A lyrical tale of love and its aftermath in the City of Light.
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Why I love it
I think if the news cycle was less intense, or I wasn’t in desperate need of a palate cleanser post-Handmaid’s Tale and Westworld, I might have overlooked this book. I’m not naturally drawn to romantic stories (see above), and the idea of reading about a cello maker in the throes of a long-distance affair felt out of my wheelhouse. But skipping Goodbye, Paris would’ve been my loss.
From the beginning I was hooked: When David, married father of three, saves someone on a subway platform in Paris, the surveillance footage of the incident turns him into a national hero. Unfortunately, his valiance is captured right along with the fact that he is clearly on a night out with Grace, an instrument maker and former cello prodigy who is definitely not his wife. When the ensuing media whirlwind drags their infidelity into the limelight, Grace is left tending to her instruments and waiting for David to declare his marriage is over. But will she hold out for him to finally go all in with her, or begin to see her life’s trajectory in a new light?
There are a lot of ways to read and enjoy the characters in this book. Hate-read David for any ex you need to remember and then excise (it’s cathartic, I promise). Joy-read Mr. Williams and Nadia, an unusual pair of sidekicks and music enthusiasts who bring hope when Grace is in dire straits. And cheer-read Grace, who makes classical music exhilarating, who perseveres in the face of heartbreak, and is the unlikely, though very winning, hero of her own story.
Grace once had the beginnings of a promising musical career, but she hasn't been able to play her cello publicly since a traumatic event at music college years ago. Since then, she's built a quiet life for herself in her small English village, repairing instruments and nurturing her long-distance affair with David, the man who has helped her rebuild her life even as she puts her dreams of a family on hold until his children are old enough for him to leave his loveless marriage.
But when David saves the life of a woman in the Paris Metro, his resulting fame shines a light onto the real state of the relationship(s) in his life. Shattered, Grace hits rock bottom and abandons everything that has been important to her, including her dream of entering and winning the world's most important violin-making competition. Her closest friends—a charming elderly violinist with a secret love affair of his own, and her store clerk, a gifted but angst-ridden teenage girl—step in to help, but will their friendship be enough to help her pick up the pieces?
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This book capture such brilliant emotions! I haven’t read a book that so accurately explains part of the musician’s realm of thought and life. Could not put this down! Extremely moving and motivating!
I am not a musician, can’t carry a tune, but this book made me feel the beauty of Grace’s music. She didn’t always make the best choices in life but what a good choice of friends! Read this one!
Los Angeles, CA
What a short but super sweet story this was! I loved the detail of Grace's instrument creation process and the charming cast of characters around her. This book as like a never-ending pile of cookies!
This was such a feel-good book! I really enjoyed learning more about music and how instruments are built. And I really loved the unlikely friendships between Naomi, Grace, and Mr. Williams. Wonderful!
Started slow, but w/ such a huge payoff by the end! A love story about everything other than romance-friends, art, food, architecture, and above all, finding your own self-worth. Left me full of hope.
Pembroke Pines , FL
This book was really good. It was my first read with book of the month and it really lived up to all the hype. It was one of those books that you can't put down because you have to know what is next.
Intelligent, smart and so much more than I was expecting. I really loved the instrument making and the role music played in the story. A much more emotionally intelligent book than I was anticipating.
What I loved about this book is that while it was short, it had so much heart. The characters were rich and well developed, and there was so much that I was left to think about when the book was over.
I fell in love with Grace & how strong she became in the end. She placed herself & her passion first after following behind David for so many years The story allowed me to feel and dream of the music
Slow start, but it’s a slow build to the best ending. I felt empowered for the main character, and it made me reevaluate my own opinions towards relationships and how we can smash our own barriers.
Honestly, the only thing I didn't love about this book was David! Reading this book made for a very enjoyable day, & it was just what I needed in the busy back-to-work season of another school year.
The language used in this book was wonderful. I loved the story and all of its characters. I read it in less than 2 days. What a wonderful first novel from Anstey Harris. Can't wait for the next!
A light-hearted, adorable story. I thought Grace's character development was excellent, and both Nadia and Mr. Williams made delightful supporting characters. Of course, the music aspect was perfect!
This was an absolutely amazing book about the strength of a woman and the bond between three rather unrelated characters. A woman whose life is in shambles and she recovers strongly and with dignity.
West Winfield, NY
This book is about music, love, friendship, family, and choices. Grace & her life are like an instrument that has been damaged, but when repaired and brought back to health, are beautiful and worthy.
This is such a beautiful story. It perfectly illustrates the power that music has to destroy and to heal. The love between Grace, Mr. Williams and Nadia for both music and for each other is perfect.
Loved it, love her writing style. The way her music and her instruments were woven into the story. I cried when she tossed her shop, humanizing the injured instruments. Her characters were endearing.
I'm so glad this wasn't a love story. One of those books I wouldn't usually pick but so glad I did. It was written so beautifully and knowledgeably. I could feel the character's passion for her art.
New Richmond, WI
I didn't think I'd like this book at first, but it was beautifully written. The story had me cheering for the main character, and wanting to spend time with her and her group of interesting friends.
LOVED this book. Harris' style is both thought-provoking and easy to digest. Could've been a quick read, but I savored it over the course of a couple months and found it relatable on so many levels.