Photo: Penguin Random House UK
Thank you to the team at Penguin UK’s Michael Joseph for granting me a copy of Jojo Moyes’ Paris For One and Other Stories via NetGalley.
Paris For One and Other Stories is a collection of short stories written by British novelist Jojo Moyes, best known for penning the heartbreaking Me Before You. In total, there are eleven little stories.
For the most part, I found them to be unique, entertaining and fun pieces of women’s fiction that I was able to connect with and a share a few chuckles and sobs.
I’m switching up my review style a little for this book, so the layout of this post will be a bit like my The Bane Chronicles review with short mini reviews and an individual rating for each story. If you want to skip that, then a TL;DR summary of my thoughts on the book as whole and the overall rating that I’ve given Paris For One and Other Stories is at the very end of the post.
PARIS FOR ONE
About: When Nell’s boyfriend Pete bails on their weekend trip to Paris, she decides to stay and experience the uber romantic city of lights by herself. Cue Fabien, the dashing Frenchman nursing a heartbreak, to help make Nell’s Parisian vacay a whole lot more exciting.
My Thoughts: Paris For One was a really strong start to the book and the perfect bit of chick lit. There’s romance, comedy and a lot of emotion.
Moyes took us on a wonderful adventure around the city with such enjoyable characters. I couldn’t have really asked for more!
If I took anything away from Paris For One, it’s that you mustn’t settle for a Pete when you deserve a Fabien… and to always try to make the best of an unpleasant situation.
BETWEEN THE TWEETS
About: PR nightmare… with a twist. When Declan begins receiving tweets from a mysterious user claiming that he’s had an affair, it’s down to the team at Frank Digger Associates to save his reputation and find out who’s behind the lies.
My Thoughts: It felt like a bit of a disappointment after the stunning Paris For One. There was a rather eyebrow raising plot twist, but I just couldn’t get into Between The Tweets.
Even now, upon reflection, it still feels very out of place in comparison to the other stories. Between The Tweets‘ tale had more mystery thriller undertones than the romance orientated theme that the rest of the novellas in this book share.
It was a bit blink-and-you-miss-it and should have perhaps been spared for later on in the novel rather than directly after a powerhouse like Paris For One.
LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON
About: In an attempt to rekindle the spark in their romance, Doug surprises Sara with a holiday from their busy lives. Unfortunately, Sara just can’t switch off.
My Thoughts: I’ll admit that I did glaze over this one a little at the start and perhaps because I’m not a middle aged woman, several years into a marriage with kids and responsibilities, this one didn’t resonate with me as much as I see it has done so for others.
The emotions that Doug and Sara feel aren’t wholly alien to me, but at the age of eighteen, I don’t think I was able to put myself in their shoes or envision it as easily. That being said, I did think it was a pretty decent story that I imagine likely does depict the realities of long-time marriage.
Older readers who’s fella (or lady!) put a ring on it sometime ago, this one goes out to you!
A BIRD IN THE HAND
About: Ah, Beth and Ben and the romance that never was. Former colleagues, Beth and Ben encounter one another again at a party. Both now married, they share intense animosity towards one another. Each blaming the other person for the failing of their once-budding romance.
My Thoughts: Just when I thought Jojo Moyes might be losing me, she reeled me back in with this charming and heartbreaking masterpiece.
Move aside Paris For One, A Bird in The Hand was probably my ultimate favourite short story in the entire book. I really felt for both Beth and Ben having spent so long resenting the other for abandoning them and while I silently willed for Beth to run off with Ben like in the movies, I think she did the realistic thing by sticking with Simon despite knowing that there will always be a sense of regret.
A completely emotional one, A Bird In The Hand was incredibly poignant and one of the best examples of Moyes’ talent.
You can’t help but feel sympathy for Beth and Ben as the novella unfolds. The true culprit and demise of their relationship was in fact pubs.
About: The peril of having two people with the same bag. When someone accidentally takes Sam’s bag instead, she ends up with some very interesting shoes that transform her career and life overnight.
My Thoughts: Brief and humorous, I found Crocodile Shoes to be ingenious. Witty writing with paired with excellent comedic timing, this was the refreshing and lighthearted read I needed after the turmoil and tears of A Bird In The Hand.
About: Alice gets held at gunpoint as a trio of robbers attempt to ransack the jewellery store she works at. Yet, it turns out the man holding the gun is a softie at heart.
My Thoughts: I mean it’s very far fetched. The chances of befriending and starting a romance with the criminal holding a gun to your head are very slim. Yet, it did make for an intriguing and surprising read.
HONEYMOON IN PARIS
About: Liv and David are in the city of lights for their honeymoon, but it isn’t as romantic and spectacular as Liv thought it would be. When David keeps shelving their honeymoon plans to instead attend business meetings, Liv stumbles upon a painting of an exasperated wife and begins to wonder if she jumped into marriage too quick.
