Sometimes those books end up firing my imagination in unexpected ways and I can't help seeing their cinematic possibilities. Paulita Kincer's Paris Runaway struck me that way from its opening paragraphs.
"A gust of hot wind from the open door made the gray floor churn. I stood on the threshold staring at the billowing surface as I tried to comprehend how a floor could move.
A stronger breeze followed, and feathers, gray feathers, the color of the concrete surface, swirled into the air and then wafted down to land gently."After that intriguing image conjuring feathers flying through the air, we meet Sadie, a fifty-something divorced woman who finds herself flying to France in pursuit of her 17 year old runaway daughter, Scarlett. Not your typical 'runaway', Scarlett is chasing after a French exchange student, with a very special mission in mind.
Here's the lowdown on the novel from Barnes and Noble– (I read the book on my Nook):
When divorced mom Sadie Ford realizes her 17-year-old daughter Scarlett has run away to Paris all she can imagine are terrorist bombings and sex slaves. After learning her daughter chased a French exchange student home, Sadie hops on the next plane in pursuit. She joins forces with the boy’s father, Auguste, and the two attempt to find the missing teens. The chase takes Sadie and Auguste to the seedier side of Marseille, where their own connection is ignited. Since the divorce, Sadie has devoted herself to raising kids and putting her dreams on hold, but when her daughter needs her most, Sadie finds that concrete barrier to life beginning to crack. In her journey, she learns the difference between watching the hours pass and living.
I loved this fast-moving, comical romp complete with grown up romance. The plot put me in mind of those movies of the 50's and 60's: a young woman flies the coop, chasing after some boy, and getting herself mixed up in all sorts of trouble along the way. Think Gidget looking for her French Moon Doggy. Except in this story, the American mother of the girl and the French father of the boy, thrown together in their mutual chase after their wayward kids, find more than they were looking for.
Initially, there's the requisite Franco-American tension as in this blame-casting exchange between Auguste and Sadie:
‘"...If he (Luc) hadn't gone to school in the States, he would still be in class."
I thought Auguste shot an accusing look at me, and it raised my hackles.
"Well, if he hadn't spent the year in the States, Scarlett wouldn't have followed him back here so it would all be a moot point." I crossed my arms over my chest, feeling the need to protect my daughter, just as Auguste defended his son.
But as Sadie and Auguste navigate the streets of Paris and Marseille—while dealing with impossible kids, troublesome ex-spouses, the correct way to drink wine, parenting do's and don'ts, and some truly bird-brained bad guys—they finally find their way to a delicious detente.
I loved Sadie, the attractive redhead with her middle aged insecurity—that nervousness about her looks that most of us battle after 50—her fierce devotion to her daughters, and her struggle to be a good mother and still manage to satisfy her own needs as a fully evolved woman. I fell a little in love with Auguste too; the initally laid back but ultimately caring and attractive Frenchman, the perfect foil. I'm especially intrigued at the idea of seeing their relationship onscreen; I enjoy seeing characters closer to my age, enjoying time together, feeling charged over meeting someone new, feeling sexy, being sexual. I think there's a large market of 'older' audiences who would enjoy this story onscreen. Why should the kids have all the fun, we've worked hard all our lives. We deserve it!
Seeing France through Sadie's eyes was part of the novel's charm. While Kincer is no novice when it comes to writing about France, she never talks down to the reader, rather she invites you to share the fun of discovery. While I've never been to Marseille and had my own preconceived notions, the book changed my viewpoint. I might even have to move Marseille onto my bucket list. I want to see the port city for myself, if not in person, at least in the film version of Paulita's book!
If the novel is optioned for a movie, I've got some ideas about which actors to cast in the lead roles but first I want to hear who Paulita would choose for her dream cast. Paulita has kindly agreed to share her wish list for next week's Dreaming of France post—I've got a feeling at least one name on our list—that of the sexy Auguste—will match up!
If you haven't read the novel yet Paris Runaway is available on Amazon. as well as Barnes and Noble. I highly recommend it if you're look for something fast, fun yet deeply satisfying.
Give it a read, then come on back and let us know who you'd cast as Sadie and Auguste.
In the meantime, I'm giving Paris Runaway a permanent place under the Books We Wish Were Movies tab. I don't want to spoil it for you but there's a scene set at the Arc D'Triomphe that I can't wait to see onscreen!