Free French Lessons and Cocktails at Le Carmen

There are countless ways to learn French. One way is to read an easy novel (novelette) about a bilingual girl who moves from London to France for a job; for a free French lesson, you can parrot the French phrases she inserts into her conversation, order the foods she eats at the cafes she frequents and imitate her thoughts about her new friends and her new surroundings. Cocktails at Le Carmen succeeds brilliantly as a cheap alternative to the Rosetta Stone. But as a novel, this book is sadly lacking.

 The plot setup is a bit cliche and the characters and their situations are too convenient. How likely is it that on a train ride between two countries the one person you have a conversation with will be the person whose spouse you’ll meet a shot while later in another situation, in another country? And that the exact thing that person says they need will be the thing you are able to provide them? How likely is that the friend you think is behaving sinister has an identical twin who she never mentioned and who provides the perfect explanation for her behavior? Those incredible run-ins are too unbelievable for a story of this nature. The characters are not described in a way to make them sufficiently likeable and the attempt to make them all complex is not particularly successful.

Also, there were several places where the writing was trite, with the focus on mentioning famous brand names and recognizable places instead of giving information that would add to the story. 

One of the best features of the book is the beautiful cover but it sets up an unrealistic expectation for great writing whereas the book feels like an early draft that isn’t quite ready for publication. 

I don’t feel this book represents adequately what readers are really looking for, even in the lighter Chick Lit/Women’s Fiction genre.

Overall, I give this book 2.5 stars, which is higher than my initial rating, mainly because while the writing was lacking, the cover was beautiful and I was able to finish it in an afternoon.

Full Disclosure: I received an Advance Reader Copy from Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review. I’ll be happy to revisit this book and amend my review if it’s re-edited before publication. 

5 Comments Add yours

  1. jeanniezelos says:

    I hate doing low star reviews but the need for integrity is essential otherwise what’s the point in reviewing? So its good to see that people do rate a book honestly, that way readers don’t get mislead.
    I enjoyed this read, and your view shows what I’m always saying – readers want different things from their novels. I’ve felt guilty when i’ve 2 starred a novel and others loved it, but somehow what they liked just didn’t sit with me. I always feel bad for the authors, but sometimes its just the way things go – i choose a book I think I’ll like and just didn’t. I put my 2 star review in to netgalley yesterday for the latest Alexandra Ivy book – I love her work but that one just didn’t sit right with me, and i just couldn’t get in to it.
    BTW I don’t like the cover on this – it almost put me off. I don’t take too much notice of covers except occasionally where they spark a real like or dislike πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Run Wright says:

      Don’t feel bad. I think experienced writers know when their work is sub par. And it’s better to give honest feedback, highlighting what you didn’t like, so the editors can correct if and make it better. At the end of the day, they want to get a good product that will appeal to the masses so it will sell. Trying to be nice by holding back the truth probably doesn’t do them any good in the long run.

      Like

  2. BUT you learnt some French πŸ˜‰ C’est bien!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Run Wright says:

      Oui. That was the silver lining. πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

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