REVIEW: We’ll Always Have Paris by Sue Watson
Does first love deserve a second chance?
During her first week at art college, Rosie Jackson, almost seventeen, locks eyes with the charismatic Peter from across the room of their nude figure drawing class, and the course of her life is changed forever.
Now, on the cusp of sixty-five and recently widowed, Rosie is slowly coming to terms with a new future. And after a chance encounter with Peter forty-seven years later, she is brought back to that summer of 1968, when she gave her heart away to love, pain, and loss, and when she dared to dream boldly of a life in Paris. As Rosie and Peter pick up where they had left off, they both begin to wonder what if . . .
Told with warmth, wit, and humor, We’ll Always Have Paris is a moving and uplifting novel about two people giving love a second chance in later life—the choices they make, the lives they lead, and the love they share.
Dear Ms. Watson,
There aren’t too many romance books out there that focus on older couples so even though this one is a blend of romance and women’s fiction, I wanted to give it a go. Plus the cover is lovely.
It didn’t start quite where I thought it would. Rosie is dealing with the fact that her husband is dying. Married for over forty years and the parents of two daughters, they’ve had a good marriage though there are hints that it didn’t start as “the loves of their lives.” But then the blurb gave me that information so, what happened?
A year after Mike’s death, Rosie is finally getting back into life which includes the florist shop they owned. A job on a big society wedding unexpectedly brings Peter back into Rosie’s life but what will this do to her now? Her feelings for Peter jump start almost immediately and it appears that his for her have never died either. She’s available and he is too and it looks like Peter wants to get back into Rosie’s life. But does she want him after all this time and the changes in her life?
I liked Rosie from the start. She’s practical and down to earth. Her marriage with Mike might not have started with hearts and rainbows but as shown clearly by their actions, it’s grown into a deep and steady love. Her initial and then lingering grief is allowed time on page and feels realistic. Her daughters’ worries over her are touching even though there are occasional family dynamic spats.
But what about Rosie’s feelings for Peter? She frankly admits that he was the love of her young life but Something Happened that busted that. I was worried that the strength of their current feelings would just sweep all that under the rug but brava that Rosie stops to think. At first she isn’t even sure she wants to see him again and then she takes it slowly and carefully. She knows she needs the truth from Peter before she’ll even begin to think of a long term relationship.
Then there’s her family. One daughter balks at any change while the other is cautiously happy for her mother. In a way this gets annoying after a while as it drags on but it also forces Rosie to deal with the role she’s always had as the one who smooths things and tries to make people happy. Part of that was being a mother – something Rosie loves and wouldn’t give up for anything – but another part got handed down from her own mother with whom Rosie had a contentious relationship. As well as sorting her feelings for Peter, Rosie also knows she needs to shift her relationship with her daughters a little.
At first, I was happy for Rosie as Peter basically falls into adoration of her and as an older woman myself, the idea that the love of your life still thinks you’re hot at age sixty four is enticing. Rosie puts Peter through the ringer a time or two and must school him about her family commitments a time or three. They do finally talk about the past and begin to work through that as well as how both have changed in the intervening years. Rosie must also cautiously ease Peter into her family and get them to accept him.
This is where the book began to slog for me a bit. These themes are important and I was glad to see them explored and dealt with but they circled around a lot and were repeated too many times. Peter seems to turn into a wish fulfillment character ready to lavish time, money and attention on Rosie. Meanwhile Rosie has matured and emerges as a much more confident woman who is pulling the strings now. Her last decision actually delighted me as it shows her strength and determination to learn about herself before entering any commitments . Yay for older characters having a full (yes, this means sex) relationship and exorcising old ghosts but meh for a bit too much repetition along the way. B-