“A vicarious jolt of Parisian romance. . . Delightful.” –People Magazine
"An old-fashioned, feel-good love story. . . It’s as if Moyes has booked a vacation and is taking us along. To Paris. Amour!” –USA Today
“Dreamy escapism, a book you can curl up with and easily finish over a weekend, with or without a glass of wine.” –Miami Herald
Nell is twenty-six and has never been to Paris. She's never even been on a romantic weekend away—to anywhere—before. Traveling abroad isn't really her thing. But when Nell's boyfriend fails to show up for their mini-vacation, she has the opportunity to prove everyone—including herself—wrong. Alone in Paris, Nell finds a version of herself she never knew existed: independent and intrepid. Could this turn out to be the most adventurous weekend of her life? Funny, charming, and irresistible, "Paris for One" is quintessential Jojo Moyes—as are the other stories that round out the collection.
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Nell shifts her bag along the plastic seating in the station and checks the clock on the wall for the eighty-ninth time. Her gaze flicks back as the door from Security slides open. Another family-clearly Disney bound-walks through into the departure lounge, with baby stroller, screaming children, and parents who have been awake way too long.
For the last half hour, her heart has been thumping, a sick feeling high in her chest.
"He will come. He will still come. He can still make it," she mutters under her breath.
"Train 9051 to Paris will be leaving from Platform Two in ten minutes. Please make your way to the platform. Remember to take all luggage with you."
She chews her lip, then texts him again-the fifth time.
Where are you? Train about to leave!
She had texted him twice as she set off, checking that they were still meeting at the station. When he didn't answer, she told herself it was because she had been on the Underground. Or he had. She sends a third text, and a fourth. And then, as she stands there, her phone vibrates in her hand and she almost buckles with relief.
Sorry, babe. Stuck at work. Not going to make it.
As if they had planned to catch up over a quick drink. She stares at the phone in disbelief.
Not going to make this train? Shall I wait?
And, seconds later, the reply:
No, you go. Will try for later train.
She is too shocked to be angry. She stands still as people get to their feet around her, pulling on coats, and punches out a reply.
But where will we meet?
He doesn't answer. Stuck at work. It's a surf-and-scuba-wear shop. In November. How stuck can he be?
She gazes around her, as if this might still be a joke. As if he will, even now, burst through the doors with his broad smile, telling her that he was teasing her (he is a bit too fond of teasing her). And he will take her arm, kiss her cheek with wind-chilled lips, and say something like, "You didn't think I'd miss this, did you? Your first trip to Paris?"
But the glass doors stay firmly shut.
"Madam? You need to go to the platform." The Eurostar guard reaches for her ticket. And for a second she hesitates—will he come?—and then she is in the crowd, her little wheeled case trailing behind her. She stops and types:
Meet me at the hotel, then.
She heads down the escalator as the huge train roars into the station.
"What do you mean, you're not coming? We've planned this for ages." It is the annual Girls' Trip to Brighton. They have traveled there on the first weekend of November every year for six years—Nell, Magda, Trish, and Sue—piled into Sue's old four-wheel drive or Magda's company car. They would escape their daily lives for two nights of drinking, hanging out with the lads from stag weekends, and nursing hangovers over cooked breakfasts in a tatty hotel called Brightsea Lodge, its outside cracked and faded, the scent of its interior suffused with decades of drink and cheap aftershave.
The annual trip has survived two babies, one divorce, and a case of shingles (they spent the first night partying in Magda's hotel room instead). Nobody has ever missed one.
"Well, Pete's invited me to go to Paris."
"Pete is taking you to Paris?" Magda had stared at her as if she'd announced she was learning to speak Russian. "Pete Pete?"
"He says he can't believe I've never been."
"I went to Paris once, on a school trip. I got lost in the Louvre, and someone put my sneaker down a toilet in the youth hostel," said Trish.
"I snogged a French boy because he looked like that bloke who goes out with Halle Berry. Turned out he was actually German."
"Pete-with-the-hair Pete? Your Pete? I'm not trying to be mean. I just thought he was a bit of a . . ."
"Loser," said Sue helpfully.
"Obviously we're wrong. Turns out he's the kind of bloke who takes Nell on romantic weekends to Paris. Which is . . . you know. Great. I just wish it wasn't the same long weekend as our long weekend."
"Well, once we'd got the tickets . . . it was difficult. . . ." Nell mumbled with a wave of her hand, hoping nobody would ask who had actually purchased these tickets. (It had been the only weekend left before Christmas when the discount had applied.)
She had planned the trip as carefully as she organized her office paperwork. She had searched the Internet for the best places to go, scanning TripAdvisor for the best budget hotels, cross-checking each one on Google, and entering the results on a spreadsheet.
She had settled on a place behind the rue de Rivoli—"clean, friendly, very romantic"—and booked an "executive double room" for two nights. She pictured herself and Pete tangled up in a French hotel bed, gazing out the window at the Eiffel Tower, holding hands over croissants and coffee in some street café. She was only really going on pictures: she didn't have much idea what you did on a weekend in Paris, apart from the obvious.
At the age of twenty-six, Nell Simmons had never been away for a weekend with a boyfriend, unless you counted that time she went rock-climbing with Andrew Dinsmore. He had made them sleep in his Mini, and she woke up so cold that she couldn't move her neck for six hours.
