From glittering Manhattan to moonlit Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. Until they are forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever. Revisiting beloved couples Anna and Etienne and Lola and Cricket, this sweeping finale will charm fans old and new.
One rainy day in New York Isla and Josh meet in a cafe. They know each other from school but they’ve hardly spoken before, despite the fact Isla has had a crush on Josh for a long time. But today Isla is high on pain killers after having her wisdom teeth extracted so she’s prepared to be confidant and flirty in ways she wouldn’t have dreamt of doing otherwise. They immediately have chemistry together and embark on a whirlwind romance when they return to their Parisian school in the autumn.
I enjoyed this book very much. It made me smile on a rainy day. The characters are all lovely in their own way. I loved Josh, the handsome and romantic artist. His big art project is one of my favourite elements of the novel because it’s evolution reflects his character development in relation to how he thinks of himself and his relationship with his parents and Isla. I loved Kurt, Isla’s best friend since before Isla even knew what a friend was, who is always there to help Isla find the Right Way. I loved Hattie, the sharp-witted little sister whose relationship with Isla matures throughout the novel (I love reading about sisters, I don’t have any of my own but Isla and the Happily Ever After made me wish I did).
When it came to Isla I felt a lot of empathy towards her. She’s clever, quiet and doesn’t like having people pay her too much attention. Isla’s journey in the novel is about learning that she is worth being loved and that it’s okay to take risks, sometimes they work out and sometimes they don’t but you’ll never know if you don’t try.
One of the risks Isla is learning to open up to are adventures. She reads books about adventures all the time but is nervous about going on adventures in real life. One of the things I loved about this novel was the adventure it took me on. New York, Paris and Barcelona all come vividly alive on the page. After reading this book I want to go to Point Zéro. I want to be in Paris on Nuit Blanche, go to Park Güell in Barcellona and sit in a cafe in New York and meet a romantic artist.
I haven’t read the other companion novels (Anna and the French Kiss &Lola and the Boy Next Door) but in a way I’m glad I didn’t, although I’m sure the cameo those characters made would have come across much sweeter if I had. But by not knowing much about them I was put in the same position as Isla. Isla has spent much of her time at school as an outsider to Josh’s friendship with St. Clair and co.. The seperation between that part of Josh’s life and the part of his life that includes her is one of the hurdles Isla has to tackle in the novel. She’s seen these people at school but she doesn’t really know them and this is at times frustrating to her because they are so important to Josh. I look forward to getting to know these side characters better when I read their stories which has a kind of symmetry with the way I’m sure Josh will fill Isla in on some stories about Anna, Meredith and St. Clair, and how they will both (I’m sure) get to know Lola and Cricket in the future outside of the boundaries of the stories Perkins books tell us.
I’m really glad I picked this novel up. It’s a light-hearted story about love that makes you want to smile, and it has a good message at it’s heart.
Another thing: I adore the cover, it’s beautiful! I also love the rose detail at the start of each chapter.