Jojo Moyes meets Eleanor Oliphant in Goodbye, Paris, an utterly charming novel that proves that sometimes you have to break your heart to make it whole.
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?
Filled with lovable, quirky characters, this poignant novel explores the realities of relationships and heartbreak and shows that when it comes to love, there’s more than one way to find happiness.
Anstey Harris is based by the seaside in south-east England where she lives with her violinmaker husband and two dogs. She teaches creative writing in the community, local schools, and occasionally as an associate lecturer for Christchurch University in Canterbury. If you'd like to have a go at some writing exercises with Anstey, head over to Instagram and look at her IGTV channel, where she also interviews authors about their journeys and tips for writing.
Anstey writes about the things that make people tick, the things that bind us and the things that can rip us apart. In 2015, she won the H G Wells Short Story Prize for her story, Ruby and The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton (a Richard and Judy pick for July 2019) won the RNA Sapere Books Pomantic Novel of the Year title in 2020.
In novels, Anstey tries to celebrate uplifting ideas and prove that life is good and that happiness is available to everyone once we work out where to look (usually inside ourselves). She enjoys writing issue-driven books where the issues take a back seat to the characters. Her short stories tend not to resolve quite so well and often feature sticky ends...
Things that interest Anstey include her children and grandchildren, green issues and conservation, adoption and adoption reunion (she is an adopted child, born in an unmarried mothers' home in Liverpool in 1965), dogs, and food. Always food. She would love to be on Masterchef but would never recover from the humiliation if she got sent home in the first round.
Comparisons to other books in book descriptions is a pet peeve of mine because most of the time I just don’t see them. I’ve read and enjoyed several books by Jojo Moyes but I guess not the ones that this is compared too. I did read and love Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and the comparison is thin at best. So if you are going into this looking for those stories, you may not find them. I didn’t, but having said that, I found a sweet story in its own right and I wish publishers would promote a book on its own merits.
It was sad from the beginning - the status to which Grace Atherton elevates her boyfriend, David, her married boyfriend with a wife and children had me feeling sorry for her as she was just so gullible. I had such mixed feelings about Grace Atherton, about the story at first. I definitely didn’t get why Grace hung in there with this guy for 8 years, believing that he’d leave his wife when the kids were grown. The story moves back and forth between the present and when they first met and recounts the times that they meet in Paris, when of course it’s convenient for David. Grace is a luthier, making and repairing string instruments, a career she embarks on since she has been unable to play her cello after being thrown out of music school, when she believed she had a promising career as a musician. Eventually we discover some of the trauma that she experienced, but it isn’t until the end that Grace discovers that it wasn’t because of her lack of talent.
At some point, I became more engaged in the story with the introduction and connection to two other characters. Nadia is a teenage girl working in Grace’s shop, a talented musician who is experiencing some typical teenage drama as well as the hurt over her parents marital problems and their lack of concern for her. Mr. Williams, an aging customer for whom she refurbishes an old violin made by a friend is lonely and has his own relationship stories to tell . I loved the kind and wise Mr. Williams. This unlikely trio of friends, three sad, lonely people help each other to heal, to overcome their grief and to find themselves. A little predictable, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
I received an advanced copy of this book from Touchstone through NetGalley.
Grace Atherton was a promising cellist. Her mother worked two jobs and her dad was a mechanic. Her parents paid more for her cello than they did for the family car. They dreamed Grace's dreams. In her first year of college, Grace was traumatized. Criticism and humiliation destroyed her confidence. Her overly critical professor asked her to leave his music program. She never played cello in public again.
Grace found her calling. She became a luthier, a restorer and maker of violins and violas. She soon started to craft cellos as well. She played her cello alone in her house using it as a coping mechanism. She practiced for herself. A chance meeting at a party hooked her up with David, a married man. They had an instant connection, were head over heels in love. They visualized their future marriage and family when his young children were older. In the meantime, he lovingly showed Grace, by his thoughts and actions, that she was loved and highly valued. He surprised her by entering her in the Cremona Triennale Competition in Italy. Held in Cremona, the birthplace of Antonio Stradivari, the judges would determine the top violin, voila, cello and bass. The winner in each category would find the prices of their instruments soar as a result of this recognition. Grace must now craft a flawless cello. Winning could fulfill her promises and dreams.
Recently, Grace and David had returned from a getaway in Paris. After attending a concert, they walked to the Metro. As the train approached, a young woman fell on the tracks. Without a second's thought, David jumped onto the tracks and was able to whisk her away moments before the train entered the station. Trying to avoid recognition, David and Grace went up the escalator to leave the Metro station. The public had other ideas. They wanted to acknowledge the gallant hero. CCTV footage revealed the mystery man, David and arguably proof of his dalliance with Grace. She was devastated. Back in England, Grace had been able to cultivate two friendships. Mr. Williams, a customer and eighty year old violinist and Nadia, her eighteen year old angst ridden shop assistant. Their support of downtrodden Grace helped her heal from her heartbreak.
