We’ll Always Have Paris by Sue Watson
Publishing Date: 23rd March 2017
Source: Received from the publisher in return for an honest review!
Number of pages: 400
Genre: Women’s Fiction, General Fiction (Adult)
Rosie Jackson is beginning to slowly come to terms with a new life and a new future at the age of sixty-five.
Rosie is bereft when her husband Mike dies. She misses him terribly; even though he wasn’t the love of her life, she feels lonely in her grief, despite being close to her two grown-up daughters. With time away from the family florist business, Rosie has the space to think about the past and what might have been. She remembers a summer with first love Peter as one of the happiest times of her life, but her memories are bittersweet.
After a chance encounter with Peter forty-seven years later, they both begin to wonder ‘what if’ and whether it’s never too late for second chances in love . . .
Sue Watson got us used, or at least me, to humorous stories full of quirky, lovely heroines that already experienced a lot in their lives. “We’ll always Have Paris” however was remarkably different – it was much more serious in tone. Sure, Rosie, our heroine is already a mature woman and there are some comical situations but altogether it was a new direction, more mature. And I think it’s great – no matter what Ms Watson’s writes about, it turns out into a lovely, so close to life story with relatable characters.
All of the characters in this book are wonderfully rounded and feel like real people and the author has brilliantly captured the differences between the generations. We have the grandmother Rosie, a lovely, woman who remained young who loves her family above all but there is also a lot of life in her and I absolutely freakingly adored the fact that she felt she deserves to live, even after her beloved husband dies. She had her period of grief and she still loved Mike but she felt young enough to follow her heart. She devoted all of her life to her family, she raised two great daughters and had two brilliant, quirky granddaughters (they don’t appear often in this story but what I got made me fell in love with those girls, especially with the older one – I loved their conversations!) and now it was Rosie’s time. She wasn’t afraid of challenges and new experiences and I truly admired her for this.
I loved how the book dealt with all the dilemmas and how gently and with a lot of respect Sue Watson approached all the questions and uncertainties of falling in love when you’re of a mature age. She took all the aspects into account as it was not only Rosie’s life that was changing but also this of her family.
I only think that I’d love a little different introduction to Peter. Rosie was reminiscing, thinking about her youth and her first young love and then suddenly, boom, he entered the scenes – it was obvious that he’s going to appear in the story sooner or later. I think for me it would be bigger surprise when he first appeared and then Rosie would introduce us to him and tell us about him and their young, turbulent relationship. Also, the book was on a very steady level, the pace was very peaceful and quiet and yes, sometimes you don’t need fireworks and drama but this time I was waiting for something to happen. Not sure what, perhaps some troubles in paradise, just something that would pump up the volume and the temperature a little and add so very needed twist. But other than that, I really adored this story, it was lovely, warm and full of feelings.
“We’ll Always Have Paris” is really a book about women – power, I think, putting women in the centre in this story. It is about different generations of women, because even those that are not longer with the characters were important part of the book, like Rosie’ mother Margaret, who Rosie now, grandmother herself, learnt to appreciate. It shows the unconditional love mothers feel, it shows how families work and it also shows that actually there is always the same circle of life – we give birth to our children, we love, adore them, we suffer together with them, we want to kill them but they always stay our children, no matter how old they are, and it is the same for our daughters, granddaughters… This is a story for everybody, no matter how old you are because it shows you how to appreciate your family and your own time in life. And hello, it is never too late for a romance and fall in love, right? This is also a wonderful tale of rediscovering not only your first love, but also yourself. It shows that loving one person doesn’t mean you can’t love the other. It’s about real family and real family dynamics, and this all written in such a lovely, vivid and gentle way. Witty and poignant, sweet and bitter, a real joy and gem to read. Recommended!