Synopsis (via Goodreads):
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.
Disclosure… spoiler alerts ahead!
Talk about a feel-good read! This is one of those delightful little novels you want to cozy up with under a blanket on a rainy day. Typically, I try and steer clear of love stories set in romantic, European cities because they’re normally either 1) enormously unrealistic or 2) unbearably cheesy… Goodbye, Paris neither of these.
The book begins at the end of a romantic evening out in Paris. Grace, our protagonist, has just left a concert with her very married, very long-distance boyfriend David when they witness a woman fall onto the tracks of the Paris Metro. Immediately, David comes to her rescue seconds before the train hits, but quickly flees the scene with Grace to avoid being caught by the press.
When Grace returns home to her cello shop in her quaint English town, everything seems normal. She resumes her quiet life in Kent, repairing and restoring string instruments while dreaming of the life David has promised her… after he leaves his wife and kids, of course.
Everything comes to a screeching halt when camera footage of David and Grace exiting the Metro station is leaked to the French press. Overnight, David becomes France’s own fascinating #heromystére. Despite his attempts to stay anonymous, David is ultimately found out and regardless of his heroic actions, is exposed as a cheating husband whose affairs span far more than just Grace.
At first, Grace is shattered. But, as the back of the book jacket says, “sometimes you must have your heart broken to make it whole.” With the support of her unusual friends combined with her passion for music and cello-making, Grace learns to love again.
This book was such a pleasant surprise to read. The settings are stunning; from Grace’s quiet, picturesque little village of Kent to the cobbled streets of historic Cremona, Italy, Harris’s descriptions will transport you to Europe, sans the overnight flight.
Setting aside, what I found most fascinating about Goodbye, Paris was it’s seamless ability to simplify the world of music and instrument-making. Prior to reading, I had no idea what a luthier was. Harris took a very dense and potentially boring subject and made it genuinely interesting–I found myself cursing my parents for not making me play an instrument by the time I finished reading. I appreciate books, especially fiction stories, that allow readers to learn something new. Goodbye Paris shines an attractive light on a niche readers might not normally explore.
I also love a love story that emphasizes self-love. By the end of the book, Grace goes from completely broken to utterly invincible. Her journey to healing is inspiring and proves that friendship can heal even the deepest wounds.