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A year or two ago I read a novel by Christine Sneed titled, “Little Know Facts.” It was one of the best books I’d read in a long long time. The story was compelling and sexy and the storytelling was vivid and original. Ms. Sneed has recently published another novel titled, “Paris, He Said.” Unfortunately, I can only describe my reaction to her latest work in one word: Subdued.

“Paris, He Said” is the unlikely story of Jayne, an attractive but dimwitted twenty-something year old aspiring painter from Los Angeles. With her degree in business firmly in hand (she only minored in art), Jayne decides to take the art world by storm by moving to New York City. But after only a few years of half-hearted effort, Jayne’s only real claim to fame is that she has somehow been able to consistently pay the minimum due on her student loans.

Jayne has a faithful but predictable boyfriend named Colin, whom she unceremoniously dumps one day after she meets a smooth-talking French art dealer named Laurent (who just happens to be twenty years her senior). Laurent quickly seduces Jayne and impetuously invites her to come live with him in Paris, in what he pathetically dictates must be a “committed but open” relationship. Jayne mulls over his invitation for a moment or two, and then gladly accepts.

Guess what happens next...

I’m not going to tell you. This is book review after all, not a synopsis.

The biggest disappointment with “Paris, He Said,” is that the book achieves nothing close to the dramatic tension of “Little Know Facts.” And Jayne is so foolish and unfocused it’s hard to care about what happens to her. It’s a shame she doesn't possess even an ounce of charm. Don’t get me wrong: Christine Sneed is a formidable writer. Her sentences flow like clear mountain stream water. But the plot of “Paris, He Said,” reads like a bad Woody Allen movie.

Christine Sneed lives in Evanston, Illinois. She has received numerous honors for her writing and teaches at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


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