Ah where do I even start with this one? This book is honestly a total gamble - you'll either enjoy it or you won't, there's really no other option. And I understand both reactions, despite the fact that I found this one enjoyable.
"Vidalia in Paris" is a book that will get you into that European, specifically French, mood, create an atmosphere, and throw in French references and some phrases that will make you feel that you're reading a book where the author actually knows what she's writing about. However, the plot and the characters and really iffy in this one.
The beginning was fine, enjoyable even. Vidalia goes to Paris, attends two courses, is living the exchange life with the whole hype and adrenaline that comes from being abroad, especially in a city like Paris. And up to about half way this atmosphere was energetic and kept me reading. It's what comes after that that's the problem. It felt rushed, and too forced, like the author was running out of ideas almost. I expected the book to be predictable so unlike other reviewers I can't complain about that, but as it got closer to the ending I felt less satisfied. The only part I was happy with was the way Vidalia and Julien's relationship was resolved - I felt like she deserved it, and even felt a bit of a dislike for her character at that moment. The situation with Heather about three quarters of the way through didn't convey any kind of emotions as well, leaving me wondering why exactly that was in the book anyway. A lot of the writing begged the question "why?" and drew attention to the awkward approach to them. Other things, such as lose ends with Vidalia's mother, could've also been addressed I think. There was a lot of lost potential, I would say as a final verdict. It's a book that tries to cover a lot of ground and introduce you to characters and their relationships with the main heroine but a lot of it fades into the background, like Becky and her own life.
The plus side of this book though is the way in which it approaches the question of the art theft. I, for one, was very happy with the ending (which I won't spoil), because it was much more realistic. It showed the way things in life are generally resolved, rather than the too-often sugarcoated versions of art heist and theft movies. And unlike other reviewers I preferred the fact that the gallery and the painting were made up - it showed more thought and love for the culture from the author's side. If only that was conveyed the same way with the characters and the story.
Don't expect anything when you pick up this book. I really do mean it. Approach with an open mind. You'll be immersed into a an atmosphere of a teenage girl's mind abroad, and left scratching your head at some of the choices and "unexpected plot twists" that come with it. But it's a good, light read that still left me feeling satisfied and was a nice change from the other books I've been reading lately.