Harm's Way by Celia Walden
I always think that if you walk around thinking you can have anything you want, you usually can. Anna, at nineteen, has the kind of unquestioning self-confidence that is born of never having been hurt, and never having questioned her attractiveness to men: they have always come easily to her, and she has never shed a tear over any one of their departures. Experiencing her first taste of freedom in Paris, with a job at the Musee D'Orsay and a tiny studio flat in the Marais, she strikes up an unexpectedly close friendship with Beth, a woman twenty years her senior. While Beth enjoys Anna's girlish enthusiasm for everything Paris has to offer - its charming hidden squares and elegant gardens - Anna in return is drawn to Beth's warmth, grace and that intangible air she possesses of someone who has known loss. When Beth meets Christian in the blue light of a nightclub, she is struck by the perfection of his features and his rough banlieue accent, and she is besotted. But Anna finds it difficult to be happy for her friend. She becomes aware of a creeping feeling of bitterness about the new lovers and begins to test the strength of their bond - and her own fledgeling powers of seduction. But who is her real rival: Christian or Beth? Stunningly evocative - both of Paris in the sultry summer and of the naive solipsism of the teenage years - Harm's Way traces Anna's story as she learns one of life's harder lessons: that if you believe you can have anything you want, you may end up with nothing but regret.