The Pear Affair

I was lucky enough to request and receive a copy of this from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. All views and opinions are my own.

The Pear Affair by Judith Eagle, artwork by Kim Geyer

I’m trying to decide what to read next and a couple of days on I still just want to read this! A twisty mystery with a fantastic setting, some wonderful (and some equally despicable) characters and a plot that will keep you hooked – I’d been looking forward to reading this after enjoying The Secret Starling last year and this was even better!

Penelope Magnificent – named after the handbag her mother loves more than her, but going by her preferred moniker of Nell – is unexpectedly home from boarding school for the holidays, meaning her awful parents are forced to take her along on their business trip to Paris.

This suits Nell fine as she’s always been fascinated with the city thanks to ‘Pear’; Perrine to give her her full title, looked after Nell (practically brought her up in fact) before she was sent to boarding school and Pear returned to Paris. Since then they’ve written regularly and always secretly planned to reunite, but a few months ago, Pear’s letters suddenly stopped and now Nell has a chance to find her and find out why…

Meanwhile in Paris, all is not well with the city’s bakeries. ‘The Thing’ – a spore causing them to go mouldy almost immediately – is doing the rounds and family run bakeries all over the city are gradually closing, although new chain Pain-tastique seems unaffected and is thriving with all the new custom (incidentally, Paintastique and Vintastique really tickled me – loved that!)…a coincidence?

I thought the way the two mysteries overlapped and interwove gradually through the book was excellent. While we start off solely focussed on Pear’s mysterious disappearance, it soon becomes clear that there’s something strange going in with the bakeries and not long after that we start to see that somehow the two might be connected – but how and why?! While, as an adult reader, I had my suspicions about aspects of this early on, and pieced together more as we got nearer to the conclusion, there were so many layers to it I couldn’t possibly have figured out the whole thing.

Judith talks about her love for Paris in the author Q&A at the back of the book and it is evident in her writing too. The city truly comes alive in the story; I’ve never been to Paris, but I felt I was there soaking it all in. I especially enjoyed the contrast of the luxurious hotel Nell starts off staying in, then ends up hiding out and working in, and the streets and tunnels she explores with her new friends.

And it is these friends and their underground tunnels, dens and adventures that I loved best about the book. Xavier, who Nell meets working at the hotel, quickly becomes the best sort of friend; Paul and Paulette are exuberant twins who I adored and Soutine is initially cool towards Nell but comes round in his way, and then there’s Emil – friendly, helpful, open and cheerful. Combined they make for a lively, warm and funny group who you root for from the get go. Spirited, loyal and determined, each with their own interests (cartography, photography, cooking) and distinct personality, they are a fabulous group of characters.

And the underground tunnels they run in really spark the imagination – like Katherine Rundell’s Rooftoppers but under rather than over – there’s a sense of exploration, adventure, freedom and autonomy that I just loved and I know children reading it will too!

I also really liked Nell’s vulnerability at times as she ventured into the tunnels in the dark. The description of her fear at times was so realisitic, and the way she overcame it slowly but with grit, talking herself down and remembering things that would help her was superb – no quick ‘and then it was all ok’, we really see how her panic has affected her and the effort it takes to overcome it.

Kim Geyer’s illustrations suit the book perfectly, and although in my proof copy not all chapter header illustrations are there, the ones that are really add to the atmosphere and energy.

Overall, this was a thoroughly enjoyable adventure with an immersive and inspiring setting, characters you can’t help but love/hate and an exciting and gripping plot. I can’t wait to see what’s next from Judith!

8 thoughts on “The Pear Affair

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    1. I can see what you mean, but personally I didn’t mind that it didbt fly soong as I found the plot and setting do intriguing, I loved having time to really ‘explore’ Paris. I’m terms of Nell, again I get you but I didn’t mind – sometimes I really need characters to be believable and deep and others I just want characters I like the spirit and idea of in an enjoyable story. This was one of those if that makes sense.
      I hope you end up enjoying it more than you think!

      Liked by 1 person

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