The title of Patricia Engel’s It’s Not Love, It’s Just Paris (Grove Press) suggests a fun, quirky romance in the world’s most glamorous city. But it’s a thoughtful look at the tough choices and emotions humans go through to attain love.
Lita del Cielo is a college student from New Jersey who spends a year living in a house run by a 90-year-old socialite and filled with other young adults. Even though Lita comes from a family that runs a huge Latin American food company, she feels out of place compared to her more sophisticated housemates. Then she meets Cato, a Frenchman. Of course, not everything is perfect — Cato is in fragile health. Lita must decide whether to stay in Paris with the love of her life or return to the United States and be with her family.
Although the book was more serious than I expected, it was an easy read. Engel has some great observations about love, and she shows how Lita’s heritage — her family is from Colombia — affects her in different ways, from racist remarks from her housemates to her emotions as she goes through tough moments:
“Of course I cried. Until my eyes swelled and my face ached. In English the world for crying feels trite, empty. The Spanish llorando is so much better. To say it feels like a cry, the way you have to open up your mouth and throat, concluding on the tip of the tongue, the back of the teeth. The French pleurer sounds too pretty, restrained, a costume of sadness. I wanted to invent a new word for crying without tears. The broken feeling. The disillusion.”
It’s Not Love is a mature, unique take on love — and how wonderful and awful it can be at the same time.
Engel, like her character Lita, is the daughter of Colombian parents who grew up in New Jersey. Her first book, Vida, won numerous literary prizes and her short stories have appeared in numerous publications. She lives in Florida.
Source: I received a review copy from the publisher.