Nell's mother, Lilian, was fond of telling anyone who would listen that Nell "was not the adventurous type." She was also "not the type to travel," "not the kind of girl who can rely on her looks," and now, occasionally, if her mother thought Nell was out of earshot, "no spring chicken."
That was the thing about growing up in a small town—everyone thought they knew exactly what you were. Nell was the sensible one. The quiet one. The one who would carefully research any plan and who could be trusted to water your plants, mind your kids, and not run off with anyone's husband.
No, Mother. What I really am, Nell thought as she printed off the tickets, gazing at them, then tucking them into a folder with all the important information, is the kind of girl who goes to Paris for the weekend.
As the big day grew nearer, she started to enjoy dropping it into conversation. "Got to make sure my passport is up-to-date," she said when she left her mother after Sunday lunch. She bought new underwear, shaved her legs, painted her toenails a vivid shade of red (she usually went for clear). "Don't forget I'm leaving early on Friday," she said at work. "You know. For Paris."
"Oh, you're so lucky," chorused the girls in Accounts.
"I'm well jell," said Trish, who disliked Pete slightly less than everyone else.
Nell climbs onto the train and stows her bag, wondering how "jell" Trish would be if she could see her now: a girl beside an empty seat going to Paris with no idea whether her boyfriend was even going to turn up.
Reading Group Guide
1. Which is your favorite story in the collection and why?
2. Do you recognize yourself in Nell or any of the other characters in Paris for One and Other Stories?
3. Fabian first feels a connection to Nell when they are both moved by the same painting at the Frida Kahlo exhibit. Have you ever responded to a work of art in such a visceral way?
4. Nell’s girlfriends play a key role in her Paris weekend, in both good ways and bad. How does her relationship with Magda and the others shift after she returns?
5. On pp. 86–87, Fabien takes Nell to the Pont des Arts to see the love locks. Were you familiar with this Parisian tradition of attaching locks to the bridge? Why do people do it? Would you?
6. In the final line of “Paris for One,” Nell says she “always did like a story with a happy ending” (p. 151). What do you imagine happens to Nell after the story ends?
7. In “Thirteen Days with John C,” Miranda finds a stranger’s cellphone and is seduced by the texts of a man she doesn’t know. Although she is pretending to be someone else and in fact never meets John C, do you believe that what she did qualifies as cheating? Would her husband agree?
8. Why is Sara so unenthusiastic about being whisked away for the night in “Love in the Afternoon”? Why didn’t Doug tell her he received the trip as a company bonus? In what way does the discovery change Sara’s attitude?
9. The stories “Paris for One” and “Love in the Afternoon” both revolve around a romantic weekend trip. What is the most romantic vacation you’ve ever had?
10. On p. 40, Moyes includes a quotation from Samuel Beckett: “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” What does this mean? Have you had any moments in your life when this was applicable to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I have never been a huge fan of short stories, but considering my love of Moyes' work, I couldn't pass it up. Paris for One was instantly captured my attention and I was not disappointed. The other short stories will make you think and reflect on your own life. They are great to read when you want to read but are short on time.
Delightful short escapes. Characters quickly and wonderfully developed. Unexpected plot twists within well described environments. A book made to accompany travel.
Loved Paris for one and the other short stores did not disappoint.
I enjoyed the first story but I disn't love it.
I read Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and really loved that novel but I haven’t yet read the sequel. When I saw this novel by Jojo at the library, I had to grab it. Reading that it contained small romantic stories, I knew that it would be perfect for my last novel for the year. It had a good variety of stories, I enjoyed the variety in length and content and I loved most of them. There were only a few of them that I was not totally thrilled with as I thought they were not as developed as the others or I just didn’t feel as connected to the characters as I felt I should have been otherwise, the rest of novel was fabulous. It is definitely worth checking out, there were some unexpected moments in some of the stories. I really enjoyed the first story which was the longest. A romantic trip to Paris for cautious Nell with her boyfriend doesn’t go as intended. As Nell starts to let go of her fears, she begins to realize that it’s okay to take some chances in life. It’s Paris and Nell meets Fabian, need I say more? Then there is a story about Frank who claims someone is trying to frame him for an affair. This story was fabulous and I thought I had it all figured out and I was wrong. Thanks Jojo for that one. I also enjoyed the cell phone story and the story about the individuals who meet up years later in life. What a great book to end 2016 with.
Paris for One is a lovely book written by JoJo Moyes, one of the best fiction writers of our time. The stories and characters are delightful and diverse. The well-developed characters work their way into your heart, and you want to hear more from them. This collection includes the story of a crime victim, as well as several stories of women discovering their true selves . Her writing is so refreshing - focusing on relationships and priorities, with no political agenda. These stories are just as good as her full-length novels, and I highly recommend Paris for One.
Paris for One and Other Stories is a collection of short stories written by Jojo Moyes. In my opinion, most all of the stories are entertaining and engaging, although some were more enjoyable than others for me personally. Fans of women's fiction will surely be able to connect with a few if not most of the pieces. It's a great collection. Check it out! Titles: • Paris for One • Between the Tweets • Love in the Afternoon • A Bird in the Hand • Crocodile Shoes • Holdups • Last Year’s Coat • Thirteen Days with John C • The Christmas List
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