In Paris with You: A Novel

In Paris with You: A Novel

by Clémentine Beauvais

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Overview

For fans of Eleanor & Park and Emergency Contact, Clementine Beauvais' In Paris with You is a sweeping romance about the love that got away that #1 New York Times bestselling author Nicola Yoon calls "pure delight."

Eugene and Tatiana could have fallen in love, if things had gone differently. If they had tried to really know each other, if it had just been them, and not the others. But that was years ago and time has found them far apart, leading separate lives.

Until they meet again in Paris.

What really happened back then? And now? Could they ever be together again after everything?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250299161
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 01/08/2019
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 385,939
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Clémentine Beauvais writes for both the UK and French market. Her books written in English include Sesame Seade series, the Royal Babysitters series, and her bestselling French book, The Three Piglettes. She is an award-winning author in France; In Paris with You (French title Songe a la Douceur) has been in the bestseller charts since it was published, selling 30,000 copies in the first three months, and reprinting three times in the first two. Clémentine lives and works in York, UK.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Because their story didn't end at the right time, in the right place,
because they let their feelings go to waste,
it was written, I think, that Eugene and Tatiana would find each other ten years later,
one morning in winter,
under terra firma,
on the Meteor, Line 14 (magenta) of the Paris Metro.
It was quarter to nine.
Imagine Eugene, dressed up fine: black corduroys,
pale blue check Oxford shirt, sensible collar, charcoal tweed jacket, a gray scarf,
probably cashmere, frayed at the ends,
wrapped once,
twice around his neck — and above this hung a face that had softened since the last time;
a face written more loosely,
a face less harsh, and more patient.
Suppler, gentler.
A face rinsed clean of its adolescence;
the face of a young man who had learned to stifle his impatience,
a young man who had learned how to wait.

Tatiana, funnily enough,
had been thinking about him the previous evening.
Which might seem an amazing coincidence,
except that she often thought about him

— and I'm sure that you, too, can brood and mope,
sometimes, about love affairs that went wrong years ago.

The pain's not worse after ten years.
It doesn't necessarily increase with time.
It's not an investment,
you know,
regret.
Lost love doesn't have to be a tragedy.
There's not always enough material there for a story.
But for these two,
I'll make an exception, if you don't mind.
Look how shaken they are to find each other again.
Look at their eyes ...
"Eugene, hi, haven't seen you for ages!"
beamed Tatiana, a pretty good actress.
He sat down next to her; the seat was still warm.
On the black window reflecting his face,
a sleeper's forehead had stamped a little circle of grease like the watermark on a banknote.
A record of time spent, now disappearing.
Tatiana could see herself in the window too,
at an angle, as the train sped up, roaring.
The sudden surges, sharp bends, and screeching stops of Line 14 are notoriously vicious. It's hard to stand up or chat or read. But it does have an upside: it takes you from your first stop to your last fast.
As they rushed from one place to another,
Tatiana stared at the window that reflected him and her together.
Eugene yelled:
"So how are things? I had no idea you were pregnant ..."
She wasn't.
And yet, it was difficult to contradict Eugene at that moment, since on her duffle coat was a massive badge, and on that badge a baby grinned, a big white speech bubble proudly declaring in capital letters:

BABY ON BOARD!

And in smaller letters, just below:
THANK YOU FOR GIVING ME YOUR SEAT.
So it was only logical that Eugene
(who was feeling somewhat upset by this news,
and surprised to be upset, and a bit confused)
should come to this conclusion.
There was an explanation,
which could not be given then and there:
that because empty seats were so rare on the Paris metro between eight and nine a.m.,
Tatiana had, a few months before,
bought this VIP (very impregnated person) pass,
her guarantee of a place to rest her bum.
She loved seeing all those kind ladies and gentlemen spot her badge and leap to their feet as if their seat were on fire.
She would thank them, flashing soft Virgin Mary smiles.
And since there was nothing secret about her condition,
it often set off shouted conversations about baby names,
and baby clothes,
and giving birth, and epidurals,
and nurseries,
and breastfeeding,
and so on, and so on.
She'd had to do some research into the mysteries of maternity.
She needed a coherent story,
for at that time of day, it was often the same passengers standing/swaying/sitting in the train carriage.
She couldn't claim one day that she was four months gone with twins,
and the next that it was a little girl with Down's that she and her husband had decided to keep,
and the day after that that it was a miracle child, conceived after eight rounds of IVF,
and the day after that that she was a surrogate mother for two gay men.
No one would believe her if her story kept changing.
This need for precision was the price she had to pay for a free seat every day ... until spring,
when she could ride a Vélib' to the National Library without shivering.

