French Lessons by Ellen Sussman


French Lessons


The Las Vegas Review-Journal raves about French Lessons!
"Sussman does a beautiful job of weaving together the stories of the tutors and their students, creating unique and separate voices for each character, while enhancing the story of a single day in the lives of all six. With the always mesmerizing backdrop of Paris, this novel brings a sense of having taken a short but satisfying day-trip to the City of Light while never leaving the comfort of home."
—The Las Vegas Review-Journal

The Seattle Times calls French Lessons a "best summer reading pick." 
"The intoxicating backdrop of Paris makes this novel immensely satisfying."
—The Seattle Times

USA Today says "French Lessons Teaches From the Heart"

Those who fell in love with Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris have found a print companion.

French Lessons is an escapist summer read filled with the charm of baguettes and berets, but one that packs an emotional punch.

Ellen Sussman's novel follows the same day in Paris from the perspectives of three pairs of French tutors and their American students — all of whom carry romantic baggage. As the day progresses, the tales link and overlap, held together by the tutors' relationships with one another.

Realized or not, the sexual tension between the couples is hold-your-breath-worthy, and the Parisian backdrop is just as tantalizing. The lovely settings — from a garden-topped houseboat to a film set overlooking the Seine to a Moroccan tea room — are perfect spots for some undeniable flirtation.

Sussman, who lived in Paris for five years, clearly knows the role of the expat, as well as the beauty of the city. Her light and airy prose has the appealing immediacy of a romance novel. But she digs deeper, connecting the reader to the inner lives of her conflicted American characters.

French Lessons is a sexy addition to any Francophile's stack of beach reads.

Best of Summer Fiction!

It's wrong to judge a book by its cover, especially in the case of Sussman's tripartite novel. From the hazy jacket photo of a stylish woman wrapped in Gallic flag colors you might mistakenly think this is a slight, feel-good story of someone's frivolous French vacation. Pas du tout! These linked tales of three young French tutors meeting with their students are sharp, erotic and unexpectedly moving. Josie and Nico, Riley and Philippe, Jeremy and Chantal--these pairings aren't the stuff of chick-lit novels or Hollywood flicks, but instead the accidental kind of everyday meetings that can and do wind up changing lives.
Shelf Awareness

Three Americans spend a stormy day in Paris with their respective French tutors in this engaging new novel by Sussman, a South Bay resident who spent five years living in France. Josie, Riley and Jeremy have come to Paris for different reasons, but each is traveling under the assumption that one can glean a great deal about a city by learning its native tongue. As they traverse the streets of Paris, the world's most beautiful language works its magic, and each character makes the kind of discovery that seems to befall strangers in a strange land.
San Jose Mercury News

4 star rave review of FRENCH LESSONS in People Magazine!

"Three Americans in Paris – a young woman whose married lover has just died, an ex-pat mother of two small children who feels abandoned by her husband, and the overshadowed spouse of a famous actress – learn far more than French from their language tutors in this luscious novel of love and longing. The teachers conduct their lessons while wandering the city through the course of a single summer day; the students walk along chatting with their instructors and conversing silently with themselves, as earlier scenes with lovers play out in their heads. While each of the three stories is told separately, they are all cleverly intertwined and together paint a touching portrait of desire and self-discovery, illuminating the way a brief encounter with a stranger can utterly transform a life. With writing that reflects the charm of the setting and a cynical wit, Sussman makes the romance of Paris come alive without lapsing into cliché. The narrative feels as light as a glass of rosé at an outdoor café, but its insights carry the richness of a Burgundy. Like a day spent with a lover, French Lessons leaves a sense of satisfaction along with a wish that it wouldn’t end."
Robin Micheli, People Magazine

"Three Americans explore Paris alongside their attractive French tutors and find themselves caught up in a delightful day of desire in Sussman's second novel… Sussman keeps things fresh with a strong supporting cast and some unexpected insights into the characters' pasts, embracing a soupçon of mystery to go with the scenic strolls and flights of passion."
—Publishers Weekly

 "French Lessons quietly takes readers into the hearts of the city and its people and gently reminds them of the transformative power of travel."

"[An] evocative escape to the City of Love."


—Entertainment Weekly"Sussman's writing is elegant and breezy. FRENCH LESSONS is a lovely journey."
—San Francisco Magazine
Advance Praise:

"Ellen Sussman's delightful book is as inviting as the smell of freshly
baked croissants wafting from a Parisian café. This is a novel to savor,
preferably while sipping a hot café au lait."
— Ann Packer, author of The Dive From Clausen's Pier

Charming, romantic, and brimming with Sussman’s trademark joie de vivre, French Lessons is a novel to savor.”
—Amanda Eyre Ward, author of Close Your Eyes

Touching, thoughtful, hilarious, and exquisite in its observations, Ellen Sussman’s day in Paris with the wonderful collection of characters that make up French Lessons is a treat. . . . Tres charmante!”
—Meg Waite Clayton, author of The Four Mrs. Bradwells

"What a delicious read! With sexual tension that crackles on the page,
I truly couldn't put down this literary page turner.
Bookclubs: bust out your calendars. This novel's going on your list."
— Lolly Winston, author of Good Grief

“My favorite novels are those that succeed in delivering life’s best pleasures
: making a new friend (the unexpected delight in encountering a sensibility both sly and sweet), being handed a surprise vacation (the joy of an exotic and stunning landscape), and, most exciting of all, finding oneself in the thrall of an intoxicating flirtation. French Lessons is just such a book.”
—Antonya Nelson, author of Living to Tell
French Lessons is elegant and evocative, and took me straight to Paris. Ellen Sussman has created wonderful characters who take us through the city as they discover hidden places, including those in their own hearts. I wanted to savor every stroll, every scene, It’s a lovely, delicious novel.”
—Luanne Rice, author of Sandcastles
“In French Lessons, Ellen Sussman has created an erotic, emotionally charged novel spanning two continents. The intriguing cast of characters, whose lives are intertwined by a common love for the world’s most beautiful language, make delicious reading from the first page to the last."
—Michelle Richmond, author of The Year of Fog