“Great vicarious vacation reading.” Publishers Weekly
“A wonderful voyage ... Elizabeth Adler always excels at bringing vivid and lifelike characters into being.” RT Book Reviews
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Paris, the most romantic city on earth, is a place of second honeymoons and newly discovered passions. It lures us with a banquet of tastes, sound, sights, and smells. And for Lara Lewis, it is the place where she and her husband once experienced love at its best. Now it is a place where forty-something Lara believes she can rekindle her marriage. She plans the
Paris, the most romantic city on earth, is a place of second honeymoons and newly discovered passions. It lures us with a banquet of tastes, sound, sights, and smells. And for Lara Lewis, it is the place where she and her husband once experienced love at its best. Now it is a place where forty-something Lara believes she can rekindle her marriage. She plans the most romantic adventure: to retrace her first honeymoon with her husband, visit the same sights, eat in the same restaurants, explore the same villages. But when her surgeon-husband tells her at the last minutes that there's another woman, Lara's heart is broken...almost.
Somewhere along the road of life, Lara has lost herself. but she makes a bold move. She decides to invite a man she hardly know to take the trip with her, a much younger man. What follows is the story of two innocent Americans stumbling through France in a madcap romantic adventure that begins with missed connections, lost luggage, and language barriers, and ends up being one woman's journey to find herself and the love that has eluded her all her life...
“Great vicarious vacation reading.” Publishers Weekly
“A wonderful voyage ... Elizabeth Adler always excels at bringing vivid and lifelike characters into being.” RT Book Reviews
Lara Lewis looked around the spacious master bedroom of her beautiful San Francisco home. Early morning sun slanted off the tall Venetian mirror, half blinding her, and she quickly closed her eyes again, wondering why she had woken with that sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. And then she remembered. Today was her forty-fifth birthday.
Eyes still firmly closed, she reviewed the mental picture. She was married to an eminent surgeon, mother of two grown-up children. The perfect doctor's wife, she had devoted her life to helping her husband and family and today, suddenly, she was middle-aged.
Whenever she looked in that antique Venetian mirror, she saw herself only too clearly; she was too plump, too curvy, dark curly hair pulled back revealing those telltale lines on her forehead. Lara sighed; she needed more than a shot of Botox to help her now.
There was no Lara Lewis Ph.D.; no Lara Lewis famous journalist; no Lara Lewis who had rafted down Whitewater rapids; no Lara who'd flown a plane, or climbed mountains in Nepal — all those women she had once meant to become. All she was, was Dr. Lewis's wife.
Yet, twenty-five years ago, when she married Bill, she had been young, slender, vital, ambitious, and, so Bill had told her, beautiful. It was strange, she thought with a pang, that beneath that prim doctor's-wife, forty-five-year-old too-curvy exterior still beat the heart of that pretty young woman, eager for all life had to offer.
She turned to look for Bill but the expensive linen pillow had only a slight dent where his head had lain. She could hear the shower running. Bill did not sing in the shower. Not now. He never listened to music anymore either. At least, not with her.
Bill Lewis had dazzled her when she first met him and he still had that effect on her now. It was as though he had mesmerized her, fascinated her, captivated her. Dominated her, her friends had warned.
Bill was still a good-looking man, lean and in great shape. His dark hair was streaked handsomely with silver, exactly the way it was supposed to at fifty-three, making him look even more distinguished. He always wore hand-tailored suits, expensive English shirts complete with gold cuff links and a heavy gold Rolex that was a permanent fixture on his wrist. Lara wondered vaguely if he even took it off when he operated. She guessed he must.
She sighed again. Bill was not the kind of man anyone said no to. People catered to him, admired him, went out of their way to please him. He was an internationally famous cardiac surgeon, known for his pioneering work on transplants, especially with children. Didn't actors say you should never work with children? You just couldn't win. Well, she guessed in her case it was true. She was definitely low on Bill's priority list.
Today — her birthday — Bill was flying to Beijing, and on the team he was taking with him was Melissa Kenney. Tall, slender, smart, and blond. And in her early thirties. And a pediatric specialist.
Lara's heart dropped even lower as she thought about Melissa. Instinct told her Bill was having an affair with her. Why else those "emergency" runs to the hospital at midnight? Why else those extended weekends away "at a conference"? Why else that abstracted look, the impatient glance at his watch, the not hearing her, not listening to her? Not noticing her anymore.
Loneliness clung to her heart and she turned her face into the pillow. She felt vulnerable in her new middle age. Bill had been the only man in her life, her only lover. The thought of losing him terrified her. She wouldn't know how to cope with anyone else, in her life, in her bed. And who would want her anyway, the plump, rejected, lonely ex-wife?
Panic sent her leaping out of bed, as though standing on her own two feet would somehow help her face things, just as Bill walked into the bedroom.