"Who's the father?" asked Eugene.
"The father? His name's Murray."
"Murray? Do I know him?"
"No, I don't think so — he's British,"
said Tatiana, who had just invented him.
For a moment they were silent.
Then Tatiana paid him a compliment:
"You look very elegant!"
"Ah, thank you," Eugene replied.
"I'm going to my grandfather's funeral."
"Oh! That's great!" said Tatiana,
who obviously hadn't given herself enough time to process this information.

Next station:
Gare de Lyon.
To the right, on the other side of the tracks, a lush tropical forest suddenly appeared behind glass.

(I remember how,
aged seven or eight,
I used to daydream about seeing snakes and monkeys in there.)

The doors slid open and a voice, automated,
intimated in three languages, no less,
that passengers should exit from the left side of the train.
Bajada por el lado izquierdo.

(When I was young and everything was new and a source of wonder,
I used to ponder what kind of aliens this obscure message was addressing.
"It's in case there are any Spaniards on the train,"
my father explained.
"So they know where to get off."
I wasn't sure what Spaniards were.
I imagined them tall and rubbery,
I don't know why.
For months,
whenever we came into the Gare de Lyon, I would watch,
heart pounding, hands clasping my skirt, eager for a glimpse of those elastic creatures,
who,
disobeying the train man's very clear directive,
would open the door jungle side and vanish, undetected,
into the forest of palms.)


* * *

But let's get back to our two passengers.
Their memories are more important than mine.
They have things to tell each other that they can't articulate.
So they say other stuff, though of course it barely conceals what's really on their minds.
One of those cowardly conversations,
on this and that and the weather,
avoiding the heart of the matter.
That's what happens when everything has gone to waste:
we can't say it out loud;
we chicken out.
Thankfully someone inside us speaks in our place.

"So what about you? Where are you going?" Eugene asked politely.
"To the National Library. Like I do every morning,
at precisely the same time ... you know,
if by any chance you're planning to make the same trip tomorrow ..."
He's going to the cemetery, you idiot!
Tatiana yelled at herself inside her head.
Thankfully,
it was fine:
Eugene didn't notice her blunder,
busy as he was trying to remember what he was supposed to be doing tomorrow at quarter to nine.
"What are you up to in the library?"
"I'm working on my thesis.
I'm in the last year of my PhD."
"Oh yeah? What's your thesis about?"
"History of art. It's on Caillebotte.
Gustave Caillebotte."
Then she shifted into autopilot:
Don't worry, no one knows anything about Caillebotte ...
"Don't worry, no one knows anything about Caillebotte. He was a nineteenth-century artist — a painter and collector, theoretically part of the Impressionist movement, but in fact his paintings are much more precise, more classical in a way
— you might have seen one of his more famous pictures: a view of Paris in the rain, Haussmann-style buildings like a ship's bow, with a man and a woman under an umbrella..."
"I know,
I know,"
Eugene interrupted.
"I know exactly who Caillebotte is," he muttered.
"Ah! Perfect.
Well then, you know everything."

To her chagrin, Tatiana felt that this declaration somehow carried the implication that her thesis didn't really

amount to much.
Not wishing to leave Eugene with this impression, she started to describe to him,
with a level of detail that might seem excessive,
part of her third chapter,
still largely hypothetical at this stage,
about the representation of water in Caillebotte's art; in this chapter,
Tatiana demonstrated,
in a boldly rhetorical way,
that the liquid elements in Caillebotte's paintings
— rivers, bathwater, rain —
were a sort of discreet reply to the stodgy, spongy daubings of certain other artists around at the same time.


