Title: Isla and the Happily Ever After
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Series: Anna and the French Kiss, #3
Release Date: August 4th 2015
From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever. Their romantic journey is skilfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and Étienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
This review may contain spoilers for previous book(s) in the series.
My Thoughts On…
Of all of the Anna and the French Kiss books I think this one was definitely my favourite. It seemed like the characters had grown up a lot since the first book, and the story had improved as well. I instantly loved Isla and Josh and though their relationship wasn’t easy their problems were not due to lack of communication. I didn’t find myself annoyed by the back and forth between them, but at the same time it wasn’t just Isla and Josh in search of their happily ever after but Anna and Étienne, and Lola and Cricket.
Isla is back in Paris for her senior year at the School of America in Paris. She attends her classes, eats her meals with her only friend Kurt, and keeps her head down. But this year is different, this year she finally catches the eye of Josh, the boy she’s been secretly hiding a crush on for years now. All of Josh’s friends have left school and gone off to university, he broke up with his girlfriend and he is on his own in Paris, at a city at a school he doesn’t want to be at. But he starts seeking Isla out, the two start dating and both their lives seem to be perfect.
The relationship between them blooms quickly, the two running around museums and kissing with a backdrop of fireworks, hanging out in Isla’s treehouse – Josh painting and her reading or studying – taking a weekend trip to Barcelona just to be alone together. The two of them pick out their future and Josh convinces Isla to take risks, to plan for a future with him instead of one she isn’t sure about.
But soon their perfect life comes crashing down around them. Josh finally crosses the line that he’s been balancing on to stay in SOAP and before either of them knows it Isla remains in school in Paris and Josh is taken back to New York with this parents. Alone Isla misses Josh and she soon starts to wonder what their future really holds. Is Josh really with her because he loves her, or because he craves love and doesn’t want to be on his own?
Isla has spent three years pining after Josh, and when she finally starts dating him, when he finally notices her, she could not be more happy. However soon her insecurities get in the way. Isla doesn’t seem to feel like she is good enough, she is lost in the shadow of her perfect older sister and her headstrong younger sister. She only has one friend after her other dropped her and unlike seemingly everyone else in her year she doesn’t know what she wants to do with the rest of her life.
The more time Isla spends with Josh the more she seems to open up, but she still battles with her insecurities. This time it’s around Josh and his relationship with Rashmi which, although over, still had a major impact on his whole life.
Josh at first glance seems like nothing more than a slacker; he doesn’t show up to lessons on time, or at all sometimes, and he has received so many final warnings from the school which haven’t seemed to change anything for him. But he is actually one of the smartest students at SOAP. He is clearly smart and speaks perfect French but he doesn’t seem to care about the school, what he cares about is his art. He has spent years drawing a comic book of his life and has his future all planned out.
He doesn’t have a good relationship with his parents. For his dad his career and re-election as a senator seems to come first. Josh doesn’t belong in his father’s carefully planned world but it’s clear that both his father and his mother clearly care for him and have the upmost respect for his art.
I loved the relationship between Josh and Isla, the two work so well together but there is still a lot that seemed to hold them back from one another. For Josh it’s his parents, and his return to New York while Isla remains in Paris. For Isla it’s her insecurity, she wonders what Josh sees in her when she doesn’t see anything extraordinary in herself. She starts getting jealous of Josh’s past relationship with Rashmi when it seems to be such a large aspect of what made him who he is now. The two need each other, and they make each other better people, it’s just their insecurities and dark sides they need to get through first.
One of the things I didn’t like about Lola and the Boy Next Door was that the setting didn’t feel as developed as it was in Anna and the French Kiss. Isla and the Happily Ever After brought back everything I loved about Paris but also about New York and Barcelona. While at school Isla and Josh travel all over Paris, from The Centre Pompidou to the Seine and the steps of Saint-Étienne-du-Mont. But they also travel to Barcelona which was a brilliant few chapters filled with the two of them travelling all over the city, seeking out the architecture of Gaudí. I haven’t been to Barcelona but this book made me want to go tomorrow and see all the sites Isla and Josh did. I definitely want to check out some of Gaudí’s architecture at some point. There was so much happening in Isla and the Happily Ever After but like Anna and the French Kiss the setting was the perfect backdrop to their developing relationship.
Isla and the Happily Ever After was the best of the series and the perfect ending for not only Isla and Josh’s story but also Anna and Étienne’s and Lola and Cricket’s as well. I really enjoyed all these stories and seeing how the characters grow throughout but I loved returning to Paris and seeing Josh’s story continue with Isla.
What did you think of Isla and the Happily Ever After? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.