Skip to main content
Book ReviewsBooks

‘Paris Daillencourt is About to Crumble’ review: The latest by author Alexis Hall is thoughtful but messy

By November 8, 2022November 12th, 2022No Comments4 min read

The second installment of Alexis Hall’s ‘Winner Bakes All’ series, Paris Daillencourt is About to Crumble will be a telling exercise for readers who haven’t dealt firsthand with mental illness – be it from themselves or loved ones. While Hall’s expected wit remains at large and there’s no denying the sheer consumability of yet another one of his works, his prose and rhythm practiced and at ease, his latest pushes against what has typically deemed a likable leading character. 

Paris, as alluded to in the title, is a mess. Suffering from levels of abandonment issues and near-crippling anxiety, he’s only in his early twenties and it wouldn’t be surprising if he’d already given himself gray hair and a stomach ulcer. Directionless at university and holed up mainly with his cat and no-nonsense roommate, the latter has entered him into ‘Bake Expectations,’ the nation’s favourite baking show, to try and boost his confidence. Going along with it mainly because he fears saying no and the social repercussions of doing so along with his roommate’s disappointment, and less so because he thinks he stands a chance (he doesn’t) the book launches us into Paris’s brain as it fires out every worst case scenario it can think of. 

Of course, it wouldn’t be a book of Hall’s without romance, and despite his misgivings, generally terrible self-esteem, and inability to not quadruple-check every social interaction he finds himself in, Paris ends up falling for another contestant, Tariq Hassan. Tariq, much more comfortable in his skin and confident in his abilities seems to fall for Paris too and the two engage in a will they/won’t they/they will/but should they romance that, in the end, comes second to the ultimate draw and, likely, deterrence, of the novel. Because it’s Paris and his (slow) journey with his mental health and anxiety that Paris Daillencourt is About to Crumble is most keen on exploring and how it affects his relationship with himself and others. 

Breathlessly written, the book might not capture the exact charm of Rosaline Takes the Cake, the first in the series, but it utilizes the format and world he’s set up to great effect with supporting characters we met in the first go-around being allowed even stronger moments this time. That lack of oxygen is palpable, though, and not just for the mile-per-minute inner monologues Paris goes through. Rather, it captures that energy of a panic attack, suspended in time, as viewers who can relate wait, patiently, tirelessly, for the facade to drop.‘Paris’ refuses to allow the reader to reprieve from the exhaustive imprisonment that is his mind. 

And if any of this is discouraging to readers, a suggestion that maybe the book isn’t the more escapist friendly of Hall’s work, well, then, pity. It may not be his finest (and that’s a prolific bar he’s risen) but, on this side of the aisle, it’s much more damning to see those who won’t engage with the book due to the lack of “likability” of the main character. Anxiety is exhausting, especially to the person living with it.

It’s interesting to see casual and reactionary remarks about how difficult it was to wade through the depths of insecurity that was Paris’s brain. I get his brain and yeah, we’re annoying sometimes, but deserving of the compassion Hall grants us in comparison to others’ dismissal. 

All of that said, regardless of how accurate Hall’s depiction of debilitating mental health hardships was, the relationship between Paris and Tariq never justified its prolonged existence. Rather, I wish we might’ve experienced both points of view in tandem, to better offer us a peek into the interiority of Tariq, the Islamophobia he faced, and how he chose to try to overcome the many hardships he muscled through in trying to become a public figure, especially as he watched Paris seemingly bumble and fumble his way through. 

As is the case with the majority of his work, Paris Daillencourt is About to Crumble is as charming and introspective as any classic romantic comedy. It loses the thread a bit in its attempt to merge Paris’s inner struggle with a more by the book’s romantic agenda. Regardless, it’s endlessly engaging with characters both in the background and forefront who are so texturally enriched that we wish to have another 100 pages dedicated to them and their side plots. There’s a timeless charm to the works of Hall, and while this one isn’t the most heart-clenching, it’s still an enjoyable and fast-paced read. 

Paris Daillencourt is About to Crumble is available for purchase now.

Feature image credit courtesy of Grand Central Publishing.

  • Paris Daillencourt is About to Crumble - 7/10
Allyson Johnson

Based in New England, Allyson is co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of InBetweenDrafts. Former Editor-in-Chief at TheYoungFolks, she is a member of the Boston Society of Film Critics and the Boston Online Film Critics Association. Her writing has also appeared at CambridgeDay, ThePlaylist, Pajiba, VagueVisages, RogerEbert, TheBostonGlobe, Inverse, Bustle, her Substack, and every scrap of paper within her reach.

No Comments

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: