French Coast by Anita Hughes
Published by St. Martin’s Griffin
Publish Date: April 7, 2015
Source: Book – Publisher
Find it here: Goodreads / Amazon
Serena has the job she’s always dreamed of and Chase, the man her heart never dared to. As a new editor at Vogue, she bags the biggest interview of the year with Yvette Renault, the infamous former editor of French Vogue, in The Carlton-InterContinental Hotel during the Cannes Film Festival. She eagerly jets off to France while Chase stays home, working with her father, a former senator, on his upcoming mayoral campaign.
Everything feels unbelievably perfect…until it doesn’t. The hotel loses her reservation hours before her big interview. Serena fears that she’ll have to go home without her story, but then she meets Zoe, a quirky young woman staying in the suite below Yvette’s who invites Serena to stay with her. Serena is grateful for her mysterious roommate’s generosity, but it seems that there’s more to her story than meets the eye. To make matters worse, soon after arriving in Cannes, Serena learns a shocking secret about her parents’ marriage, and it isn’t long before she begins to question her own relationship.With her deadline looming and pressure mounting, Serena will have to use her investigative journalism skills, new friendships, and a little luck to get her life and love back on track. Fast paced and impeccably written, French Coast will draw readers in to the intoxicating world of the Cote D’Azur. Hughes’ beautiful prose and sense imagery bring the food, fashion, and feel of the ocean to life in this audacious new novel. (Goodreads)
My Thoughts: Serena has a great job at Vogue magazine and the assignment of a lifetime: she’s been given the opportunity to travel to France to interview Yvette Renault, former editor of French Vogue Magazine. Serena will be staying at the exquisitely fashionable Carlton InterContintental Hotel in Cannes while meeting with Yvette while her new fiance remains at home in San Francisco, and they will be announcing their upcoming engagement soon. Serena’s career is important to her, her fiance Chase is supportive, and Serena is looking forward to/counting on her mother helping her plan her wedding while she interviews Yvette, someone she greatly admires. Things are looking pretty great for Serena until strange details about Serena’s family begin to pop up here and there, which makes life a little bit confusing for her. She soldiers on, though, and as she ponders over all of this new information, she begins to question much about her upbringing and also what she really wants for her future.
I loved this book. I love Serena. I was looking for a fun escape and that’s exactly what I got when I picked up French Coast by Anita Hughes. I was completely immersed into the world of high fashion, exquisite French cuisine, and life on the French Riviera. Since I have never visited this part of the world nor have I experienced the life of a magazine editor, I found my escape into Serena’s shoes quite enjoyable.
Serena is a fashion editor; fashion is what she loves. She is a highly fashionable character herself, paying particular attention to what she wears and also paying attention to the fashion tastes of other people she interacts with. I enjoyed the way great fashion houses and labels were mentioned as Serena’s clothes and accessories were described, along with the outfits of other characters — not only did it help me paint the pictures of the characters, I think it gave the book a little extra something in the way of fun and imagery. Also, attention is given to describing food in the story, and it is mouth-watering. All of the ‘describing’ in this story served to make it more lovely in my mind, like I was traveling there myself.
It made me want to go there, actually. Like, pack a suitcase and hop a plane, get there now.
I’ve mentioned that Serena was in Cannes for an exclusive interview, and the interview scenes are some of my favorite. It is in these scenes that we learn Yvette Renault’s backstory, and she has had a fascinating life. I told you that I love Serena, but I adore Yvette because hello there, strong woman. Hers is a story-within-a-story because her memoir is being written. Yvette adds so much to this book – some of it I expected, and some was a surprise to me!
Yvette’s story is one of perseverance even through disappointment, and also resilience. And strength. And she was able to share these things with Serena. LOVED THIS.
In the story synopsis, we learn that some crazy things happen to Serena while she interviews Yvette, over the course of her few weeks in Cannes: she meets interesting people that change her life, she finds out big family secrets, etc. These tidbits are revealed slowly over time, and I was excited to see how everything would eventually unfold. For a while, it seemed like things were getting a little crazy for Serena, like maybe the story was getting a little out of control, but everything worked out in the end. I’ll admit that I was holding my breath for Serena. I knew how I wanted things to end, but I wasn’t sure how it would actually come together until all was said and done.
It was thrilling to be kept in such suspense toward the end, particularly since I wanted so much for the story’s main character. I think I was so enamored by the setting and the characters to try to look ahead and anticipate the ending? I loved it that way, being caught up in the where and the who. As things unfolded and connections began to be made, my eyes may have gotten a little large at one point (aka side-eyes) and my mouth may have dropped open at how one or two things turned out. I love this about reading-to-escape.
You guys, I grew to feel really strongly for Serena and I was rooting so hard for her after things her life had gotten a little messy. It would have been so easy for her to pack up and go home, to leave the interview and go back to the States and work though the junk taking place there. But NO, no she didn’t, because it wasn’t her junk to work out! I love Serena’s resilience. I love the way she kept to what she was doing, she kept on task because that kept her centered and feeling alive while her world was going crazy, even as one little crappy thing turned into two little crappy things, etc. By the end of the book, things did wrap up a bit neatly, but I didn’t mind at all. I’m not sure what this entire situation would look if it played out in real life, but this isn’treal life, this is fiction, and doggone it, I liked it.
Ultimately, I think French Coast by Anita Hughes is a book to grab for enjoyment and escape. Also, maybe if you have a little wanderlust, because it absolutely drops you off on the coast of France. The setting feels beautiful, the descriptions are vivid and lend to great imagery, and the story makes it easy to get lost for a few hours. Take this one to the pool or the beach, or just sit outside on the porch for a while.
I recommend French Coast by Anita Hughes to readers that enjoy great settings, stories-within-stories, and stories about strong, resilient women.
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