Grace's job as luthier was fascinating. I learned that a cello never sounds as good on the first bowing. If a great instrument has been crafted, it will continue to sound better over the years of playing. The depth of sound will be conveyed through the rings and knots of the wood.
"Goodbye,Paris" by Anstey Harris is ultimately a novel showing that disappointment and heartbreak must not prevail. Support and encouragement can change a narrative and create a different path to happiness.
Thank you Touchstone and Anstey Harris for the opportunity to read "Goodbye, Paris" in exchange for an honest review.
Wow, Grace, the main character in Goodbye, Paris is leading a complicated life. She had once been a prominent cellist, but something happened in college that has kept her from playing in public since. Grace leads a somewhat hidden life while she has a long-distance affair with a man named David who is married with children. She is tied to David and waiting for him to leave his marriage for her, but he openly refuses until his children are grown. And until that time, Grace waits.........
David gains unplanned public attention when he heroically saves a woman on the Metro. However, the fame comes at a cost: his privacy. Grace is left broken-hearted and is considering bowing out of the her cello-making competition into which she has put all of her energy.
Grace’s saviors come in the forms of two unlikely friends, an eighty-year-old man and a teenage girl. How will this quirky pair help Grace put the pieces of her shattered life back together?
Goodbye, Paris is a charming, comforting story of overcoming obstacles and pain through friendship and how a heart can mend itself with the bolstering of steadfast companions.
Thank you to Touchstone for the complimentary ARC. All opinions are my own.
A wonderful, uplifting tale about finding friendship in the most unexpected of places. Grace is a violin maker that has her own shop in rural England and is in a long distance relationship with David, who lives in France. She has dreams of winning a prize in a prestigious violin making competition, but after a fateful night in Paris with David, her dreams come crashing down in the aftermath. With her soul at rock bottom, her friends rally around her, a lonely old man and an angst-ridden teen become Grace's unlikely allies, as she tries to rebuild her life and make it to Italy in time for the competition. I was enchanted by this book, the characters are all too real, and I learned a lot about the making of stringed instruments, something that wasn't even on my radar before. But don't get me wrong, this book isn't overloaded with technical detail, it's a very interesting part, as is the competition in Italy itself, where makers of stringed instruments from around the world get together. This novel is full of charm and will delight even the most jaded reader. Recommended. My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
The marketing for this book stated it was for fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, which was a favorite of mine. So, I had to give this a try. At the beginning, I didn’t see the connection. Grace is already in a relationship, albeit with a married man. But while they are together in Paris, he saves a woman in the metro and their lives are changed.
The book is told from Grace’s perspective and she paints David in a wonderful light. But I disliked him from the get go. Call it my personal quirk. I’ve got a real problem with adultery. I never buy the whole “staying together for the kids” BS.
But I loved the relationship between Grace and Nadia. And with Mr. Williams. It is like Eleanor in that these friendships are not the standard. Their initial bond is music. I am always in awe of writers that can translate making art or music onto the written page. Harris has that ability. “We are an engine, the three of us, and we play with exactness, precision. We play like we are making a pact with the devil.” Harris also has the ability to describe the instruments. “The music this instrument makes warrants real, heavy words. It keeps making me think of food : of chocolate, of treacle, of dark burnt toast and melting yellow butter.”
I read this as a real paper book and I have to say, I missed being able to highlight sections on my kindle. This for example: “Isn’t that the beauty of life, Grace? Those unexpected moments where a turn that feels so wrong , so awkward at the time, blossoms into opportunities like this?” Or this: “ We are two adults with a brief episode of shared past; he’s not a monster and I’m not a failure. The past is mostly harmless.”
I can’t say I understood Grace’s actions. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt that amount of pain that I would do something like that. But the book ultimately is about learning from your mistakes and finding the strength to move on. It kept my interest and was a fascinating book. And keep the hanky nearby, you’ll need it. Another favorite for 2018. Five big sweet stars.
My thanks to Touchstone for an advance copy of this book.
Grace is a cellist and a luthier. She owns a shop where she repairs violins and violas. She loves her place in life and she loves her boyfriend David, though neither have brought her the fulfillment she imagined. After getting kicked out of music school, she no longer plays the cello in public and David happens to be married and has never given her the illusion that he’s planning to leave his wife, at least not while the children are little.
Grace has big plans however, she has entered the Cremona Triennale Competition, for which she is building a cello. It is her masterpiece. Mr. Williams, an aging a customer of her shop, who is kind, caring and gives sage advice, and Nadia, her energetic and sassy, teenage employee, support her fully through this endeavor. When a catastrophe happens putting David in the public eye, Grace’s life is torn to shreds. Will she be able to recover enough to play in the competition?
