In brief: Anouk hides in her antique shop, burned by a love affair turned toxic. A stranger in town offers promise, but is there a link with a number of antique thefts?
The good: Anouk and her family are lovely, from scatty Lilou to her mum on the run.
The not-so-good: Joshua, Anouk’s ex is horrible! I wanted to reach into the book and slap him.
Why I chose it: I loved The Little Bookshop on the Seine, so jumped into this one right away.
Publisher: Carina UK
Setting: Paris, under the shadow of the Eiffel Tower
My rating: 9 out of 10
Rebecca Raisin’s books are always a great pick me up. Over a fortnight I’ve devoured two of her books, while my working life has been crazy busy. But on opening her novels, I can let work and stress slip away to envelope myself in the beautiful world of Paris in the spring and summer.
We met Anouk briefly in The Little Bookshop on the Seine, as Oceane’s friend but now it’s time for her to tell her story. We see Oceane very briefly in this story (but not Sarah) and are introduced to characters who I think will be the future of further books (hello Vivienne and your family’s perfumerie). It’s fine to read this book as a standalone – it won’t give away any secrets and doesn’t involve any background knowledge. But let’s talk about Anouk. She’s a graceful character, something out of a time gone by (she favours retro clothes and hairstyles topped off with a good red lipstick). She adores her antiques, looking for items she can sell to a loving home who will appreciate the history. You can probably tell that she’s a bit of a softie! But Anouk is heavily emotionally scarred by her previous relationship with the dastardly Joshua, a good for nothing who conned her out of some of her most prized possessions. Now she retreats to her apartment and talks to her soup bowl to hide her pain.
Anouk’s carefully ordered life is about to fall away with the entry of a number of new people in her life. Her sister brings her new boyfriend to Anouk’s to couch surf, disrupting the peace. The handsome Tristan Black appears on the scene, saving Anouk from another fallout with Joshua. Tristan’s gorgeous, American and seems to be truly sweet…but is his arrival in Paris co-incidental, or is it linked to a number of antique thefts?
With every novel, Rebecca Raisin’s skills increase exponentially. This story has a touch of the comic (Anouk and Madame’s stakeouts are hilarious) but also adds mystery and suspense. I had no idea who the thief was until he was caught! I loved the way Tristan and Anouk had conversations which were at cross-purposes. They were funny, yet you could read between the lines and see how deeply they cared for each other. The unravelling of the mystery and why the characters acted the way they did were also brilliant. On reflection, I could see the little hints dropped here and there.
The supporting characters in this story are also a riot. I loved Lilou, Anouk’s polar opposite sister. Where Anouk is careful and methodical, Lilou throws caution to the wind and goes wherever the flow takes her. While she appeared immature at first, she really grew on me as it was revealed she wasn’t empty headed after all. Their maman, was also a fun distraction from the mystery. She’s dramatic and after a change in her life – a big one! The scene where Anouk comes home to find a group of chefs spellbound by her mother was laugh out loud funny due to Anouk’s reaction (but gave great girl power to their mum)!
The whole story is infused with a sparkle and a deep affection for Paris, from the familiar sights to the hidden gems down narrow cobblestone streets. Rebecca Raisin has translates the essence of a city on to the page and done it skilfully. Francophiles will simply adore The Little Antique Shop under the Eiffel Tower.