"This is a tale of two cities, two girls and a life-altering swap.
Daisy's just landed the perfect job: spending a year in Paris writing about fashion. Swapping homes with French student Isabelle seems like the perfect arrangement. Sensible Isabelle, however, finds London bewildering. But all her assumptions about crazy English guys are overturned when she meets hunky gardener Tom.
Meanwhile, fun-loving Daisy discovers that Paris is the City of Love, and more than one Monsieur Right..."
I admit that the first thing that made me want to read the book was the cover! I've seen the title around, but it didn't really intrigue me until I saw the cover and then I read the plot description and I was hooked instantly - the book just sounded perfect! I had rather high hopes for it and I'm pleased to say I wasn't disappointed in the slightest - au contraire! ;)
The story follows two girls, Isabelle from France and Daisy from England, who decide to swap their flats for a year. The serious scholar Isabelle wants to move to England to work on her thesis about some mysterious British author and fashionista Daisy is very excited about moving to Paris so she can experience the fashion capital of the world first hand and document her observations on her blog. The two girls couldn't be more different so adjusting to their new lives and flats and friends is a bit of a culture shock at first, but they manage just fine eventually. While Daisy has a lot of fun working in fashion and meeting some suave French guys, Isabelle is far more productive and really wants to find the missing manuscript of The Splodge, but she doesn't know how much this mission will rock her world ...
Firstly, the plot - I loved it! Yes, it was a bit predictable at times and there were some loose ends, but I really enjoyed reading about the girls' very different experiences abroad. I liked how the chapters alternated between Isabelle and Daisy, and I don't think I was bored for a single second. I could honestly read the book in one sitting if I had the time. I'm not saying the plot is terribly thrilling, but I certainly found it very enjoyable. I loved reading about Daisy's relationships with the French guys and I was rather intrigued by Isabelle's literary mystery too! However, I thought the ending was slightly rushed (so much action resolved too quickly) and far-fetched (I didn't see "the twist" coming, but I didn't really like it anyway) and corny (especially the epilogue). But luckily that didn't spoil the book for me and I still really enjoyed it.
I have slightly mixed feelings about the characters too. My favourite character was probably Chrissie, the textbook gay friend, but he was just so much fun, I really enjoyed his scenes! I quite liked both Isabelle and Daisy too and I thought the goth band that Jules was in was fantastic too, loved them! Daisy's two loverboys were quite nice too, but on the other hand I wasn't particularly keen on Isabelle's friends in France, they were all so boring. I particulary dislike Clothaire, Isabelle's boyfriend, who was not only a massive idiot, but also rather one-dimensional and too easy to hate.
In her review, Leah mentioned that her least favourite thing about this book was the writing since the author wasn't a native speaker so I was expecting some strange sentences or something, but I honestly couldn't find anything. I thought the writing was superb and rich and I personally found it a lot better than e.g. Sophie Kinsella's writing, which is usually quite flat as far as richness of the language goes (even though her stories are superb), but I really cannot fault the writing here. Sure, some sentences of the French characters were a bit choppy, but I think that was the point, to illustrate that their English wasn't perfect and it makes sense. Other than that, if I hadn't known that the author wasn't born in England, I would never have guessed it myself.
Oh and as for the title - it may not be the best one ever since this book is so much more than just dealing with the search for Monsieur Right, but at least it's more original than the usual Life Swap (I've read two books with the same title - one by Abby McDonald and the other by Jane Green; both were great) and I suppose it nicely illustrates that the story takes place both in England and France.
All in all, this is escapism par excellence and I definitely recommend it if you're a chick lit fan or just looking for a lovely light read! It's a great debut and I can't wait to read more by this author!
plot: 4/5 | writing: 5/5 | characters: 4/5 | cover: 5/5