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It's Not Love, It's Just Paris
Cover of It's Not Love, It's Just Paris
It's Not Love, It's Just Paris
A Novel

A spellbinding story of a young American abroad and a star-crossed relationship: "This is a novel to get lost in." —The Miami Herald

Lita del Cielo is the daughter of two Colombian immigrants who arrived in America with nothing and made a fortune with their Latin food empire. Now Lita has been granted one year to pursue her studies in Paris before returning to work in the family business. She moves into a crumbling Left Bank mansion known as "The House of Stars," where the spirited but bedridden Countess Séraphine rents out rooms to young women visiting Paris to work, to study, and, unofficially, to find love.

Cautious and guarded, Lita keeps a cool distance from the other girls, who seem at once boldly adult and impulsively naïve, who both intimidate and fascinate her. Then Lita meets Cato, and the contours of her world shift. Charming, enigmatic, and weak with illness, Cato is the son of a notorious right-wing politician. As Cato and Lita retreat to their own world, they soon find it difficult to keep the outside world from closing in on theirs. Ultimately Lita must decide whether to stay in France with Cato or return home to fulfill her family's dreams for her future.

From the author of Vida, a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award, It's Not Love, It's Just Paris is a love story, a portrait of a Paris caught between the old world and the new, and an exploration of one woman's journey to lay claim to her own life.

"Wise and accomplished . . . Beautifully written." —The New York Times Book Review

A spellbinding story of a young American abroad and a star-crossed relationship: "This is a novel to get lost in." —The Miami Herald

Lita del Cielo is the daughter of two Colombian immigrants who arrived in America with nothing and made a fortune with their Latin food empire. Now Lita has been granted one year to pursue her studies in Paris before returning to work in the family business. She moves into a crumbling Left Bank mansion known as "The House of Stars," where the spirited but bedridden Countess Séraphine rents out rooms to young women visiting Paris to work, to study, and, unofficially, to find love.

Cautious and guarded, Lita keeps a cool distance from the other girls, who seem at once boldly adult and impulsively naïve, who both intimidate and fascinate her. Then Lita meets Cato, and the contours of her world shift. Charming, enigmatic, and weak with illness, Cato is the son of a notorious right-wing politician. As Cato and Lita retreat to their own world, they soon find it difficult to keep the outside world from closing in on theirs. Ultimately Lita must decide whether to stay in France with Cato or return home to fulfill her family's dreams for her future.

From the author of Vida, a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award, It's Not Love, It's Just Paris is a love story, a portrait of a Paris caught between the old world and the new, and an exploration of one woman's journey to lay claim to her own life.

"Wise and accomplished . . . Beautifully written." —The New York Times Book Review

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About the Author-
  • Patricia Engel was born to Colombian parents and raised in New Jersey. She has a degree in French and art history from New York University, and an MFA from Florida International University. Her debut novel, Vida was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway and New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Awards, winner of an Independent Publisher Book Awards Gold Medal for Literary Fiction, and was named a New York Times Editors' Choice and an LA Weekly Top Book of the Year.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    April 1, 2013
    Like all the girls who live at the decaying mansion nicknamed the House of Stars, 20-year-old Lita Del Cielo has come to Paris for adventure. But she’s also different from her fellow “greenbloods,” less interested in shopping and sleeping around than in living a “fluid, creative life.” Engel (Vida) has a knack for showing how Paris’s charms are both real and always verging on cliché; the house’s ancient, noble owner and Lita’s fellow residents, all full of advice, make for fun reading; and the story of Lita’s parents’ journey from poverty in Colombia to running a giant Latin American food distribution company in New Jersey has an appealing fairy tale quality. But what’s meant to be the story’s heart is Lita’s love affair with Cato, who is debilitated by the remnants of a childhood illness and is the son of one of France’s most notoriously anti-immigrant politicians. Despite (or perhaps because of) these difficulties, they fall in love. The problem is that it’s never fully clear why. For all Lita’s insistence that this is true love, readers may agree with the wised-up housemate who tells Lita that no matter how different she and Cato think they are, their romance is just another short-term affair between a resident of the House of Stars and her local boyfriend. Agent: Ayesha Pande, the Ayesha Pande Literary Agency.

  • Kirkus

    June 15, 2013
    A romance in Paris leaves an indelible mark on rich, young, smart-but-shy Lita del Cielo, in a downbeat coming-of-age tale by a noted new writer. At the run-down Parisian mansion known as the House of Stars, Old Europe hosts the gilded youth of the future, wealthy debs who are briefly distracting themselves with foreign studies, sex and shopping. Lita (who arrives the day after Lady Di's death) is a misfit in this glamorous company--the sincere, unsophisticated daughter of a Colombian orphan who has become the King of Latin Foods and a mother whose generosity to immigrants has earned her the title Our Lady of New Jersey. In her debut novel, following a well-received volume of stories (Vida, 2010), Engel trades on familiar elements: teenage alienation; old-world decadence; star-crossed lovers. She partners Lita with Cato de Manou, who is not only the son of a poisonously extreme right-wing French politician, but is also suffering from a major illness--pulmonary sarcoidosis. Cato and Lita's mutual passion, though strong, is tested by Cato's physical fragility and the disapproval of both families. They break up for a while then reunite. Eventually, Lita must return home. But they will always have Paris. There's a sense of deja vu to this sensitive but self-consciously doomy paean to first love.

    COPYRIGHT(2013) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    March 1, 2013
    Lots of readers have wanted to know what Engel would write after her arresting debut, "Vida", a PEN/Hemingway finalist. And here it is, an enticingly written work featuring Lita del Cielo, daughter of two Colombian orphans who made a fortune in America in the Latin food market. She's not hanging around, though, but going to Paris for a year to study before taking her place in the family business. In Paris, Lita rents a room in Countess Seraphine's decaying mansion-cum-boarding house and eventually finds love with sweet, introspective Cato, son of a virulent right-wing politician. Now what happens to her plans?

    Copyright 2013 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Edwidge Danticat

    "'We'll always have Paris,' lovers of this glorious city have been saying this to each other ever since Humphrey Bogart uttered those words in Casablanca. We rediscover a modern and eclectic Paris in Patricia Engel's astonishing first novel, a story as grand and dazzling as its setting, yet as intimate and powerful as a love story that just won't quit."

  • Time Out New York (Summer Reads List) "Engel approaches her love affair without florid prose or salacious encounters. Instead, she installs her shy, serious protagonist, Lita del Cielo, in a Parisian boarding house . . . lets her slowly fall for the quiet son of an infamous politician, and pits her new life abroad against her old one at home in the U.S. It's heady and cool approach brings real substance to the summer fling while making it an antidote to the usual seasonal fluff."
  • Publishers Weekly "Has an appealing fairy tale quality . . . Engel has a knack for showing how Paris's charms are both real and always verging on cliche."
  • Booklist Starred Review “Remarkable, razor-sharp...A compassionate read."
  • Miami Herald "As a coming-of-age novel, It's Not Love, It's Just Paris might sound as if its theme is rather well-trod, but the title puts you on notice. This is no saccharine tale of awakening. Rather, it's a clear-eyed recasting of a classic storyline executed with confidence and just enough city-of-lights magic by Miami author Patricia Engel to conjure up something that manages to be familiar and new. This is a novel to get lost in."
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A Novel
Patricia Engel
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