* * *

When she finished this explanation,
the train howled to a stop at the National Library metro station.
Eugene got off too.
"Is your funeral near here?" asked Tatiana,
not very tactfully.
"It's at the Kremlin-Bicêtre cemetery.
I'm going to walk. I have plenty of time."
They stood in silence on the escalator,
Tatiana leaning clumsily to the right,
turned backward so she could face Eugene,
her right foot in front of her left to hide the ladder in her tights.

Eugene seemed pensive.
Tatiana noticed some fine lines on his brow that had not been there last time,
though she might have anticipated their arrival because of all the frowning he used to do ten years ago to express his disapproval.


* * *

As a teen he'd disapproved of everything —
the boy was always bored —
while she'd been too easily pleased and lost in a daydream.
She wondered vaguely if she was still in love with him.
"It'd be nice to see each other again," Eugene told her halfway up the escalator.
As this sentence prompted a thousand questions,
Tatiana asked none of them and concentrated instead on the immediate perils of her ascension:
her left arm,
pulled by the handrail,
was escaping upward,
faster than the steps.
She checked that her scarf was not dragging on the floor,
to make sure it wouldn't choke her at the end of the ride.
(She'd seen a video of a similar incident on the Internet.
The guy died.)
"Can I have your number?" Eugene asked.
"Of course," she said, reciting it digit by digit.
He texted her so she would have his too.
She already had it.

Apparently he hadn't changed his number in the past ten years.
Apparently he hadn't kept hers.

"How's Olga?" Eugene asked casually,
as they were elbowing their way toward the turnstiles.
"Oh ... fine, you know. She's got two daughters now."
"Ah, cool! They'll be cousins to yours, I mean."
Tatiana had momentarily forgotten the whole story with the badge.
This was her chance to come clean:
"Listen, I'm not really pregnant. I just bought this thing so I'd get a seat on the metro every morning."
Eugene threw his head back and laughed.
But the laughter surprised him because it was more than laughter.
It gave Eugene the feeling that he was like a snowdrop or something,
one of those flowers that break through the white winter crust and suddenly breathe the icy air.
The laughter of someone who, until that laugh,
must not have been truly aware that he was alive.
"I did think you were a bit young for that kind of responsibility."
"People always feel too young for responsibility,"
said Tatiana. "Any kind.
A kitten, a bonsai tree ...
Keeping your ticket till the end of your journey."
She sighed as if to herself. "I have to use tickets now. I didn't renew my Navigo card — I've got no murray at the moment."
"No murray?"
"No money.
Damn it,
I don't know why I can't speak properly today."
"But no Murray either?" Eugene ventured.
"No Murray either, no. Murray was an underground invention."
Eugene smiled and nodded, alarmed at the realization that the mere idea of brushing against Tatiana — the crowd was pressed tight together as everyone pushed toward the exit — made his head swim,
knees buckle and pulse race as though he were standing on the top of a high-dive board staring into the depths below.
"You go first, it'll be easier that way."
The turnstile must have had a sense of humor
(or maybe it was just that their wool coats rubbed against each other)
because it gave them an electric shock.
Tatiana stuck her ticket in an ikebana of trash,
a foul efflorescence of ash,
in one of those bins where smokers stub their cigarettes.

Outside, it was the usual tornado between the four towers of the National Library.
In all kinds of weather,
even in the middle of a hot August afternoon,
while the whole city languishes, breathlessly,
under a coal-black sun,
those library stairways are eternally swept by typhoons.
Apparently it's an aerodynamic phenomenon related to the positioning of the towers.
A small architectural mistake.

And everyone complains about it, everyone bellyaches,
but no one thinks of the joy of those four buildings playing ping-
pong with the wind,
lifting up skirts,
artistically swirling the leaves and dirt.
It's too bad how the happiness of some makes others sad.

