French Kissing by Lynne Shelby

The story starts with letters written by the awkward and inexperienced hands of two children: Anna from London and Alex from Paris. At first, they don’t know what to say to each other. Anna is practising her French, Alex his English, but with time, intimacy of friendship grows between them. This is reinforced when they meet face to face and spend some time together. They are mates. They can trust each other. They have the purity of true friendship between them.

Then, years later, Alex arrives in London. He is no longer a pimply teenager – he is a handsome young man with a broken heart. Anna’s friends compete for his affection. Anna’s boyfriend is jealous of him. And the reader begins to think that Nick is right even though both Anna and Alex would swear there is nothing going on between them. Because there isn’t, except…

Lynne Shelby weaves the intricate lace of their transforming friendship with great insight. Her characterisation is vibrant, but realistic. She shows their vulnerabilities, changes of heart, their self-discovery and their doubts with subtlety and without making things too obvious. You know how it is going to end. You will them in the right direction, but there are twists and turns along the way, which keep you on the page.

The atmosphere of bohemian Paris is expertly created. The reader feels drawn into the city.

Reading the book, I felt this could be another You’ve Got Mail waiting to be made into a movie.

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