A smart, obsessive debut novel about a young woman studying abroad who becomes caught up in a seductive French world–and a complex web of love and lust.
When thirty-year-old Brooke Thompson unexpectedly runs into a man from her past, she’s plunged headlong into memories she’s long tried to forget about the year she spent in France following a disastrous affair with a professor.
As a newly arrived exchange student in the picturesque city of Nantes, young Brooke develops a deep and complicated friendship with Sophie, a fellow American and stunning blonde, whose golden girl façade hides a precarious emotional fragility. Sophie and Brooke soon become inseparable and find themselves intoxicated by their new surroundings–and each other.
But their lives are forever changed when they meet a sly, stylish French student, Veronique, and her impossibly sexy older cousin, Alex. The cousins draw Sophie and Brooke into an irresistible world of art, money, decadence, and ultimately, a disastrous love triangle that consumes them both. And of the two of them, only one will make it home.
This debut by Andrea Dunlop is a fascinating tale of friendship, first love and nostalgia. The three main protagonists – Brooke, Sophie and Alex – are all compelling and complex characters. We first meet the narrator Brooke when she runs into someone from her past. Alex is now a well-known photographer and he played a pivotal role in Brooke’s life when she was in college studying abroad in France.
Not quite fluent in French, Brooke finds herself struggling with the language when she first arrives. I loved how the author explored the tole that language plays in our grasp and understanding of the world around us.
“Je t’aime, darling, ‘I like you, I love you.’ What’s the difference? Imagine not needing different words for love and like, half the girls I knew practically lived and died by the nuance.”
The beautiful and gifted Sophie, another American student, befriends Brooke and they become very close. Brooke cannot understand what Sophie sees in her but Sophie is not quite the perfect, gifted student athlete that everyone assumes her to be. Both girls see their time in France as a way to break free of the confines of their lives back home in America.
They become fast friends with Veronique and soon, her sexy cousin Alex, a photographer. Their family, while very glamorous, is also very dysfunctional. The dynamics are fascinating and Brooke is swept off her feet by the bohemian and free-thinking Alex. He surrounds himself with gorgeous models and artists but insists that he can see beyond the superficial. Brooke feels beautiful when she is with him and with Sophie.
“…people see what they want to see. You will see what you want to see.”
Alex quite literally sweeps Brooke off her feet. His family owns homes all over France and the girls embark on a series of adventures with him and his family in Paris, Cap Ferrat and Nantes. If you have ever visited France, or just want to visit, this book will serve as a stunning travelogue to the magnificent country! I could almost hear the noises of Paris and feel the warmth of the Mediterranean sun. Brooke is entranced with Alex and quickly falls under his spell.
“It occurred to me that men like Alex knew how to make entrances, knew how to make you wait just long enough that you found yourself in touch with the exact despair you’d feel if they were to abandon you, then they’d show up to save the day a moment later and fill you with the joy of their presence, the relief of having been rescued from their absence.”
This story rockets to a stunning conclusion that was both inevitable and surprising all at once. It is a very powerful tale of friendship, love and second chances. The use of French throughout the book was perfect. I’m obsessed with this book! Perfectly written. And the cover is gorgeous! Did it make me painfully nostalgic for my twenties? Yes. I feel lost without these characters! A slow-build story that I won’t soon forget.
“But” – Sophie bit the edge of her iip as if she could hardly contain her smile – “it’s going to be different for us. We’re going to chose. We’ll make our own destiny.”
(With thanks to the author for a review copy.)
About the Author:
Andrea Dunlop lives in her hometown of Seattle, Washington, where she works as the social media and marketing director of Girl Friday Productions. Losing the Light is her first novel.
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