Professor Tanaka, who together with Alex number two, are fighting to combat a strange ailment called ‘Paris Syndrome’. Happy learns that Paris syndrome is a fever that affects members of the population who have unrealistic and overzealous perceptions of the city of love. Happy considers how she and Rosie’s own obsession with Paris could be classed as a typical case of Paris Syndrome. At the same time as dealing with the recognition of this ailment, Happy begins to develop a bond with both Alex number one and number two. When she takes the plunge and kisses both, it has far reaching implications for all involved.
Paris Syndrome marks a welcome return to the writing of Australian author Lisa Walker. I recall enjoying my experience of Walker’s previous book, Arkie’s Pilgrimage to the Next Big Thing. Walker examines familiar territory by focussing her story on the self discovery of her lead. While her previous book was written for an adult contemporary fiction audience, Paris Syndrome has been marketed as a young adult novel, from ages 14 plus. I will say as a thirty something that adults and young adult readers will both appreciate this book. It has broad appeal.
I do have to confess as an addict of all things French or Parisian, I will pick up any book that comes my way if there is so much as a small mention of Paris. I simply adore the city and despite having made two trips to the city of love, I have no doubt that one day I will return. In the meantime, I do like to fill my reading preferences with books that feature Paris. I like the original spin Lisa Walker offers on Paris. I know prior to this book I had no idea of the concept of ‘Paris Syndrome’. I do think Walker does the Paris theme justice in her novel. I loved all the subtle sketches provided of classic French films, fashions, cultural icons and of course the mouth watering cuisine. It was a feast for any Francophile!
Lisa Walker presents her readers with a well defined and charismatic character set. In the lead protagonist Happy (fantastic name!) we follow the character journey of a young woman on the very fringe of adulthood. Over the course of the novel, our lead negotiates some fairly tough feelings, from loss, separation, starting over, love and future aspirations. This is a turning point in any late teen’s life and Walker presents this stage of Happy’s life with insight. There is a fairly big plot twist that is linked to Happy’s coming of age story and for me it sent me into shock, as well as drawing me closer to Happy. Supporting Happy are a band of secondary characters that add much substance to this tale. I enjoyed Happy’s interactions with the young French man Alex, the female gardener Alex, the wise Professor Tanaka, her boss Kevin and mother. Walker balances moments of fun with poignancy in the interactions that take place between her characters.
For a young adult book Paris Syndrome covers a number of moving themes. Walker highlights the difficulties of moving into adulthood, dealing with a change in location, friendship, sex and love preferences, health crisis, all within the one involving novel. Most of all, I think Walker does a very good job of capturing the innermost feelings and reservations of young woman, with a convincing tone.
Whether you are a young adult reader or an adult reader, I am confident Paris Syndrome will be sure to suit your tastes. It is easy, light hearted and enjoyable, but also confronting at times. For lovers of all things French related, Paris Syndrome offers one delectable slice of Paris!
Paris Syndrome by Lisa Walker was published on 19th March 2018 by Harper Collins Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of Paris Syndrome, Lisa Walker, visit here.
*I wish to thank Harper Collins Books Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
Paris Syndrome is book #23 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge