Title: Honeymoon in Paris: A Novella
Author: Jojo Moyes
First published: August 16th 2012, Penguin
Edition: Ebook, 75 pages
Age group: Adult
Honeymoon in Paris is a short prequel to Jojo Moyes’ novel The Girl You Left Behind and takes place 4 years before its events. In the foreground are two newlywed couples, spending their honeymoons in Paris. These characters are well familiar to me, as I read the main novel first, so I know their life stories. First it’s Sophie and Edouard getting used to their married life in Paris of 1912. Soon they discover that it’s not always a bed of roses, as the problems come to arise. Most of all they have to deal with their low financial savings, as Edouard being an artist used to give his paintings away to his friends without taking money for it. And it’s actually Sophie who takes matters into her hands. But this is just a minor thing as she can’t help being worried and uncomfortable with Edouard’s too many female acquaintances. Edouard’s paintings mostly depict very blunt images of beautifully emancipated women in little to no clothes on. And what bothers Sophie the most is the fact that Edouard still maintains contact with all of his models even after the marriage. Sophie knows he had intimate relationships with most of them, and she can’t be unsure if she would be enough for him. Especially considering that she was once his model, too. She loves Edouard dearly, and though he keeps assuring her he feels the same way, Sophie’s all out of sorts.
A century later in 2006 just married Liv Halston spends her honeymoon in Paris all alone while her new husband David is constantly on business meetings. Liv is sad and angry, as she didn’t imagine their five days getaway quite like that. She feels lonely and uncomfortable going sightseeing all over Paris alone, until she stumbles on a painting at the Musee d’Orsay of a red-haired woman depicted in some moment of tension and displeasure. It’s title reads ‘Wife, out of sorts’, and Liv realizes that she strangely resembles this woman. Unexpectedly, she’s become a wife out of sorts,too. She doesn’t want to be or to feel like this, so maybe it’s time for her to rethink the marriage she found herself in.
Both couples while spending very unfortunate honeymoons come to realize at the same time the true meaning of marriage and it’s nature. There’s definitely love between them, but it’s not only that. Sometimes it’s also about compromise, understanding and balance. It takes the four of them some time to come to it, but in the end their honeymoons really take on the right path.
The story is very short yet very precise to its theme. Just like The Girl You Left Behind it switches from 1912 to 2006 in a matter of a chapter, but what really impressed me is the fact, that aside time settings there’s nothing much different about the romantic relationships. Love is always the same just as the conflicts are. And I came to a realization that all of them are mostly the works of mind, they are the very outcomes of stubbornness or unwillingness to compromise. These factors ruin a lot of marriages nowadays, and it’s actually great that in this novel they are solved.
Once again I find the 1912 story more enjoyable than that of 2006, maybe it’s just that it was the time of the Belle Epoque or just the way Paris and people were described. Liv and David’s story seems a bit too present, lacking the necessary charm and romanticism.
All in all, I liked the story, it was a great addition to the main novel, but I’m glad I read it second. It just gave finishing touches to The Girl You Left Behind, telling more about the character’s earlier lives. But I also consider this story an optional read, the main book is more epic and charming, embracing a grander story. Jojo Moyes, though, has become my new favorite author.