The Pear Affair

The Pear Affair
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Release Date
June 14, 2022
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Nell is determined to find her beloved missing au pair in this vibrant adventure set in, and underneath, Paris.
Penelope Magnificent spends as little time as possible with her awful parents—a grocery-mogul father and a fashion-obsessed mother who loves expensive purses more than she does her daughter. But when they mention an important trip to Paris, Nell begs to come along. Paris holds something very dear to her: her old au pair Perrine—Pear—who lives there. Pear used to write to Nell every week, promising to come to her rescue, but recently the letters stopped. With the help of a savvy bellboy named Xavier, Nell sets out from her parents’ ultra-fancy Parisian hotel to find her beloved Pear. But Pear’s old neighbors and coworkers are strangely tight-lipped. And as Nell’s search for the truth takes her and Xavier to some of the darkest, most mysterious parts of the city, a sinister plot comes to light involving the destruction of a cherished—and delicious—part of Parisian life. Food, fashion, and intrigue abound in this delightful caper from the author of The Secret Starling.

Editor review

1 review
Time Travel to Roald Dahl's London
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It's 1969, Nell has the worst parents ever. Melinda and Gerald Magnificent have forgotten to pick her up from her boarding school, and the head tells her she must leave. Even after she makes her way back to the family's mansion, her parents are irritated that they have to deal with her. It's no wonder that she pines for her nanny, Perrine, who has gone back to Paris. When Nell finds out that her parents are traveling to that city to take care of business interests, she begs to go with them, promising to stay out of their way. They stay at a fancy hotel, and Nell has done her research on how to find Pear, from whom she has not had a letter in far too long. She knows the couture house at which Pear was working as an embroiderer, but when she goes there, she is tossed out as an embarassment. With the help of a bus boy, Xavier, Nell is able to survive when her parents try to leave without her. Because she doesn't want to leave until she finds Pear, she takes her mother's favorite purse, thinking that it will prevent them from leaving, and give her extra supplies and money if she needs them. Things get weird when two ladies start following Nell, looking for her parents. Xavier has a network of children who hang out in the tunnels beneath Paris, but these are being shut down by the mayor. There is also a mold "Thing" that is infecting all of the bakeries in the city. How is Pear connected to these things? Will Nell be able to find her? And why are Nell's parents so utterly terrible to her?
Good Points
Like this author's The Secret Starling, The Pear Affair is a well developed mystery set in a very specific place and time. There's a decide Roald Dahl feel to Nell's situation, and Pear has a lot in common with Matilda's Miss Honey. Nell herself pays homage to Fitzhugh's Harriet the Spy with her jeans and sweatshirt, so the 1960s vibe is quite strong. The group of children hanging out in the tunnels, the brush with celebrity, and the weirdness of the mold infecting the bakeries all come together in a rather delightful vintage romp.

As an older person, I could tell that the author didn't actually live through this time period, although most of the historical details are good. At one point, the father is described as juggling three calculators while out and about; if there were personal calculators in 1969, they would have had to be plugged in, so this seems possible but not probable.

I enjoyed this one very much, and traveling to London during the 1960s was delightful. This was very similar to the work of David Walliams, so a good choice where British style of adventure and humor is popular. This might also be a good choice for readers who enjoyed Snicket's The Series of Unfortunate Events.
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