Aren & Élise

Fiction - Inspirational
308 Pages
Reviewed on 10/24/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Alex Ndirangu for Readers' Favorite

Élise is born into a world ravaged by political violence. She watches as the authorities brutalize her parents and all she can do as a baby is wail and run. Her guardian angel scoops her up and takes her to safety. By age forty, Élise is the picture of robust health on the surface, but deep inside she suffers from anxiety and stress. She has had fibroids and endometriosis and is childless after four miscarriages. Élise is still single and haunted by the tragedies of her childhood. But her life is about to start a completely new chapter. It all begins when she meets a charismatic solar technology entrepreneur called Aren during a hike. Aren asks her out on a date, and this is the beginning of a beautiful love story that we can only wish goes on forever. Their lives will take a new twist when Élise unexpectedly falls pregnant. How will Aren react when he finds out his girlfriend conceived at age fifty? Will he prove himself as a man and take full responsibility as a husband and father to their daughter even at 63? Find out in Aren and Élise by Ettenig Sayam.

What I liked most about Aren and Élise was the author's originality in her writing. The inclusion of a foreign language was educational for me, and it supplemented the writing style with unusual artistic beauty. I also liked how Ettenig Sayam injected subtle humor into the storyline, which left me with a smile. One instance that made me laugh was when Élise said that she thought it was strange how her body decided that "it was time to close shop and not conceive" despite all of the fertility treatments she had undergone. Élise's ability to find and express humor in even the most difficult situations made her my favorite character in the book. I liked how the author used captivating suspense to guide the reader through the storyline and connect all the dots without deviating from the plot. This book depicts a classic case of making lemonade out of life's lemons.

Vincent Dublado

Aren and Élise by Ettenig Sayam is a touching romantic drama that retells the biblical love story between Abraham and Sara. The story introduces you to Aren Karajian, a widower with a thirty-four-year-old daughter. He has an engineering degree from MIT and once had a solar energy business that he sold not too long after his wife died from cancer. Élise Douchet isn’t looking for anyone. She is fine being on her own as a French and Spanish teacher. But lately, she finds herself crying for no reason at all, and the memories of her childhood in Haiti resurface. She celebrates her fiftieth birthday by going on a hiking spa trip. This trip leads her to meet Aren, who becomes her knight in shining armor. An unlikely romance brews and, despite her age, a miracle takes place when Élise becomes pregnant.

It is always a delight to read retellings of classical tales and find how contemporary authors use their creative skills by putting new twists into old stories. Ettenig Sayam may be carving a sub-genre in the romance niche by appealing to an older set, and he brings originality to it, even if it is a retelling. This author understands the level of maturity in the romantic relationship between the two protagonists perfectly. You will find Aren and Élise’s interactions intelligent as they are preoccupied with deeper concerns about existence. The novel presents the idea that advancing age is no excuse for not reaching for your goal because it is only in our minds that we are truly old. Aren and Élise is a pleasure to read as it explores the joys of finding true love when you least expect it. The best part is that it includes the mandatory obstacles one must face to truly affirm that love conquers all. It’s simply a must-read.

Grace Ruhara

Aren and Élise by Ettenig Sayam is a romantic novel that introduces an older couple, Élise and Aren, who dare to love once more despite the uncertainties in their love lives. Aren's wife dies of cancer, leaving him devastated, and he ends up dating many women, searching for love. On the other hand, Élise's husband marries another woman because she cannot give birth. The two meet while hiking. Élise falls into a ditch while hiking and is rescued by Aren. This strikes up a conversation, and Aren invites Élise for a tea and chat date. She shows up and both have a great time as they end up sharing many stories. This conversation leads to an excellent stargazing session, and after that, Élise spends the night at Aren's place. This must be love. Right? More such interludes follow, full of adventure and intense romantic scenes that will leave you wanting more. Their passion grows until Élise falls sick. She is often moody and gloomy and complains of body aches. Would she also die of cancer?

What I loved about Aren and Élise by Ettenig Sayam is that it changes one's perspective on love. It reminded me that there is no specific time to fall in love and open up to feeling loved. This gives one hope and urges one not to give up on it. I also loved that both Élise and Aron narrated the story. This gave me a first-hand perspective of what was happening. I could resonate with their feelings, emotions, and decisions. For these reasons, I recommend this novel to readers struggling to find love. This novel will give them hope that love exists and happens at any age. I also recommend it to those in love since it will strengthen their love and appreciation of each other.