What makes a life? From the start of this novel, until its end, the answer to that question is different for Grace Atherton, who discovers what’s in her heart, her own sense of self and the simple fact that friendship is what makes the world go round.
This is a book where the characters have such heart and such depth that you feel what they feel, their feelings of anxiety, frustration, heartache, jubilance and love - every ounce of it oozes from these pages and into the hearts and souls of its readers. That is what Anstey Harris has accomplished with Goodbye Paris. My favorite is character Nadia. She is bright, bold, brilliant and oh so funny. Kudos to Anstey Harris for bringing such incredible characters to life. I loved them all.
Thank you to Touchstone for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Published on Goodreads, Amazon and Twitter on 9.16.18.
Anstey Harris choose the “feel good novel format “ for Goodbye, Paris, her first novel. She fully embraces this genre. Every person involved in this story has problems or issues or woes. And in the feel good format, all are neatly resolved by novels end. Grace Atherton has her life set. She repairs musical instruments in her shop, tends her home, and friends Nadia and Mr. Williams. Most importantly she waits patiently for the children of her married lover, David, to come of age so she and David can marry and live happily ever after. Life interferes with her plan. Now crisis after crisis occurs. Drugs, pregnancy, damaged instruments, retaliation by David’s other mistress, and stage fright are some of the problems. For me the weakness of the novel is that every issue is resolved. Not only resolved but resolved neatly, kindly and efficiently. It is too perfect. It is too neat. The book was eminently readable especially the descriptions of lovingly restoring the damaged instruments. If you suspend reality, you will love this book. But if reality creeps in, you will still enjoy it. I received an advance copy of this book from Netgalley. #netgalley #goodbyeparis
Anstey Harris gives us the delightful and moving story of the lonely Grace Atherton whose life revolves around her passion for music, although unable to play music in public after traumatic events in her past. She has settled into repairing stringed instruments at her violin shop, helped on Saturdays by the 17 year old Nadia, a girl with her own issues but an incredible musical talent, and sustained by clients, such as the elderly, compassionate, and kind Mr Williams. Grace's secrets keeps her distant from other people, but Grace has another passion, her 8 year long distance relationship with David, who lives in France, the love of her life, a man she trusts implicitly. However, David lives in France and is a married man, married to a lawyer, a couple that are only staying together because of their children whilst each pursues sexual relationships with others.
Out of the blue, David is hailed a hero on social media in a story that goes viral when he saves a life on the Paris Metro. However, this pushes a spotlight on David's life, throwing a light into its darkest corners, revealing him to be a liar, a man with other secrets. Grace is shattered at the heartbreak, a broken woman as her love lies bleeding, smashed into pieces. It is barely surprising she go offs the rails when the music within her crashes to a tumultuous halt. But Grace is not as alone as she imagines, as she picks up the vital elements of her life, helped by stalwart friends Mr Williams and Nadia, and music, her joy, once again takes flight within her. Music has not forsaken her as Grace once believed. Harris gives us wonderful characterisation, the need for friends, love, heartbreak overcome, amidst a vibrant backdrop of music and instruments throughout the novel. A lovely emotional read, an immersive read, completely engaging and absorbing. Many thanks to Simon and Schuster for an ARC.
Grace once had aspirations of a musical career playing her cello, but one traumatic experience at music school made her turn away from this dream. Years later, she owns an instrument repair shop where she spends her days working on instruments and catering to her long-distance, 8+ year affair with a married man. This is both a romantic love story and a musical love story.
This book has been compared to Eleanor Oliphant which is what attracted me (super loved that book!), however, I would not agree with that categorization as this was nothing like that novel. Grace was an interesting main character with many layers to her life, but she wasn’t nearly as quirky or endearing as Elenanor.
This book is heavy on musicality, orchestras and instruments, which isn’t something I click with and had me feeling distanced from the story. However, the relationships and affair aspect were interesting enough to overlook that and keep me intrigued and curious. My mind started to wander in the first half, but there is a big twist around halfway that brought a new edge to the storyline which pulled me back in and kept me invested until the end.
Overall, I enjoyed this novel for being light and easy. My attention did waver here and there, but I enjoyed this for being something totally different and refreshing from what I usually read.
Thank you to the publisher for the review copy! Thank you to my lovely local library for the audio loan!
Audio narrator: 4 stars! I enjoyed listening to this one and thought the narrator did a great job!
In Goodbye, Paris, a woman whose life is shattered finds the strength to turn everything around, thanks to two unlikely allies.
"The only way I am going to start to rebuild my life is on a ladder of honesty. This is where I start; this naked vision of me."
Grace is a talented luthier; the musical instruments she makes and restores are praised by musicians and collectors around the world. At one time she had a promising future as a musician herself, until a traumatic incident led to her departure from music school and her inability to play in front of anyone. Alone she can play forever; the minute someone steps into view she has a panic attack.