Eugene and Tatiana walked through this whirlwind,
and between them brief electrifying glances darted and fled,
the way little crabs dart and flee when children touch their fingers to a rock pool by the sea.
Their little dance of glances might have gone on like this forever,
but someone got in the way.
He was a tall man,
handsome,
perhaps,
if your idea of beauty is the cold hard ice of marble, if your idea of beauty is the tough leather, scarred,
of tree bark.
He was a powerful man,
sensual,
perhaps,
if sensuality for you is a craggy mountaintop in the wind-lashed dawn.
I believe it was Edmund Burke who used the word sublime to describe that beauty, cracked and mineral,
that wild beauty, rough and material,
which not only attracts but terrifies.
"How glad I am to see you, Tatiana!
I'd wondered if our paths might cross today,"
declared this man, who was, it turned out,
the supervisor of her thesis on Caillebotte.
She hastened to introduce him to Eugene,
who caught only brief snatches of their words,
Mr. Leprince well-known specialist French Impressionism
preoccupied as he was by other things:
made notable discoveries about Renoir
Tatiana's pink, chapped lips, her dimpled chin,
a few white cat hairs on her raspberry scarf,
her posture, curved to the left
was the curator of the exhibition at the Musée du Luxembourg
by the weight of her bag,
presumably stuffed with books and notes.
"That's very interesting," said Eugene,
who really couldn't have cared less about Caillebotte

or Renoir or Monet
and analyzed Degas's correspondence
or Degas.
Damn Degas,
with his stupid ballerinas.
But just to participate in the conversation, he said: "Hey,
that reminds me — it's been ages since I went to the Musée d'Orsay."
It was then that Eugene noticed Tatiana's dark shining hair,
blown by the wind into delicate arcs.

And what, my dear,
are your plans for the day?

He also noticed that she had very pretty teeth,
small, pearly, with nice little spaces —
he hadn't realized that back then.
Hang on,
didn't she used to wear braces before?
Before: ten years ago, she was ... Hang on ...
Fourteen!
Well yeah, there you go: fourteen.
At that age, you're still under construction.
I'm going to reread Valéry as you suggested recently
And now, it had all changed: her hair, her skin, her teeth.
I remember how young she seemed,
like a little kid.
I didn't take enough notes before.
And it's always useful to return to sources that you think you know.

And I was practically an adult, thought Eugene.

And suddenly he remembered: fuck, I was seventeen. Seventeen!
Seventeen years old! Christ, that's beyond belief.
Did it really exist, that age? Seventeen!
It's impossible, seventeen. It's pure fiction.
It's an age dreamed up to make old people believe that they used to be adolescents.
Whereas in reality, it's absolutely certain that no one in the whole wide world was ever seventeen.
Eugene, however, was beginning to realize
If you ever need to see me,
just drop by

that this thesis supervisor, sublime in the Burkean sense of the term,
was, quite calmly and casually,
your brilliant work is always a pleasure to read
but very clearly, trying to pull Tatiana.
It was obvious that he, too, had seen the interlacing of her hair in the wind,
her white teeth, those nice spaces in between,
and I am of course eager to hear you speak at the museum next week
and he suddenly wondered if there wasn't something going on between those two that he should have been told about,
before remembering that, only this morning,
as recently as quarter to nine,
he hadn't thought about Tatiana more than five or six times in ten years.
He'd tried his best not to; whenever he'd got close,
anywhere near,
to thinking of her, by chance — of her, of that summer —
he'd tiptoed back,
clicked shut the door,
again and again,
on that room in his mind where he'd stored that July, that August, those joys. That pain.
So she'd been wiped from his memory for years,
and now here he was, full of fears,
like some jealous husband,
a member of the Taliban,
some big macho idiot: the kind of guy who appears on TV at one in the morning to explain why he can't stand the fact that his wife is a fan of Simon Le Bon.

And yet it was interesting for Eugene, who had hardly ever experienced this kind of feeling before,
to sense the overwhelming power of his desire,
when he looked at this man (sublime in the Burkean sense of the term),
to murder him in a very aggressive way.
by the by, I heard that a wonderful article you wrote is going to be published in Art History?
Eugene was overcome by the urge to provoke him to a duel,
like they used to in the olden days.
If Lensky was here, he'd have been his second.
Shit, he hadn't thought about Lensky in years!
I've really got to go, I've booked a desk in the library for half past nine.
It was Tatiana who'd said those words.
Until soon, maybe, Eugene ...
Tatiana was leaving. She'd booked a desk for half past nine.
The library awaits!
The library awaited.
It was nice to see you again.
Really nice.

