Thursday 9 October 2014

Review & Author Interview ~ It Started With Paris by Cathy Kelly.

I'm beyond happy to be taking part in the blog tour for It Started With Paris by Cathy Kelly. I'll be reviewing the book and also Cathy has answered a few of my questions. Don't forget to follow the rest of this brilliant tour - the schedule's at the end of the post.

Title: It Started With Paris.
Author: Cathy Kelly.
Publisher: Orion.
Genre: Women's Fiction.
Publication Date: October 9, 2014.
Source: Review copy/Netgalley.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Purchase: Amazon UK

It all started with Paris. At the top of the Eiffel Tower, a young man proposes to his girlfriend, cheered on by delighted tourists. In that second, everything changes, not just for the happy couple, but for the family and friends awaiting their return in Bridgeport, Ireland...

Leila’s been nursing a badly broken heart since her love-rat husband just upped and left her one morning, but she’s determined to put on a brave face for the bride.

Vonnie, a widow and exceptional cake-maker, is just daring to let love back into her life, although someone seems determined to stop it.

And Grace, a divorced head teacher, finds the impending wedding of her son means that she’s spending more time with her ex-husband. After all those years apart, is it possible she’s made a mistake?

With her warmth and insight, Cathy Kelly weaves a delightful tale spinning out from a once-in-a-lifetime moment, drawing together a terrific cast of characters who feel like old friends. It Started With Paris is the sparkling new novel from No.1 bestseller Cathy Kelly.

What can you tell us about It Started With Paris?

A book with a sparkling picture of the Eiffel Tower on it has got to be wildly romantic, you’d think, but I love writing about the real world and even though there’s romance in this book, there’s lots of reality too. I wanted to explore the world of divorce and the idea of what happens when you’re divorced – do you date again, how does that feel, do you ever regret getting separated from your husband in the first place? There are three main characters – Grace, who is in her fifties and has the perfect divorce in that she and her husband did it all in a very civilised way. No throwing of plates and fighting over the kids. When their son gets engaged and it’s all set for a wedding, Grace spends more time with her ex and wonders, what if…?

Then there’s Vonnie, who’s nearly forty, is a widow and has a son and has come to my setting – an entirely fictional place called Bridgeport – to try to recover from her husband’s tragic death. She falls in love with a man who is separated from his wife. But his former wife is not yet ready to see her husband with someone new.

Then there’s Leila, who is 29, had a whirlwind romance and got married, only for her husband to dump her. That was six months ago and though she’s putting on a brave face, she’s devastated. These three women link up in my fictional town of Bridgeport (the sort of place we’d all like to live, gorgeous and with a lovely sense of community) and we see how they get on when things go a bit wrong…

It Started With Paris feels like your typical warm, full of heart read – how does this book stand out from your others?

I try to be original in every book while at the same time still tapping into a sense of community for the characters. I find that setting my stories in an imagined village or town that can be used as a link, appeals to me as a writer and hopefully to my readers!. I also aim to reflect modern concerns and explore challenges that relate to women of different ages. I think that like most writers, my novels have changed and matured as I’ve grown older and have learned more stuff. I also think/hope that there’s a lot of humour in this book. You get funnier as you get older, honestly. So I hope people will put down It Started With Paris and feel happy, comforted and that the world is a nicer place. That cheers me up in a book.

What was your inspiration behind It Started With Paris?

In The Honey Queen, I was writing about a woman who was recently widowed and I began to think I’d love to write about women who were alone, not necessarily due to their husband/partner’s dying. That set it all in motion in my head and I began to create all these lovely characters who are alone and are wondering where to go next.

The cover for It Started With Paris is my favourite of yours yet – how pleased were you with the look of it and how well it represents the book?

Thank you! I have a new publishing home and I think Orion/Hachette wanted to give my first book with them a completely new look.

I know, the cover is wonderful and none of my work, so I am able to praise it! I get copy approval on covers like most authors and I think cover designers are wonderful. I love art and did once toy with the idea of studying art as it was once of my best subjects at school but decided that while I was technically OK, I wasn’t any great shakes really. So for those reasons, have such admiration for people who work in cover design because it’s an impossible job.

How does your writing process work?

I write when my darling sons are in school so I am free to collect them when they finish class, find out how their days were on the way home in the car and do normal mum stuff like be available to for any homework queries. Even though this is my sixteenth novel, I still have some bad writing habits which include a cunning way of editing myself which means I think of something, decide it’s bad and don’t even write it down before deleting it. It’s sort of cutting out the middle man, which is the typing it down bit! I keep most of the story in my head because it evolves and I find that if you are tied to a storyline, you can kill the natural progression of the novel.

