In 1989 as the Berlin wall is about to fall and Salmon Rushdie's life has just been upended by a fatwa, Kate, a recent Yale graduate, is in Paris working as the personal assistant for a talented but self-centered photographer who is trying to capture the shifting zeitgeist on film. Lessons in French takes an inside look at the artistic, intellectual, and political circles of Paris during the late part of the last century, which would make it interesting even if that were all it had to offer, but it wasn’t what kept driving me back to the book whenever I had a free moment. What was most compelling for me was how well author Hilary Reyl captures the personalities of her characters, particularly Kate though many of the people in the book are fascinating. Seeing the world through Kate’s first person narrative reminded me of what it’s like to be young and trying to find your footing. Kate is still figuring out who she is, what she believes, and how she should act. Though highly educated she’s too young to know the world well, so when she’s thrust into a new situation with people unlike those she has met in the past, she enjoys her expanding horizons but sometimes makes missteps forcing her to question her preconceptions and choices. Having Kate’s growing awareness come about in a cultural Mecca like Paris made the book irresistible for me. I read an advanced review copy of this book supplied to me by the publisher, but the opinions are mine.