Grace has been in a relationship with David for eight years, shuttling back and forth from her home in the UK to his apartment in Paris. Everything has been arranged to fit David’s life; she has kept everyone else at bay while they’re together. She knows there will come a time when they can be together always, and she just needs to be patient. But in a split second, with a single reaction, everything changes, forcing Grace to push everything—and everyone—away, and to destroy the things she cherishes so much.
It will take the love and support of her teenage shop assistant and an elderly customer to find her passion again, to embrace the things she should and say goodbye to the things that hurt. That will involve reopening some old wounds and finding the courage to move on.
Goodbye, Paris was a really good story and I even got choked up a bit. (That should be surprising and yet not surprising at all.) It has some slow moments but Anstey Harris has created some tremendously memorable characters, and things unfold slightly differently than I expected. It's always nice to have a surprise or two when reading a romance novel, which are never that big on surprises.
My greatest criticism isn't of the book, it's of the marketing of it. The blurb refers to this book as "Jojo Moyes meets Eleanor Oliphant." I'm never keen on comparing books to the latest thing, because most of the time it either sets up expectations or makes people who didn't like the books it's being compared to shy away. Suffice it to say, there's not a trace of Oliphantishness in this book, and I'm not even certain where the Moyes comparison comes in.
Goodbye, Paris is a good book in its own right. It's a poignant, thought-provoking story worth reading.
A note to all publishing houses, blurbists, whoever else lends a hand in writing things like the above hoping it will sell a lot of books/earn high ratings simply due to the namedropping . . . .
I mean, I bought into it enough to request this from NetGalley, sure, but I wouldn’t hand over my hard earn dollars on a comparison like the above ever – mainly because I'm well aware that there is a snowball’s chance in Hades that there could even be something that resulted in a successful JoJo Moyes and Eleanor Oliphant mashup. Making statements like this backfires nearly 100% of the time. Stick with appealing to users via cutesie covers and titles like this one has. You'll find many of us are pretty much whores easy sales.
This one gets a “meh” amount of stars for the simple fact that I am not a music lover and this is a lot about music. Playing music, building instruments, music music music. It also didn’t help that the leading lady was supposed to be . . . .
“A fucking trainwreck of a forty-year-old who reads people’s diaries and shags other women’s husbands.”
Which would normally have me saying . . . .
But in this case only had me feeling annoyed that there was so little keeping my interest. And this was a story that should have really kept my interest. A woman discovers everything about her longtime relationship is not what she thinks, befriends her snarly employee and an elderly patron of her store and finds herself. Sadly, after finding myself lost in all the cello speak there was no hope for me.
ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest reiew. Thank you, NetGalley!
Such a beautiful story about second chances, about moving on after heartbreak, about finding friendship in the most unlikeliest of places... This book is compared to “Eleanor Oliphant” in the blurb, after finishing the book I can see it, but it takes a long time to get to that point... there are the same themes of friendship and needing people in your life and growing as a person.... The book is a bit of a slow burner, please stick with it! I also was extremely irritated in the beginning of the story, but it was so worth it!
Grace is a cellist, after a Tramatic experience in music college she no longer performs in public... she now lives in a small village and works as a luthier repairing and crafting violins and cellos, and only playing for herself... Grace is also madly devoted and in love with a married man named David... David insists he is in a loveless marriage and that he will leave his wife and marry Grace when his kids are grown... but the truth comes out after David saves the life of a woman on the metro and gets a bit of celebrity.... Grace is heartbroken, what will she do now?
Ugh! David was such a slimeball! I never liked him and I never could see what Grace saw in him? This was the point in the book I wanted to throw my Kindle across the room, I wanted to jump through the pages and smack some sense into Grace, she was worth so much more than this jerk! To be completely honest this part of the story did not appeal to me at all, I am not a fan of cheating, and I could not see a good result.... but after I finish the book I understood why this was included, we needed to see how far Grace had come, how much she had grown!
The highlight of the story was the friendship that Grace had with both Mr. Williams and Nadia... mr. Williams is in his 80s and Nadia is a teenager, a more unlikely trio you could not find... but what a beautiful friendship these three formed, pulling Grace from the ashes of heartbreak and filling her life with love and music... The book really turned from what I thought was a bummer into a delightful uplifting story full of the most amazing characters! I do have to say though Nadia was my absolute favorite, she was just so delightful and insightful, I just Love her! In fact I’d love to see a story about her in her 20s!
A delightful feel good story that will put a big smile on your face, some hope in your heart, and an urge to play the cello! Absolutely recommend!
*** many thanks to Touchstone for my copy of this book ***
If you put Paris on a book, it'll catch my eye every time, especially if the cover is as charming as this one. That was enough for me to add this to my reading list and enter the giveaway, but soon after, I was contacted by a representative of the publisher, offering me a copy of "Goodbye, Paris." If it hadn't been for the speed and ease in which I had received this, I would have done a little research and most likely deleted it, thinking it was just another love story--not my genre of choice, but this book turned out to be so much more.