Once your book is out there and published, what do you find most rewarding?

Being very sociable, I do enjoy publicity, talking to lovely book blogs, meeting booksellers and crucially, to meet and hear from readers. I love hearing from readers. It really makes my day.

Is it too soon to be thinking about what’s coming next… Can you tell us anything about what you’re working on now?

The way publishing works is that most authors are often on their next book while promoting a new book. In my case, my next manuscript is due to my publishers in early Spring. I have not had a chance to do any writing this week but last week I did a writing binge – the aim being that if I don’t have a good writing day one day, that over a week I will be able to make up the time. Similarly if I don’t have a productive week, it will even out within the month. I don’t talk about what I’m working on generally – not because I think someone will run off with the idea! – but more because until I’m about three-quarters of the way through, it can all change very easily!!

Cathy Kelly is one of my all-time favourite authors and so I was really excited to be invited to take part in the blog tour for her latest novel It Started With Paris – and just look at that cover – this book was impossible to resist. The book begins with a romantic prologue in which Michael proposes to Katy at the top of the Eiffel Tower, no less. I adored the prologue but I also liked the concept of this book and how what was about to follow wasn’t going to focus on the perfect love story but how their engagement impacted on the lives of their family and friends. It Started With Paris had a warm, charming feel to it which Cathy is so good at portraying.

Though the prologue struck me right away, this was a slow-burner of a novel. It was set at quite a slow pace which didn’t really pick up at any stage during the book. The only fast-moving thing about the first couple of hundred pages was the introduction of character after character. At the beginning, I really couldn’t keep up and form any opinions or feelings towards most of the characters. There were so many new names and I was trying to remember what linked them all together but I did struggle for a while. Despite that, the characters right from the start were developed brilliantly. We learn a lot about them, and the pace helped with that, and It Started With Paris was a really character-driven novel with believable personalities and paths taken. I could picture my extended family and see similarities with the little feuds and issues but yet still pick up on the love and warmth that was there under the surface. It always felt like an uplifting, heart-warming story was going to break out and I was hoping that was going to be the case.

Although this book broke off to focus on the lives of three women, Leila, Vonnie and Grace, Leila’s story felt much more interesting to me and hers was the only journey I was invested in right from the start. As soon as we meet her, we see that she has been beaten down having been left by her husband – the husband she was so desperate to hold onto, despite her loved ones’ belief that he was no good for her. On top of that, an accident sees her mum Dolores in need of her help, but Leila is battling the guilt at not being there for her enough throughout her life. I just felt for Leila straight away and wanted her to get a break and see that things would pick up and she wouldn’t always feel like a let-down and that there was somebody else who was much better suited to her than Tynan. I did connect with Leila a lot and would consider her my favourite character, although I absolutely loved Dolores. Her optimism, despite circumstance, was inspiring and her use of the phrase You have to have rain to get the rainbow really set the tone for the book.

It Started With Paris is a generally moving novel and there are a lot of themes that Cathy explores – from heartbreak and illness to hope, strength and renewed optimism. I felt like the flow of the story was near-perfect, with the seamless switches in character. The book is written in the typical Cathy Kelly style which I loved but the difference between my feelings on this novel compared to her others is that I couldn’t connect with most of the characters as much as I had hoped for. I did however love the focus on friendship and family, combined with the romance which is much more understated than the cover might suggest. The simple touches of humour injected into the plot were great to pick the mood up and It Started With Paris felt like the kind of book ideal for a cold winter’s day where you can settle in and escape the real world, with plenty to discuss once it’s over.

Review also posted on Goodreads | Amazon UK

Cathy Kelly is published around the world, with millions of books in print. A No.1 bestseller in the UK, Ireland and Australia, her trademark is warm Irish storytelling about modern life, always with an uplifting message, sense of community and strong female characters at the heart.

She lives with her family and their three dogs in County Wicklow, Ireland. She is also an Ambassador for UNICEF Ireland, raising funds and awareness for children orphaned by or living with HIV/AIDS. Find out more at


  1. Love the cover its very eye catching. The story sounds interesting. For some reason irish authors always seem great.

    1. The cover's beautiful, though probably makes the book look like it will be more light-hearted than it actually is. I really need to read more Irish fiction - I've loved all the authors I've read so far!


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