By: Isabelle Lafleche
Format/Source: Paperback; won a copy from HarperCollinsCA via Twitter
When chic Parisian lawyer Catherine Lambert lands her dream job as intellectual property director for Christian Dior, she is on top of the world. She’s prepared to embark on the ride of her life in the world of fashion, fighting high-profile legal battles against international counterfeiters. She’ll also be reunited with colleague-turned-boyfriend Antoine in her beloved hometown.
But Catherine’s visions of front-row seats at the couture shows and strolling the Champs-Élysées hand in hand with the love of her life are soon displaced by the realities of dingy police vans and threatening anonymous phone calls. The code of ethics that she knew from mergers and acquisitions does not seem to apply in the nefarious counterfeiting underworld, and Catherine finds her life turned upside-down by surprise meetings in dark alleys and an unexpected degree of notoriety among the criminal element. Will Catherine and her loyal assistant, Rikash, manage to outsmart even the most crooked of characters and come out on top?
I first heard of this novel earlier this year on GoodReads and it sounded both interesting (main character works as a lawyer/intellectual property director for a major luxury fashion company? Colour me intrigued), intriguing (facing international counterfeiters? Definitely don’t read about those on a daily basis) and fun (Paris, haute couture, totally there!). I won a paperback copy of this novel from HarperCollinsCA during the summer and after reading a number of serious titles recently, I needed a change of pace. Contains some spoilers ahead!
This book is part of the Books on France Reading Challenge 2013 that I am participating in.
J’Adore Paris is just such a fun novel to read. I agree with whoever it was who said that this novel is like drinking champagne (I think it was another author but the book’s nowhere near me at the moment for me to double-check this); the fashion and Parisian culture just seems so close to the reader, you could practically just reach out and touch the cashmere, taste the macarons, sip all that wine. Catherine in a way is really living the life, from her posh apartment that she shares with her gorgeous and smart boyfriend to the Dior outfits and the amazing restaurants and eateries across the City of Lights (once again, I regret not being able to properly eat out while I was in Paris, but I digress).
Of course, her job isn’t straight-up courtroom appearances, legal paperwork, dressing up fabulously and checking out various Dior events; she and her assistant quickly learn that a lot of their work also includes facing counterfeits on the ground, joining the police and PIs on raids and even becoming a target of criminals along the way via stalkers, threatening phone calls and emails. It was interesting to read about the counterfeiting underworld and its consequences, how it affects the company and the economy. I haven’t read novels or watched shows that touch on this issue and it’s quite a contemporary issue that firms face these days. Soon Catherine’s life becomes pretty crazy hectic as she has to deal with counterfeit criminals, keeping on top of things at Dior (especially as she is still a new member of the team), balancing a healthy home life with her relationship with Antoine and facing the blowback from events at her previous firm and an ex-boyfriend facing jail time.
The reader doesn’t have to have read the previous novel, J’Adore New York, in order to understand Catherine’s backstory and her ex-boyfriend’s trial; over the course of the novel the narrative explains everything quite nicely so there wasn’t a moment where I was feeling confused about events from the past. And the reader immediately gets Catherine’s character so it’s quite easy to just ease into the story and enjoy the setting. The author does a wonderful job in balacning the glamour of the job with the serious business of the position that Catherine and Rikash hold. Not everything is fun and games and there are moments here and there where things get even pretty dangerous.
I enjoyed the character interaction, especially between Catherine and Rikash. Rikash is such a hilarious character, he had some of the best lines in the novel and you can tell that he really is just living it up in Paris and working at Dior. He’s also such a good friend to Catherine, looking out for her. I just wished we had a few more instances where we see Rikash at his best while working; you hear about it from Catherine and from the scenes we did get he is certainly very resourceful and capable, but I guess as a new reader to Catherine’s world, I’m not as familiar with Rikash’s work side.
The only part about this novel that I found kind of weird was Catherine and Antoine’s argument about the eShop case. It felt like a non-issue for them to be arguing for such a long period of time over. I totally understood why Catherine didn’t want to recommend Antoine, trying to separate her personal life from her professional life, but for Antoine to keep asking about it and getting really huffy about it made it feel like he wanted to use Catherine to get the really good cases from Dior. It felt awkward, especially as I’ve come to understand from Catherine and other characters that Antoine that Antoine puts her needs and her first before his own needs. Maybe I’m missing something about the nature of the argument but I felt it didn’t have to go on as long as it did.
Overall, I enjoyed reading J’Adore Paris, it was the type of novel I needed right now. I think the author did a wonderful job in balancing the glitz and the fun with the serious issue of international counterfeiting as well as balancing the various issues and storylines intersecting in Catherine’s life. I highly recommend this novel for anyone looking for a light novel set in the City of Lights.