In what I've observed to be a trend in the past several years, books are becoming larger and longer. It appears that some authors tend to use a lot of filler, which ruins what otherwise could have been a notable read. In this talented author's debut novel, she successfully gives the reader a look at one woman's life from childhood to present; filled with unique, lovable characters that you'd gladly welcome into your own world; scenes and actions so vividly written that they seem to appear before your eyes; and a storyline filled with a myriad of experiences and emotions in 277 pages. I thoroughly enjoyed this little gem of a book--such a welcome change to my usual reading choices.
I'd like to thank Isabel DaSilva and Touchstone Books for a copy of "Goodbye, Paris," and to say, "Hello, Anstey Harris. I thoroughly enjoyed your delightfully refreshing 'story of love' and very much look forward to reading your next book."
However It wasn’t exactly realistic. A 40 year old being best friends with a 17 year old.. owning a niche music shop but being able to travel to Paris on a whim constantly. Two extremely forgiving and supportive friends who would do almost anything for her.
Grace Atherton’s passion for music was more than obvious when people listened to her playing the cello. Her music career was about to go ahead that was until a traumatic event occurred in her music collage and since then she hasn’t been able to play publicly. Since that day, Grace has lived a quiet life working in her violin shop where she repairs instruments.
David came into Grace’s life when she was at her worst he helped her through this tough time and quickly their friendship turned into a relationship, but it was a relationship that should never have started as too many people could and would get hurt. And so one day Grace discovers all is not as it seems with David and Grace is left devastated just when she thought her life and her music career were starting to get back on track.
This book had me fascinated from the start and I found the description about the cello quite interesting. As for the characters, Grace and David I became very annoyed with them and at certain parts, throughout this story I just wanted to shake each of them as they were making me so furious. I so wanted them to stop what they were doing not only to themselves, but to those that were close to them. When an author can stir up these emotions in a reader, you know they have written a really great book. And trust me this really was a great book one in which I thoroughly enjoyed and have no hesitation in recommending.
With thanks to Simon and Schuster Australia for my copy to read a review.
The shy and somewhat recluse Grace Atherton is a luthier, who loves to make and repair string instruments. She herself is an accomplished cello player, not that anyone close to her has heard her play. Not even her lover of eight years, the charming David, who happens to have a wife and kids in Paris. Grace is always ready to drop whatever she's doing to meet with David whenever and wherever he's available. The crumbs he's offering are delicious. He was in many ways almost perfect - good-looking, generous, knew her very well and made her feel special. When David commits a bravery act, their lives turn upside down. It appears things were not as they seemed. Grace's devastated.
Luckily, she has two unlikely friends to help her through her heartbreak: an eighty-something year old gentleman, who comes by her shop for coffee and a chat and her spirited, angst-ridden teenage assistant, who's becoming a very good violin player herself.
While the story itself has been done before, what made it special, for me anyway, were all the details about playing music, instrument making, Cremona and its string instrument awards. (I looked it up, it's quite interesting).
This could be summed up as when life gives you broken string instruments, make a winning cello.
Many thanks to Simon & Schuster Australia for sending me a copy of this beautiful book. I love the cover.
I had to DNF this one about a third of the way through. Grace is in a bad relationship, and all she does is constantly talk about what will happen when the day comes, and they can truly be together (a day that the reader can see won't come). I couldn't decide whether to be super irritated or feel very very sorry for her. Either way it was painful.
A compelling story with lovable characters and complex situations.
Grace has been in a relationship with David for eight years. They were on the Paris Metro when David saves the life of a woman and then he leaves the scene soon after with Grace. The public is eager to learn the savior's identity and a media hunt for David ensues with a viral video and popular hashtag trending on twitter #herósmystère or #heromystery he is soon found.
Dark secrets are revealed once the media shares details of David’s life that shattered the people around him.
The novel is about relationships, healing, and ultimately blooming. I enjoyed it and recommend 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.
Musical - literally - and highly predictable, but still an enjoyable story.
Plot: Grace is in love with David. Things get complicated. Grace seeks solace in her instrument-making, and the company of a headstrong teenager and an elderly man. There is intermittent David-drama.
The drama level is pretty high here, and even though I basically predicted everything, it still caught my breath to actually read the way it all played out. It's lucky there are so few characters because they all have their own stories and we're given enough detail and time to get attached. I definitely got attached. Not so much to Grace, who annoyed me a lot, or David, who is a scumbag who calls Grace 'darling' and 'sweetie' and other equally eye-roll-worthy names waaaaaay too many times, but mostly to Fiery Nadia and Nice Guy Mr Williams. These two are the real MVPs.
So the story is sweet and dramatic; highly predictable but nevertheless enjoyable.
The writing is unique. I am on the fence. It's beautiful and elegant, and contains some really beautiful phrases, but it's also full of an insane amount of detail regarding music and instruments and honestly, it was pretty much lost on me. I appreciate the attempts to describe, but I basically had no clue what I was reading. Oh well.
