#aww2018 · 2018 Reviews · Australian · contemporary fiction · France · romance · rural fiction

Book Review: The Paris Wedding by Charlotte Nash

Title: The Paris Weddingthe paris wedding small

Author: Charlotte Nash

Published: June 27th 2017

Publisher: Hachette Australia

Pages: 368

Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Romance, Rural

RRP: $29.99

Rating: 4.5 stars

Ten years ago, Rachael West chose not to move to Sydney with high-school sweetheart Matthew. Instead she stayed on the family wheat farm, caring for her seriously ill mother and letting go of her dreams. Now, Matthew is marrying someone else. And Rachael is invited to the wedding, a lavish affair in Paris, courtesy of the flamboyant family of Matthew’s fiancee – a once-in-a-lifetime celebration at someone else’s expense in Europe’s most romantic city.

She is utterly unprepared for what the week brings. Friendships will be upended, secrets will be revealed – and on the eve of the wedding, Rachael is faced with an impossible dilemma: should she give up on the promise of love, or destroy another woman’s life for a chance at happiness?

My review:

Established Australian rural fiction writer Charlotte Nash ventures further afield with her latest release. The Paris Wedding combines the rich beauty of Paris, with the dusty plains of outback Australia. The Paris Wedding features a strong romantic storyline, offset with a compelling story of self discovery.

Charlotte Nash is one of my favourite rural fiction authors. I have read all four of her previous books, so when I discovered her latest novel combines an Australian country setting with my happy place, Paris, I was over the moon to say the least! Thankfully Nash’s novel lived up to the high expectations I attached to it and more!

As this book is titled ‘The Paris Wedding’ do expect plenty of romance, complete with high and complicated emotions. Romance is in air in the form of leading man and Rachael’s former love, Matthew’s wedding to the wealthy Bonnie. Then there is a hopeful romance that sparks in the city of love, between Rachael and official wedding photographer Antonio. Nash also explores the nostalgia between past lovers Rachael and Matthew. While further complications in love come from a storyline featuring Rachael’s best friend and fellow wedding guest Sammy. Each of these romantic sub plots has the power to sweep the reader off their feet in the love stakes!

The Paris Wedding offers so much more than a heart and flowers style love story. Nestled within the pages of Nash’s latest novel is a powerful story that explores unfulfilled dreams and lost opportunities. It also conveys the feelings of how life can soon pass you by, delivering gut wrenching feelings of regret and longing. For Rachael, it comes from observing the personal growth of others around her in the ten years she cared for her mother and their family farm. Nash depicts these complicated but common feelings well in The Paris Wedding. She also examines the impact a terminal illness such as Rachael’s mother has on offspring. This is handled with sensitivity and insight. She also explores marital estrangement through a narrative thread involving Sammy, Rachael’s likable best friend. Also included in The Paris Wedding is an involving and authentic story thread concerning Rachael’s sister Tess, husband Joel and her young family battling to keep their farm from the financial strain. All these threads are touched with plenty of heart and understanding from accomplished author Charlotte Nash.

Nash’s cast list is full and well presented. I loved the lead Rachael from the very beginning, she had her flaws for sure, but it made her much more real. I desperately wanted Rachael to make the right choices in love and life. Rachael is supported by two male characters. Matthew, the high school sweetheart and now groom, annoyed me and I felt angered by his selfish needs! Antonio, a potential love interest for Rachael, was a much better choice. I enjoyed the interplay between Rachael and Antonio. Supporting Rachael, are a bevy of secondary protagonists. These include appealing Sammy (who also has a great side story delivering a fine plot twist), to Rachael’s sister Tess, who provides much depth to the story. Bonnie and her colourful family members were great additions to the novel, adding further interest to the book and they helped to ensure I kept the pages of The Paris Wedding turning quickly. Local residents Bev and Bernie, who were utterly endearing people, round off the book well, demonstrating how Rachael was supported by so many lovely people.

As a significant amount of the book is set in Paris, I feel that it is essential that I provide a comment or two on this setting. Firstly, I have to say how much I liked Nash’s choice to contrast the cosmopolitan setting of Paris, against the small town setting of Parkes in Australia’s outback. It certainly was a refreshing move. It is great to see rural romance novels breaking the mould and setting stories of this genre further afield. It is hard to fault Nash’s research on her setting. She obviously has spent a great deal of time and has drawn from first hand experiences in Paris to inform her narrative. Rachael’s experiences of Paris showcase this city from the eyes of a first time tourist to the city. There is a certain wide eyed perspective of Paris, which is the vibe I picked up from Rachael. It was nice to be taken back to many of the beautiful spots I visited in Paris myself through these sequences.

Readers of The Paris Wedding are also given a great side storyline, featuring the lead Rachael. We learn fairly early on in the novel that one of Rachael’s hobbies is sewing and dressmaking. In fact, she has played a pivotal role in the local community sewing costumes for local productions. This passion comes from Rachael’s mother, who was a talented seamstress. Rachael’s flair for dressmaking brings attention in the form of the bride to be’s grandmother, which later leads to a lucrative offer. I loved Rachael’s personal journey and this aspect of the novel very much. Nash rounds off her novel well and exactly like real life, there is no perfect ending or a drive into the sunset. However, for the lead Rachael and company, there is much hope for the future.

The Paris Wedding is a novel that spoke to me on a personal level. It contains many of the ingredients I seek in a good novel. The stunning settings, the full romance subplots, an engaging lead, with a solid character set and an entrancing narrative all combine just perfectly. I can’t get enough of Charlotte Nash’s work, she sits firmly on my favourites list of Australian women writers doing great things for fiction in our country.

The Paris Wedding by Charlotte Nash was published on 27th June 2017 by Hachette  Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of The Paris Wedding, Charlotte Nash, visit here.

The Paris Wedding, is book #94 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge

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