My Thoughts: An introduction to Moyes’ novel The Girl You Left Behind, Honeymoon in Paris is a stellar addition to this collection of stories and goes hand in hand with Paris For One in capturing the charm of the city.
Honeymoon in Paris is made up of two stories. The one I mentioned about Liv and David which takes place in 2002 and one in 1912 which centres around another pair of newlyweds, Edouard and Sophie.
I adored the parallels that Moyes painted between the two couples and I’m very thrilled that they both managed to resolve their blues to have a happy ending. My only complaint is that Honeymoon in Paris should’ve been the closing story. The Christmas List is excellent, but it would’ve been nicer to come full circle and end the book back in Paris.
I was so enthralled by Honeymoon in Paris, that I’ve bumped The Girl You Left Behind further up my to-read list.
LAST YEAR’S COAT
About: Evie’s current coat is falling apart, but the new one she wants is extremely expensive and completely out of the question as she and her husband are already struggling to make ends meet.
My Thoughts: While it has a lovely, heartwarming ending, I found Evie quite absurd. It’s one thing to want luxury items. We all have the tendency to browse the shelves of designer outlets, spying an item that we love and praying to win the lottery.
However, in the modern age, there’s always going to be a budget alternative to the pricey original. After forking out £26 for a fancy lipstick quite recently, I was very disappointed upon delivery to find out it was half the size of what I could get of similar quality for £7.
Having learnt this the costly way, I found it rather insane that Evie would rather brave the rain coatless and come home soaked to the skin everyday than settle for a cheaper coat. We all have our heart set on something, but very few things are worth hypothermia. It felt like she was being overly petty and difficult which put me off the entire story.
THIRTEEN DAYS WITH JOHN C
About: Miranda finds a phone filled with salacious texts from someone named ‘John C.’ to the recipient, but what happens when she decides to text back?
My Thoughts: Not Moyes at her strongest. While the twist at the ending was a nice shock, I’m indifferent to the story as a whole.
I didn’t hate it and it’s certainly not my least favourite of Paris For One and Other Stories‘ collection, but it wasn’t one that blew my mind or made me laugh and cry. It was just… there.
About: Em’s apprehensive about returning home for the holidays and having to confess that her husband has left her for his secretary. While waiting for her flight, she meets Margot who takes her on a journey through Duty Free where Em learns to realise her self-worth and to own her insecurities.
My Thoughts: Again, another one I feel indifferent about. On the whole, it was a sweet story and Margot was a lot of fun to follow, but it’s not anything to write home about nor did it invoke any particular reaction or emotion.
THE CHRISTMAS LIST
About: Everyone hates Christmas shopping, but no-one hates it more than Chrissie right now. On a mad dash to find the items on a Christmas list created by her husband’s snobby and hard-to-please mother, a taxi ride with what seems to be London’s sweetest driver causes her to realise that she needs out from her helpless marriage.
My Thoughts: Thankfully, Paris For One and Other Stories recovered from its lull and picked up again with The Christmas List.
Although it’s February and the tune of carols and the consumption of endless mince pies seems like a distant memory, this story served to be a pertinent reminder that we should always spend the festive period with people who care about us. Life is too short to spend the most wonderful time of year™️️ feeling stressful.
TL;DR (Overall Thoughts And Rating)
Paris For One and Other Stories is honestly a rollercoaster in book form. It’s packed with so many emotional highs and lows. At times it’s amazing and you can lose yourself in the fun of it and at other times, you’re disappointed and want a refund.
I’m very thankful to Penguin for giving me the opportunity to read this as I found some terrific gems of writing that will surely become favourites of mine. Yet, some stories left me feeling a little deflated and dampened my enthusiasm towards this book.
There are stories like Honeymoon in Paris and A Bird in The Hand that give incredible insights and takes on romance and marriage, while stories like Crocodile Shoes and Holdups allow for some carefree silliness and humour. Some stories you have to look at from a realistic perspective and some you have to abandon all logic and just go with the fun. I found that really enjoyable. Paris For One And Other Stories has a really eclectic mix of short stories that showcases Moyes’ range.
On the other hand, there are stories which just feel so out of place and even in a collection of short stories, they felt like fillers. Between The Tweets, Last Year’s Coat and Thirteen Days of John C. were stories I could’ve done without. To me, they were dull and the characters were either a little annoying or I just couldn’t find anything to relate to or be captivated by. I felt like they weren’t quite on par with the other stories quality-wise which then caused the entire book to suffer and feel like it was a drag when it wasn’t.
As I mentioned in the mini review, I would’ve loved Honeymoon in Paris to conclude the book as opposed to The Christmas List. Despite The Christmas List being really enjoyable, I feel like it would’ve been better to come full circle and end the book where it began, in Paris.
Overall, I’m giving Paris For One and Other Stories four stars. While it did lose momentum due to some stories that I personally found lacklustre, there were some stories that I fell in love with because they were so beautiful and unique.