I was also incredibly bothered by how many times the author used LITERALLY (hence my cheeky opening line) because it was overused and, in some cases, incorrect. This is one of my pet hates.
I was torn between 3 and 4 stars for this one but I nudged it up thanks to my love of everything French and how this book catered to it. I loved reliving my own memories as the author described places I myself have been. Ah, such fond memories.
If you're looking for a sweet little contemporary with elegant language, attention to detail and cosy settings, this is the book for you. It's quite lovely, and I'd recommend for an easy, light-hearted page-turner.
Tell me if you've heard this one before: a shy, unworldly woman discovers her lover is a cad and finds herself with the help of feisty friends who dispenses pearls of wisdom and has all the time in the world to lend a hand?
Sounds familiar, right?
Goodbye, Paris is worse.
** Spoilers ahead **
Grace is a 40 year old delusional, silly woman who has been having an affair with a married man, David, for eight years. She is just waiting for him to leave his wife and children.
They meet for secret rendezvous in Paris when they can and when she's not restoring and repairing violins, she imagines the children she will have with this adultering dick and titters and preens about how generous he is, how she can't believe he loves her, blah blah blah.
Will someone gouge my ears out for me, please? Thanks.
When David's wife, an Amal Clooney doppelgänger, reveals to Grace in an email that Grace ain't the only chick in her philandering husband's life, Grace snaps and her burst of rage jeopardizes her chance at taking part in a renowned talent competition for craftsmen like her.
But do not fear, she has those feisty friends I was telling you about, in the form of an octogenarian named Mr. Williams and a brash, young woman and shop assistant, Nadia.
With their assistance and support, she turns her life around and finds the strength to move on with her life.
I can't even begin to tell you how much I hated Grace.
For a moment, I wondered if she might be autistic or mentally incapacitated in some way, if only to explain how a woman in her 40s would throw her life away for a married man and waste 8 years with him.
But I knew such a comparison was a disservice to those suffering with autism.
It turned out that Grace is just an introvert who lived a sheltered life who needs a man to feel special.
Maybe its because her old boyfriend cheated on her with her former BFF just when she was kicked out of music college and David made her feel different.
Never mind that Grace is different and special; she's a gifted cellist and is an incredible craftswoman restoring stringed instruments yet her life revolves around David and wallowing in the past; the terrible treatment she suffered at the hands of her Whiplash-like mentor in music college that ended her career before it even began.
The recap of Grace and David's first encounter was unremarkable but attributed to kismet or some nonsense like that, which I never felt.
All I felt was how Grace was dependent on David because his attention bolstered her self esteem and self worth. Sad mostly because she's not the first woman to belong in this category, and not the last, I'm sure.
The writing isn't bad but the dialogue is terrible especially when David is speaking to Grace; his constant infantilizing of her name to Gracie, repeatedly calling her darling and sweet girl just sounds creepy, as if he is speaking to someone much younger.
I don't mind sweet talk but not in every sentence. Overdo it much?
Do men really talk like this? Or is it because he lives in France? You know what? Who cares.
The ending is SOOO happy ever after; Grace's instrument wins and David sends her an engagement ring (seriously!) and promises to change, Mr. Williams hooks up with an old boyfriend (yay!) and sublets his home to Nadia, who is with child (gasp! No, not really because I don't care).
Everybody but the adultering douche wins. The end to another cliche story stuffed with typical chick lit tropes.
*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com 4.5 stars ‘What we know as a cello is actually called a violoncello hence the grammatical shortening to ‘cello’. It is part of the violin family, whereas a double bass is, technically, part of the viol family.’
The cello, the definition of this musical instrument precedes the opening chapter of the novel The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton. It is important to have a good grasp of this instrument as it is so pertinent to this book’s narrative. The cello also makes and breaks Grace, the central protagonist of Anstey Harris’ debut, The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton.
For Grace Atherton life revolves around her violin shop where she both repairs and creates her own instruments. She balances her life around David, her love, spending time in Paris with him over their eight year relationship. It only takes one chance act to alter the life Grace has built for herself. As a result of this act, her love for David, her music and her life, including long buried secrets all surface. With the support from some unlikely allies, Grace’s life takes a whole different turn. She learns to embrace what she has and she has hopes for the future, after a trail of despair. The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton is a testimony to love, life, friendship and music.
The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton has been doing the rounds on the Australian book blogging sphere, so I just had to check out what all the fuss was about! The glowing reviews were completely justified, this is a magical and beautiful novel. It is raw, emotional, contemplative and poised. For a debut novel I was as surprised as I was impressed.