Lara tugged self-consciously at her pink cotton nightshirt. She smoothed her sleep-snarled hair, wishing she had woken earlier and was all perfumed and pretty for him, though she seemed to remember a time when Bill would turn to her in bed, telling her she smelled delicious, of sleep and of last night's fading perfume and female scents that turned him on.
Bill was already dressed for travel in a dark suit, the gold cuff links and gold watch in place.
Caught with sudden longing, Lara said wistfully, "I want to come with you." She was already mentally throwing a few things into a case, she could be ready in a flash, five minutes, even; she could wear sweats, put on her face on the way to the airport. ...
"I already told you, Lara, Beijing is not for you." Bill's deep voice had an exaggerated note of patience as though he was controlling his irritation. "Not comfortable enough," he added. "Food's not your style; you'd be bored and complaining in two days."
"Since when do I ever complain?" she retorted indignantly. "And I heard the food's okay in Beijing, there's even a Starbucks there now." She knew from the look he threw her that once again she had said the wrong thing.
"Don't be silly." Bill adjusted the knot in his blue silk tie in the mirror.
A new tie, Lara noted, recognizing it was from a fashionable designer. She wondered who had bought it for him. Hoping to make amends, she said hopefully, "At least when you get back, there's France."
Bill smoothed back his hair, adjusted the new tie again approvingly. "France?"
He seemed not to know what she was talking about. Lara's heart dropped; he couldn't have forgotten. "Our Second Honeymoon. I told you I'd planned it all exactly the way it was the first time. We're staying in exactly the same room at the Ritz in Paris, we're driving south to the Mediterranean, just the way we did before, the same little auberges, the same restaurants and cafes."
She clasped her hands anxiously together; she was betting their future on this Second Honeymoon, betting on it getting Bill away from Melissa, betting on it returning life to the way it used to be, when they were young and in love.
"Oh. Sure, it'll be great." Bill hardly seemed to remember their plans, let alone care.
The doorbell rang, making Lara jump.
"There's the limo." Bill picked up the bag she had packed for him last night. He turned to look at her, finally.
"Oh, I almost forgot. Happy birthday." He took a narrow, ribboned package from his pocket, gave it to her as he headed for the door. Then he remembered, turned, dropped a hasty kiss on her hair, and walked quickly from the room.
"Call me when you get there." Lara's voice echoed in the empty room.
She heard his footsteps on the stairs, then the slam of the front door. She ran to the window. The driver was smiling good morning, holding open the car door, and Lara caught a glimpse of long, silken legs in elegant high-heeled sandals. Her heart did a somersault. She knew those legs.
She stood holding back the curtain until long after the limo had disappeared from sight.
Slumping onto the bed, she opened her birthday gift. Bill usually gave her the latest novel or sometimes flowers, bought, she had no doubt, by his secretary. But this was different.
Her eyes widened and she stared, stunned, at the necklace, a narrow, glinting strip of diamonds centered with a lover's knot. Small, discreet, and in perfect taste.
For a wild moment she wondered if Bill had given her the wrong gift, if this had been meant for Melissa of the long, silken legs. Yet, didn't a lover's knot symbolize the tie that binds? Perhaps Bill had meant it as an apology, as a symbol of their future. She pushed her long, tangled hair out of the way, fastened the slender, glittering trophy around her neck, turned to see how it looked.
That treacherous Venetian mirror reflected the sparkling necklace, and her forty-five-year-old naked morning face above it. Her golden-brown eyes under straight black brows looked back at her, only now there were little lines around them. The curve of the cheek and chin were the same as always — or were those curves lower now? Her wide, vulnerable mouth was tense with worry and there was even a white hair this morning among those once-glossy dark curls.
She searched that face in the mirror, seeking her old self and not finding it. A tear rolled down her cheek and she tasted the bitter salt as she whispered, "Oh, Lara, Lara Lewis. Where did you go? Where are all your dreams? Your plans? Your hopes? Where are you?"
Somewhere along the road of life, she had lost her.
Was she alone in feeling like this? she wondered. Or were there hundreds, maybe thousands of women out there, just like her?
The lost ones.CHAPTER 2
Sitting at a cafe table, Lara gazed at the smiling faces of her best girlfriends as they sang "Happy Birthday," blushing as the waiter placed a tiny chocolate cake covered with fresh violets and lit with a single candle on the table in front of her. She felt uncomfortable, out of touch, not quite of today, hair pulled back, in her prim doctor's-wife Saks suit, the skirt a bit too long, heels too low.
"At forty-five, you'd think you would have gotten over that girlish blush," Susie teased.
"After all, it's not like your first kiss," Vannessa said.
"From that high school hunk and hero, Flabby Moxon," Delia added, grinning.
