Originally Published: October 11, 2018 9:24 p.m.
When I first picked up Indie First Nominated Goodbye Paris, by Antsy Harris, I was hoping that the character’s goodbye to that amazing city didn’t come too early in the book. However it didn’t take more than a few pages of language that at time borders on the poetic to draw me in fully and render that concern a non-issue. The main character, Grace Atherton, is living the perfect life: Although she has given up on her dream of being a cellist, she very much loves the work she now does, making cellos and violins in her highly regarded shop, spending some of her time in Paris with a seemingly perfect boyfriend (who cares if he’s married and has an “arrangement”; after all, the novel is set in Europe). What could go wrong?
Well, the way in which things start to unravel is as unique and compelling as the eccentric characters themselves,:Nadia, Grace’s talented and angst ridden teenaged shop assistant comes through as vividly as if she were in the same room, as does Mr. Williams, an elegant older “gentleman” who visits the shop. And when Grace’s fairytale world starts coming apart these two indelible characters have much they can teach her.
Things don’t just come apart gracefully either; some things literally get torn apart–and with Grace’s help, until she finds herself feeling sick as she surveys “the fresh open wounds in the wood” of the violins, “the split varnish, and the leaking glue.” “I pray these things are hallucinations,” she tells us, then “I put my hands to my face and sob....My life is over.”
With these final details, and every other aspect of her perfect life suddenly lying around her in pieces, the novel is over, right! Of course not, and the real story starts with the very unmetaphorical blood, sweat and tears that Grace needs to make her way toward rebuilding some sort of replacement for her old life. With every moving step of this steep uphill journey Grace becomes closer to a happiness more real and satisfying than she could have imagined.