Initially, the situation the main character Grace is in didn’t sit too well with me. There is infidelity involved and I won’t go much further as I do not wish to spoil any of the plot. I will say that Grace did earn my sympathies. I felt like she was a victim of a man who loved too much and in the wrong way. Grace is such a beautiful character, her sweet nature sings from the pages of the novel and all the way through you will be rooting for her to gain the upper hand over her life! Harris does an equally good job with her supporting cast. From David, Grace’s love, through to friends Nadia and Mr Williams, each has been etched out to perfection. These are genuine people facing real life situations. I am sure many will be able to relate.
There are many themes that swirl around this involving novel. Infidelity, betrayal and loss form the crux of the novel. This is also a novel about self doubt, missed opportunities and gaining the upper hand over your life. Friendship, love and unconditional support underlines the novel. I would consider The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton to be a coming of age story, of a mature protagonist. This was refreshing to read! Harris approaches each of these key themes with a sense of insight and a rare talent for a first time writer.
I really wished I had a better appreciation for classical music, I certainly didn’t have an aptitude for it in my high school studies! However, The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton has renewed my interest and appreciation for the musical world. I really appreciated learning about Grace’s craft as a gifted cellist. If you are well versed on the musical front, a playlist contained at the back of this novel will be sure to satisfy, along with the many musical elements contained in this beautiful novel.
My reading tastes are often directed towards Paris set or French themed books, they are by far my favourite books to read. So you can imagine my delight as a self confessed Francophile when I first spied this cover, which features a ribbon formed Eiffel Tower. It is so elegant. The Parisian references sprawl through The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton. Much of the book is situated in the city of love. I just adored the Paris interludes, they were by far my favourite aspects of this special novel.
‘I love this walk, everything about it. I love the gritty sand surface of the paths through the Champs de Mars, I love the Peace Memorial and its etched glass panels; most of all I love the way the Eiffel Tower looms over everything, reducing us all to the specks of dust we are, making us tiny and uniform as ants. There’s no avoiding the history of Paris, nothing disguises or hides it and nothing tries to’.
The prose is dignified, the characters a joy to oversee, the themes resonating and the setting, it is simply divine. This one is a keeper. One to hold tight. The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton, highly recommended.
‘I hope Paris can forgive me; I know it will. Paris, more than any other city in the world, knows about love’
Grace Atherton’s life is dedicated to music and owns a shop that repairs violins. She was on the cusp of being the greatest cello player but something happened at college and since then she has not being able to play the cello publicly.
David is Grace’s love of her life, she saviours every moment they spend together, but theirs is a relationship that needs to be kept secret as it will hurt other people and herself.
When David saves someone’s life little does he know the press will want to find out who the hero of the hour is and any secret he has will be revealed by his act of kindness.
When Grace hits rock bottom, it’s only her friend Nadia and customer Mr Williams who sweep in to care for her. This book beautifully tells the story of friendship, heartache and learning to forgive and start life again.
Loved reading about the beauty of music. I have never played a musical instrument and felt very jealous by the end of this book at the passion and emotion one can feel whilst playing.
The characters are very life like, loved their separate stories and how 3 very different people become friends that help each other with their own heartache and troubles.
A beautifully written book that is charming and heartwarming.
Thank you to Netgalley for my copy in exchange for a review.
“We are an engine, the three of us, and we play with exactness, precision. We play like we are making a pact with the devil. We run through the music three times, stretching out the tune because we can’t bear to hear it end. Somehow, on the last note of the third turn around, we all stop. The silence is deafening. It feels like smoke... Nadia is grinning like a demon. We are untidy, sweaty. We are all excited and aflame.”
The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton (also published as Goodbye, Paris) is the second novel by prize-winning British teacher, lecturer and author, Anstey Harris. When she is in Kent, Grace Atherton is a maker and restorer of string instruments: violins, violas, ‘cellos and double basses. She plays the ‘cello, but only in private: it relaxes, calms, heals and restores her. And when David visits, she’s his lover. In Paris, her time is exclusively David’s. But Grace is also the other woman, because in Strasbourg, David Hewitt has a wife and three children.
David and his wife have an agreement, and they’re staying together for the children. Grace patiently waits for the day she and David can be together and start their own family. But one fateful night, as David and Grace wait on a Metro platform, an unexpected event puts them in the social media spotlight, with all of France is looking for the mystery hero that David has become, and suddenly, their relationship is under threat. Just then, Grace has no idea how much she is going to need the friendship and support of her casual shop assistant, Nadia, and her long-time customer, the dapper Mr Williams.
Against a background of fascinating detail about the classical music world in general, and the making of string instruments, in particular, Harris gives the reader a wonderful story of love and betrayal, of friendship and loyalty, of dedication and abuse. With her beautiful descriptive prose, she easily captures small town Kent, Paris and Cremona. Her love of classical music and the instruments that make it is apparent on every page, and their beauty is perfectly depicted.