It was nice. Really nice.
A kiss on the left cheek, a kiss on the right cheek.
The smell of cold,
cigarettes, bergamot.
Time to get back to my Caillebotte.
What a stupid name, Caillebotte. Really, it was the stupidest name ever.
He watched with wonder Tatiana descend the stairs in the gusts of the architectural blunder.

As Eugene was about to leave, feeling a bit flat,
tired and sad,
the sublime (in the Burkean sense of the term) man suddenly said in his guttural voice —
the kind of voice you hear on posh radio stations like France Culture;
a voice drowning in static; rough, gravelly,
the kind you want to sweep like a driveway —
he said in this voice to Eugene:
"And how is it, sir, that you know Tatiana?
I don't believe she has mentioned your name."
"I was friends with the boyfriend of her Olga sister,"
replied Eugene, forcing himself to use the same rhythm, but getting his words mixed up.
"I mean, her older sister. Olga," he corrected.
"Ah! A genuine, long-standing connection!
Then I'm not telling you anything new if I say That she is the brightest student in my collection;
From the indistinct mass of my PhDs,
She emerges, like a beam cast on the sea By a lighthouse, its dazzling reflection,
Or the little firefly hovering softly In the dark night; incandescent perfection ..."
"What the hell is he on about?" thought Eugene.
"This is a public declaration of love!
Live from the steps of the National Library!
He might just as well yell very very loudly through a megaphone:
I love Tatiana! I love Tatiana! I love Tatiana!
Is he mad or what? Why tell me that?
Oh, this is torture."
And he stood still as stone,
stunned by the truth of this idea.
"The bastard.
He is torturing me."
The man droned on in his voice from France Culture:
"I had forgotten all about the pleasures of the mind And was calmly drifting to the end of my career When Tatiana appeared and magically undermined The daily trudge and drear ..."
"Lensky was a poet,"
Eugene thought.
"But not this kind of poet.
Not like this pompous Leprince.
Is he sleeping with her?"
At nine thirty-five in the morning, logically,
this question should not have entered his head.
But now it was the most important question in the world.
The key question.
"Is he sleeping with her?"
Eugene discovered that he had other questions too.
Hundreds of thousands of questions,
which he asked himself feverishly while Leprince did his worst,
spouting declarations of love in rhyming verse.

She didn't ask me what I did for a living — doesn't she care is she still angry with me who could blame her after what I said is she sleeping with him how in whose bed what exactly did I tell her I can't even remember now
dear Tatiana
no, not even a dear I don't think I even said dear I was a little turd back then I was hardly even me back then has she thought about me recently did she recognize me straight away why has she changed like that has she really changed as much as all that was she that pretty before was she that witty before was it the braces on her teeth that hid her soul from me is thirty-five minutes enough time to fall in love with a girl or fall back in love was I in love with her back then did I have a personality back then was I really a human being back then was there anything inside my head is he sleeping with her is he sleeping with her?
I don't remember what I told her that day if only I could remember what the hell did I say?
then I could explain perhaps she's waiting for me to apologize but I could hardly apologize to her just then down in the metro, on the fourteenth line,
five minutes after seeing her again am I getting myself worked up over nothing very much did she already possess such beauty such intelligence such personality is she sleeping with him would anyone notice if I missed my grandfather's funeral?

yeah probably I think Mom would probably notice particularly as I'm supposed to give a speech damn if I run could I catch her is she already in the library is she waiting for me to call her is he sleeping with her is he sleeping with her?
These are just some of the thousands of questions that we will leave Eugene (for now) to wrestle with, alone.
Because it's time for a brief summary of the facts.
It's time to go back about ten years into the past,
back to when it all began.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "In Paris With You"
by .
Copyright © 2016 Clémentine Beauvais.
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.

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