May 31, 2022
by Leesa Cross-Smith
Grand Central Publishing
Hardcover, 385 pages
"Cross-Smith’s richly vivid prose pulls you in and transports you to Paris. Sharp-edged and utterly intoxicating story of love, betrayal, and loyalty.”
 -Taylor Jenkins Reid

"A refreshing take on a woman’s story of midlife upheaval."
-Publishers Weekly
The story of a woman remaking her life after her husband’s betrayal leads to a year of travel, art, and passion in Paris.

Vincent, the privileged daughter of artists, has a lovely life. At forty-four, she enjoys strolling the streets of Paris and teaching at the modern art museum; she has a vibrant group of friends; and she’s caught the eye of a young, charismatic man named Loup. But Vincent is in Paris to escape a painful betrayal: her husband, Cillian, has published a bestselling book divulging secrets about their marriage and his past, hinting that when he was a teenager, he may have had a child with a young woman back in Dublin—before he moved to California and never returned.
Estranged from Cillian, Vincent has agreed to see him at their son’s upcoming wedding, but Loup introduces new complications. Loup and Vincent begin an intense affair, and between dinners made together, cigarettes smoked in the moonlight, hazy evenings in nightclubs, and long, starry walks along the Seine, Vincent feels herself loosening and blossoming.
In a transportive and intimate story, Half-Blown Rose traverses Paris, art, travel, liminal spaces, and the messy complexities of relationships and romance, with excerpts from Cillian’s novel, playlists, and journal entries woven. As Cillian Attempts to Vincent back, she must decide what she wants—and who she will be.
Dear Reader,

Half-Blown Rose was written in lockdown during the pandemic while I dreamt of returning to Paris. Since I couldn’t travel there, I wanted to write a book that matched my own wanderlust and desire to escape. My character Vincent is a woman of leisure. She has jobs, but she also has the privilege of being able to wander the streets of Paris whenever she wants and return to her parents' fancy, spacious apartment. Vincent meets a delightful group of friends and takes a young, handsome lover named Loup who joins her on her walks and travels.

Paris is a city full of beauty, food, and indulgence! I hope that Half-Blown Rose makes you want to visit Paris if you’ve never been— or to return if you have! I also hope it makes you hungry—for food and love and romance and adventure and friendships and starry walks along the Seine! Paris, mon amour.

Leesa Cross-Smith
Book Club Menu and Recipe
“On the flight to Paris she promised herself she’d try her best to keep it loose and let her emotions stretch out, go wherever they wanted. Not fight against them so much. When she wants a croissant or pain au chocolat, that’s what she eats.” 
- Half-Blown Rose

Half-Blown Rose is filled with desire and hunger of all sorts. Vincent, naturally, has some apprehension and guilt when it comes to taking a lover in Paris. Her lover, Loup, is twenty years younger than she is— the same age as her son— and she and Cillian haven’t officially called off their relationship. But the word guilt is not in Vincent’s vocabulary when it comes to food. She takes great pleasure in eating. Her close friend, Agathe, loves to bake treats and stop at boulangeries for croissants, millefeuilles, chouquettes, before making her way over to Vincent’s apartment for wine and chats.

A pain au chocolate recipe is an easy choice to spotlight: one of my favorite things to do, while I was in Paris, was to get a bag of pain au chocolat and wander. I gave Vincent those same feelings and let her dig in. Vincent enjoys grabbing a bag of pain au chocolat and noshing on it while she saunters. Much like a long bubble bath or ignoring “responsibilities” to finish a good book, making and eating pain au chocolat (just because!) feels so decadent. A true pleasure!
Vincent enjoys cooking, and she and her friends have scheduled rotating dinner parties. The first time Loup visits Vincent’s apartment, he’s invited himself to one of her dinner parties with a cry of "J’ai faim!"— the French for "I’m hungry!"—and she puts him to work helping her cook.

Enjoy your book club gathering with The "Half-Blown Rosé 75" cocktail, a pink version of the classic French 75, along with Caprese salad and pasta dishes Vincent makes for Loup and her friends.
-Leesa Cross-Smith
Dinner Menu
*Half-Blown Rosé 75
*Caprese salad
*Farfalle with carbonara and spring peas
*Spaghetti Puttanesca or Bolognese
©Copyright 2022 The Book Club Cookbook