The characters that populate the tale are easily believable and, mostly, appealing, and their reactions to what occurs in their lives are generally quite credible. Even before the (unsurprising) truth is revealed about David, readers will be wondering if Grace is incredibly naïve, or whether David is an accomplished liar. But it is easy to see how a vulnerable Grace falls so deeply in love with this man. There’s certainly a moment where Grace seems about to weaken, and the reader will be mentally urging her to keep her resolve. A heart-warming read from a talented author. This unbiased review is from a copy provided by Simon and Schuster Australia
To paraphrase Forrest Gump, books are sometimes like a box of chocolates—you never know what you’re going to get.
From the brief synopsis I read about Goodbye, Paris, I had pegged it as typical chick lit: interesting woman character, personal growth journey, woman hits bottom and rebounds, ends up knowing more about herself.
And yes, the structure is all there. BUT. And this is a big BUT. Anstey Harris can write and this story strains at its structure and ends up becoming absorbing and touching and downright good. Part of it, I think, is the character herself—Grace, a talented cellist who suffers from PTSD after a sadistic professor destroys her confidence. She now owns her own violin shop—she crafts cellos—and she’s good at what she does. The author knows her stuff when it comes to the music world and that world comes alive.
The other main differentiator is Grace’s love affair with David—a married man whom she meets on a regular basis in Paris. Anyone who has ever been under the spell of a narcissist will understand what Grace has opened herself up to. The surprises in that relationship keep coming, even when the reader believes she has figured it all out.
Add in a few more characters—the nuanced portrayal of Grace’s teenage store assistant Nadia and her friendship with an elderly elegant gentleman Mr. Williams—and a fascinating world has been created. Although there is a little too much predictability in the ending for my taste, this is a fun ride and a great summer read that I will be recommending to friends. Thanks to the publisher, Touchstone, for allowing me to be an early reader in exchange for an honest review.
received this via Goodreads Giveaways in exchange for an honest review. 😊 ---
I am not really sure what to say about this book. On one hand, I did enjoy the story but on the other hand, it didn't hit me as deeply as I wanted it to.
I was side-eyeing Grace and David a lot during the first part of this (David more than Grace but still). Without saying too much, I've seen the song and dance before in books/tv shows/movies so I wasn't really surprised at what happened but I did want to kick his behind at a certain point.. for multiple reasons.
Mr. Williams.. loved him!:) Every time he came on the scene, it never failed to bring a smile to my face. Such a good kind soul:).
Nadia: I didn't feel attached to her for awhile but she slowly clawed her way in and grew on me. She had her share of problems but still soldiered on.
The friendship these three had with each other touched my heart:).
I was proud of Grace for getting back on her feet and . She kept herself going and didn't give up.
Why didn't this hit me more in the feels? I can't pinpoint it exactly.. (don't you hate when that happens?) It was more an overall feeling of disconnected-ness throughout.
I will revisit this again one day and see if I still feel the same (some books grow on you more with a second read).
Three and a half stars. Grace Atherton runs a violin shop, making and repairing stringed instruments. Her own favourite instrument is the cello, although she never plays in public after being thrown out of music school years before. The cello is simply for her own enjoyment. Grace also has a long standing affair with David that involves interludes in Paris. Whenever David is available Grace tends to drop all other commitments to be with him. From the start of their relationship Grace has known he is married with children and he does not want the children upset by their affair. Nadia, a teenage girl who works in Grace’s shop is also a talented musician with a difficult family life. The other main character is Mr Williams, a valued customer for whom Grace is going to refurbish a violin that belonged to a special person in his life. When a tragic accident is averted, David becomes a hero in the world’s eyes. But that action has far reaching consequences. I had mixed feelings about this book initially. As far as I could see David was first, foremost and always a sleaze ball out for his own self interests. His actions were constantly at odds with his protestations of love. I failed to see how Grace was could be so gullible as to swallow his repeated excuses and lies and to continue to build her life around him. Even though I am not a classical music fan, I really liked the emphasis on music and restoring the instruments. That is all fascinating. I also really liked the friendship that evolves with Grace, Nadia and Mr Williams. While Nadia is an interesting and complex character, I got tired of the use of the f word, largely but not always, from Nadia and David. The second half of the book became very engaging though the ending seemed a little fanciful. All in all, this was an intriguing read and I was glad I read it. I’ll be interested to see what this author writes next. Thanks to Simon & Schuster for my ARC to read and review.
It's difficult to know what to say about this book. Calling a spade a spade I just didn't really like the central character. I loved Grace's assistant and the old man who comes into her shop but that's about it. It's well written and there are some good moments but the writing wasn't good enough on its own and the moments were too few and far in between.
Many thanks to Touchstone for providing me with a review copy of this book
I really wanted to love this book, but it fell a little flat for me. I was so annoyed and frustrated by Grace and her relationship with David and I kept waiting for something big to happen that never really did. I did love Mr. Williams and how he cared for her, but that was really it. I definitely seem to be in the minority, so please take this with a grain of salt!