"Oh, my God, remember Flabby Moxon?" they wailed in unison.
Lara nodded. "I remember. Behind the bicycle sheds. I was just unlocking my speedracer — hot pink with silver stars on it — when he sneaked up behind me." She shuddered. "I just wanted to die right there and then. ..."
"Because guess who was right behind you ..."
"Buzz Johnson." Lara laughed. "The John Travolta of Madison High and the love of my life. Or so I thought then. And Buzz saw the kiss. But even worse were Flabby Moxon's soggy lips ... ugghhh ..." She shuddered again, remembering.
"So with those soggy lips, why else would he have been called Flabby?" Vannie asked.
"Because he had" — Delia glanced over her shoulder to make sure no one was listening — "breasts," she whispered loudly, and they all burst out laughing.
"I hardly think Congressman John W. Moxon, Republican, of California, would be happy to have his voters know such a personal thing about him now," Susie said. "Besides, only his wife knows for sure."
They were still laughing as Lara blew out her candle. She cut the little cake into four equal pieces and handed it around.
"Maybe Flabby's had liposuction," Delia mused. "Men do these days, you know. Male breast reduction, they call it."
"Jeez, Delia, I'm eating my cake." Susie was disgusted. "Anyhow, what kind of guy would do something like that?"
"A guy with tits," Vannie said and choked on her cake. They yelped with laughter as Delia thumped her energetically on the back.
But Lara's tears of laughter threatened to become real tears as she looked at the faces of her girlfriends. She had known them forever. Of course they were no longer girls, but somehow "women friends" didn't have the same nostalgic ring about it. It couldn't express the length and breadth of their friendship, spanning so many years, so many experiences.
They were the same age, born within months of one another. Their families had known each other, they had played together in preschool and started "real" school on the same day, clinging together like a single, many-limbed creature clutching four Snoopy lunch pails, climbing onto the little yellow bus, refusing to let their mothers accompany them.
They had shared sleepovers and double dates, birthday parties and graduations, proms and failed romances. They had shared secrets and sexual encounters, college and jobs, weddings and babies. Their lives were as intertwined as liana vines in a jungle, and sometimes it was hard to know where one stopped and another began.
Two were blond, two dark. Susie had started out mouse brown and graduated to honey-colored streaks that set off her golden-tan skin. She had always been the outdoors girl, the tennis player, the ace swimmer, and now the golfer. She was still skinny, still lithe, still always on the move, though she had been married to an architect for twenty years and had a clutch of teenagers running in and out of the house.
Vannie was the natural beauty, golden blond, with huge green eyes, long legs, and a slender but voluptuously rounded figure. She had driven the guys wild right through high school, but she had been the last to marry and when she did, she had surprised them. Vannie had married her college English professor, a small, discreet balding man who wore tweed jackets and glasses and who, she said, loved her for her intellect rather than her body. The Girlfriends said they hoped she meant as well as her body, but the truth was, beautiful Vannie was the demure one, the lady, in pearls and a cashmere sweater, pleated skirt and loafers. Vannie had been a radiant bride as she walked down the aisle with her three best friends trailing her in perfumed wafts of crackling taffeta and tuberoses. It had turned out to be a solid marriage, though, sadly, Vannie had been unable to have children. Instead, she and her husband had adopted two Vietnamese babies, who were now approaching college age and on whom they doted. She still looked like Grace Kelly.
Delia was dark-haired and olive-skinned with flashing brown eyes and an Italian temperament inherited from her Sicilian mother. "I'm the only foreigner in Masonville, California," she had complained as a girl, but she was always laughing. Nothing kept Delia down, not even the breast cancer scare that, two years earlier, had left her bald and wounded and in terrible pain, sustained only by the strength and compassion of her friends and her large extended family. Delia was in remission now, with no signs of the "big monster," as she called it mockingly. But with her new short hair, she was living like a new woman, savoring every moment.
Lara had been the shy one, the introvert. The one who felt things too deeply, the collector of stray kittens and damaged birds. The others said Lara had so many wounds to her heart when she was a teenager, it was a wonder she didn't expire right there and then.
"Love" was something Lara was always searching for, and with her soft, pretty looks — smudgy amber eyes under winging Audrey Hepburn brows, flowing Pre-Raphaelite dark, curly hair — and shy manner, she'd had boys in love with her all the time. But Lara had always loved the one she could not have, the one who loved another. Until, at age twenty, she had met and married Bill Lewis.
Now, she stared around at her dearest friends. She hadn't meant to tell, but somehow, she just blurted it out.
"I think Bill is having an affair."
Three pairs of eyes rounded in horror.
"Oh ... my ... God," Susie whispered.
"It can't be true." Delia shook her head in disbelief.
"Not Bill," Vannie said firmly.
