Coffee, Cigarettes and Crisis by Jano Misho

The protagonist in this novel lives in Paris, France which means I was thereby obligated to read it. I studied French throughout most of high school and all of college, and took an amazing two week trip all over France with my mom before I graduated. Basically, anything France related, and I’m in. Throw in a little romance and you’ve got a book bound to be featured in a post on my blog. So let’s get started!Coffee, Cigarettes and Crisis

Sadly, I’ll only be able to refer to the protagonist as “the lead character” or “her” because we never actually learn her name. If we did, I totally missed it. Yikes! Anywho, the lead character is a young woman living in Paris when she experiences a quarter-life crisis. Why? I have absolutely no idea. Sure, she loses her job, and has some minor plumbing issues, but things quickly turn around for her. Not only does she have a close group of friends for support, but she also gets a French boyfriend with amazing blue eyes and facial scruff. Did you hear me? Facial…freakin’…scruff! So I apologize if I don’t exactly sympathize with your quarter-life crisis, which might as well be a mid-life crisis with all the cigarettes you smoke! You’ll be lucky to make it to 50 before you get cancer!! Ahem, sorry, don’t know what quite came over me there. Oh, did I mention that shortly after losing her job our protagonist has her paintings featured in an art gallery, and writes a novel on top of it? GAH!! Cry me a river.

Putting aside the life crisis that wasn’t really a life crisis, I would say this book is more a tale of self-discovery. To me, a life crisis means that everything is falling apart around you. Instead, what we have here is a young woman who is finally given an opportunity to get out of her comfort zone and discover what she really wants to do with her life. Her previous job working at a magazine was comfortable, and she had great co-workers, but it wasn’t necessarily her dream job. In hindsight, losing her job was probably a blessing in disguise. We then learn she has a talent for painting, but she questions whether this is something to do as a career, or merely as a hobby. That was probably one of my favorite parts of the book, when she was debating whether to turn her painting into a career just because she was good at it, or if she should just keep it to herself so the pleasure she gains from it isn’t lost. We’ve all probably experienced moments in life like this, but our protagonist just happens to be experiencing them in Paris. Therefore, no right to complain!

Although the novel is set in Paris, I must say I don’t think that fact was used to its full potential. Sure, one of the protagonist’s favorite things to do was go to Montparnasse and people watch (which I totally understand), but I know there are other things to do in that city. Our lead mainly hangs out in her apartment, goes out for coffee and cigarettes, and chats with an old dude who happens to own a strip club. Girl, go to a museum or something! Even the scenes in Montparnasse could have been described in more detail. Having been there myself, I personally could envision the scenes when our protagonist had coffee there. As someone from the US, normally when you picture a Parisian street in your head, you’ll probably find the real image somewhere in Montparnasse. All of the streets curve into old buildings of architectural beauty, with idyllic flower boxes under all of the windows, and balconies of intricate lattice-work. However, if you’ve never been to Paris and you read this book, I’m not sure you’d be able to picture such a clear image in your head.

This novel is characterized as chick-lit, which definitely works, but I feel like it should have been funnier to truly enter the chick-lit book shelf. The comedic relief in the book was the protagonist’s friend Max (finally! a name), a playboy in every way who seems to make everyone laugh and forget their worries. I loved his character and want to speak French with him. Immediately.

As for the lead character herself, I wish we had learned more about her background. Why did she come to Paris? What led her there? If she’s having a quarter-life crisis, we need to understand more about the first quarter of her life, rather than just the last couple months. I thought it was pretty interesting that this information was left out seeing that whenever the protagonist would people watch, she’d always try and figure out their back story. This missing info made it difficult for me to connect with her as a lead character. In my opinion she seemed kind of whiny, and by the end of the book completely naive. Listen up ladies, and even you gentlemen out there because I am going to share a universal truth with you that our main character never seemed to have learned in life: if you are dating someone, and you happen to come across their ex in a public restroom, every word that comes out of their mouth is complete and total bull shit. Sounds pretty obvious, right? Well, not to this chica. Or I guess I should say mademoiselle.

There were some very obvious grammar and writing issues throughout the book, but when you looked past all of that to the plot lying underneath, it wasn’t that bad of a story. Now, if you don’t like Paris, or books of self-discovery then you might want to avoid this one. However, I must say I found it rather refreshing to read about a female lead learning about life and making her way in Paris rather than a male douche like Hemingway. Oh, sorry, that’s a rant for another day.

*An ARC of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Yes, although I’m not really sure why. Everything pretty much comes together in the end.

Should you read it? If you’ve been to Paris, and liked it, sure.

Smut Level: Pretty nonexistent, although you can just imagine the smut that happens between our protagonist and her facial-scruffed Frenchman behind closed doors. Mmmm, better than a chocolate croissant any day.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here

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