Pleasant, earnest characters grappling with life and relationships. Nice clothes, good food and drink, interesting jobs. Discreet sexual tension. And the chance to spend a few hours wandering around Paris with these pleasant people — who wouldn’t leap at the chance? Katharine Davis’s Capturing Paris is an intensely appealing read along the lines of, say Rosamunde Pilcher or Joanna Trollope. But for someone whose computer wallpaper is a photo snapped in the Palais-Royal, it’s more than that, it’s catnip.
Annie Reed and her lawyer husband Wesley have lived in Paris for most of their married life but things get tough when Wesley’s job vanishes. Just as he is struggling with this, Annie’s avocation of writing poetry blossoms into an actual career. Handled well, as it is here, this portrayal of a bumpy transition in a marriage can make for pleasant fiction. What makes Capturing Paris special is Davis’s huge appreciation of Paris. No detail is too small, from the strange dusty smell of the Metro to the damp gray winter weather to the French obsession with scarves for both men and women. The dramatic tension is not terribly tense and the novel’s resolution by way of a kind of deus ex machina feels maybe too easy. But Davis’s ambitions are not enormous. This is a domestic drama in an attractive setting, and highly enjoyable.