"It's Melissa Kenney," Lara said. "The new pediatrician at St. Mark's."
Delia had met her. Her own husband was an orthopedic surgeon at the same hospital. Melissa Kenney was blond and cute. Not only that, somehow, Melissa's lipstick was always in place at the end of a long day and her white doctor's coat fitted her like a glove and never seemed to crease. "What makes you think it's true, Lar? Has someone said something?"
Lara lifted her shoulders in a helpless shrug. "How does any woman know? All those long unexplained hours away, those late-night 'emergencies.' Bill's restlessness, always pacing the bedroom floor glancing at his watch, staring out the window as though he couldn't wait to be somewhere else. Looking at me and not even seeing me anymore ..."
"Honey, all guys get like that at times." Vannie patted Lara's hand reassuringly. "After all, you've been married for twenty-five years. Practically since you were kids."
"Besides, Bill didn't forget your birthday," Delia added. "And that's the first thing guys having affairs forget."
Lara touched the necklace, remembering how Bill had handed it to her as a sort of afterthought. It felt cold under her fingers. "Perhaps it's a farewell gift," she said doubtfully, "like the token retirement gold watch."
"Lar, that's not true," Vannie said quickly. "Bill would never do that to you."
But Susie's shrewd eyes met hers across the table. "So why didn't you tell us about this earlier? I thought we always told each other everything. Wasn't that the pact?"
Excerpted from The Last Time I Saw Paris by Elizabeth Adler. Copyright © 2001 Elizabeth Adler. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
ELIZABETH ADLER is the internationally acclaimed author of twenty-two novels. She lives in Palm Springs, California.
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Do you want to take a trip to Paris? After reading this book you will. My fiance had to, on countless occasions, hear me read exerpts from this book. Now, we are even thinking of going to the South of France for our honeymoon and trying to find some of the restaurants and sites described so vividly in this novel. Totally different than her other novels - humourous but still sexy to the max - somewhat autobiographical I would think?!?!?! Check out her website for more Paris information.
From beginning to end this book was entertaining, nothing slow about it. I read it in a day and a half, as I had trouble putting it down. Other then relating to this book for many reasons, it made me so want to add Paris to my bucket list!!! I highly recommend this read!
good story but previous ones by Adler were better janie25
I really like the 4 or 5 Adler books I have already read. But this wasn't as good, in my opinion. This wasn't a bad story, and as always, the descriptions of the locations are great. But this story had a lot of redundant sections about the feelings of the 2 main characters, rehashing them over and over in their heads. Not a bad read since it makes you feel like you are in Paris, but the rest was just ok.
i came across this noval one day in a bookstore. i bought it only on the fact that i love anything French. i began reading along and fell in love with the story line. i trully would love to see this turned into a movie. Lara and Dan went through a lot of things while in France. i do belive that everyone who reads this can learn something valuable. i know that after reading this it helped me see some things in a different light. i would love for you (any of you) to read this and see how you too will relate to Lara, Dan, or Bill. i'm looking forward to her next noval.
I read this while going through a tough break-up, so everything in this story really hit home. This story was very well written, making me feel Lara's emotions. It had a little too much description of everythign French, however, and included a few too many French words. (since I know Spanish & English only, I was lost to what these things meant). I read it in 2 days, however, because I too, was afraid I would miss a single thing in Lara's trip. A heart-warming book sure to relax you on a rainy day.
After reading this book, I am dying to go to Paris and visit all of the places that were described. I could not put this book down for fear that I would miss out on what would happen next. I feel like I really knew the characters especially Lara. I highly recommend this book!!!
Lana Lewis just turned forty-five, but is miserable and has been ever since her husband of twenty-five years began to ignore her desires. He refuses to allow her to accompany him on his business trip to China, which adds to Lana¿s belief that he is cheating on her with his assistant. Still she looks forward to her upcoming second honeymoon trip with Bill when he returns to the states. Bill calls from China informing Lana their trip is off. Outraged, Lana decides to go to France without Bill. To her own amazement, she invites the carpenter working on her deck to join her. Even more amazing the thirtyish Tom Holland accepts because he finds Lana very attractive. Overseas, the couple bickers, shares madcap adventures, and enjoys each other company until love intercedes and decisions must be made. THE LAST TIME I SAW PARIS is a fun to read lighthearted romantic romp that will leave the audience in stitches of laughter as they observe the loving duo dives head first from one crazy incident to another. Elizabeth Adler¿s tale has a serious undertone as the heroine must face reality and see her husband for what he is and not how she wants him to be. Romance lovers will thoroughly enjoy this first class ride into true love. Harriet Klausner
I read this book in 2 days and passed it along to friends who couldn't put it down as well. Well written with great attention to detail, so much so that my husband and I were off to Paris that year. Elizabeth Adler is the best.