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A Paris Apartment: A Novel Hardcover – April 22, 2014

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Shuttered for 70 years, the ninth arrondissement apartment is a treasure trove for furniture appraiser April Vogt. Plus, an extended trip to Paris allows her to avoid her troubled marriage. As April uses the diaries of Marthe de Florian to establish provenance of the pieces, she becomes obsessed with Marthe’s Belle Epoque exploits, her rivalry with Jeanne Hugo (Victor’s granddaughter), and her path from Folies Bergère bartender to renowned (if forgotten) courtesan. All the while, April struggles to forgive her husband’s infidelity, a situation not helped by the presence of Luc Thebault, the estate’s solicitor, who seems determined to make sure April doesn’t work too hard. Gable’s debut is strongest when Paris is the focus, whether it’s suffering a rude waiter at a corner bistro in the present day or dripping in jewels and furs and being bored by Proust in a café at the turn of the century. Some of April’s actions late in the book will render her unforgivable to many readers, so if sick parents and infidelity are red flags, pass on this one. Otherwise, vive la Paris apartment! --Susan Maguire


"...a richly concocted plunge into the worlds of Marthe de Florian and an imaginary Sotheby's auctioneer named April...Gable's Paris of today and yesteryear are worlds that are easy and pleasurable to get lost in."--The San Diego Union-Tribune

“With its well-developed, memorable characters and the author's skillful transitioning between story lines...this stunning and fascinating debut will capture the interest of a wide audience but particularly those interested in stories about women behind famous men like Melanie Benjamin's The Aviator's Wife or Nancy Horan's Under the Wide and Starry Sky. Highly recommended.” ―Library Journal (starred review)

“The women's fiction world is lucky to welcome Michelle Gable to its ranks. In A Paris Apartment, Gable deftly weaves romance, mystery, past and present into a wonderful page-turner that will have readers clamoring for her next book.” ―Allison Winn Scotch, New York Times bestselling author

A Paris Apartment winds between past and present, between two passionate women and their lives, loves and fortunes. Informed and assured, debut author Gable's prose is fresh and emotionally complex. Glimpses into Parisian life, the arts, and the high-end antiquities trade are piquant accents to an exceptional mystery.” ―Sophie Littlefield, national bestselling author

“The past and present intertwine in Michelle Gable's sparkling debut, which sings of the Belle Epoque, French romance, and a few secrets that change everything.” ―Kristin Harmel, internationally bestselling author of The Sweetness of Forgetting

“A charming read about a fascinating history and the woman behind it.” ―Historical Novel Society

“Gable's Paris of today and yesteryear are worlds that are easy and pleasurable to get lost in. April's and Marthe's stories intersect, at times blatantly and at times subtly mirroring or contrasting one another. ...This parallel construction, the sense of place and atmosphere, and Gable's often witty writing are the book's greatest strengths.” ―The San Diego Union-Tribune

“Pick it up as the perfect escape--you'll quickly be whisked away through the vividly described scenery and events of life in Paris.” ―Spa Weekly Daily

“This debut novel is a keeper. It will definitely stay with you long after you finish the last page.” ―Chicklit Club

“The inspiration for A Paris Apartment began in 2010 when Gable's agent sent her an intriguing article with the note: 'I think you can do something with this.' A real-life Parisian flat, abandoned for 70 years, its contents frozen in time? Absolutely, she could.” ―Celeste Williams, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

“Love, art, history, Paris -- what more can you ask for?” ―FineBooks Magazine

“Vive le Paris apartment!” ―Booklist

“You'll be quickly drawn in...there are reasons galore why this story is compelling....A fun and insightful novel.” ―Maine Antique Digest


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; First Edition edition (April 22, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250048737
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250048738
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (303 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #175,611 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michelle Gable is a writer and also a mom, wife, financial executive, sports-obsessed maniac (Go Chargers! Go Aztecs!), Southern California native, barre class fiend, tennis player, and card-carrying member of the Chickasaw Nation.

She grew up in sunny San Diego and attended The College of William & Mary, where she majored in accounting as most aspiring writers do. Throughout a career that started in public accounting and then moved to private equity, then investment banking, and ultimately to the head of FP&A for a publicly-traded software company, Michelle continued to write. And write and write. Her first novel will be released on April 22, 2014 but it is certainly not the first book she's written. It's not even the fifth.

Michelle's debut novel was inspired by the Parisian flat left abandoned for seventy years. Though photographs of the frozen-in-time apartment went viral only recently, her agent read about the discovery back in 2010 and forwarded the article with a note: "I think you can do something with this." The seeds were planted and ultimately grew into the novel A Paris Apartment.

Michelle currently resides in Cardiff by the Sea, California, with her husband, two daughters, and one lazy cat. When she's not speaking with investors or cranking out financial models, she's hard at work on another novel.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By S. Williams on August 13, 2014
Format: Hardcover
If I were giving a review for the portion of the book that took place in 19th century Paris it would be a 5-star review. Unfortunately, that would be reviewing only a portion of the book. The modern-day portion of the story featured a most detestable woman who was whiny, petulant, and ultimately, a hypocrite. Towards the end I found myself skimming her chapters because I hated her so much. But the 19th century chapters were fascinating and I enjoyed them thoroughly.
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52 of 58 people found the following review helpful By labergerebasque on June 7, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really wanted to like this book, so in spite of limited enthusiasm when I read the sample I ordered it. I kept wanting to like it, but the "cinq à six" à repétion (it is "cinq à sept" for the afternoon dalliance), credibility was lacking. Maybe I had hoped too much to read the "real" story about this fabulous find, the forgotten Paris apartment. The story wasn't too bad, but the writing was too much Danielle Steel for me, as though an adolescent had written it for the following masses. I prefer far more "personality" and intelligence in prose. I probably would still be wondering about this book had I not read it...but there is no getting around my disappointment.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By little lady blue on August 20, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Having heard the fascinating story about the Paris apartment found untouched since 1942 I could not have been more eager to read this book.

Told in two parts: (1) the apartment, its contents and its owner and (2) the expert furniture appraiser from New York, April Vogt, sent to see to the cataloguing of the items for auction.

The sections dealing with the apartment and Madame de Florian are for the most part taken from history. Her story unfolds through journals found in the apartment, and are made to be intriguing and entertaining. Even knowing the author was writing fiction, I liked what she did with the facts. Despite some writing gaffes with the use of unfortunate words and phrases here and there, this being a debut novel I can certainly let it pass.

Paris itself is depicted beautifully and for one who has never been I truly enjoyed the descriptions.

The problem arises with April's present-day section of the book. I could not warm to April. In these sections the writing changed to what I would consider silly chick-lit. For a VERY well-educated woman, April Vogt, French and Continental Furniture expert, she simply whines her way through her marriage, family relationships, her job, and a fling that absolutely everyone who got to page 24 would have seen coming.
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36 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Jan Moran, Author on April 22, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
In A Paris Apartment, Michelle Gable deftly weaves two stories, one of a contemporary Sotheby's furniture specialist, and the other of a Belle Epoque beauty and demimondaine. Stylish and sophisticated, it's a story of complex relationships, romance, and history.

When I read this delightful book, I was utterly mesmerized, in part because it is based on a true story that came to light in 2010 about a 9th-arrondissement apartment had been sealed for seven decades.

Abandoned in 1942 on the eve of the Nazi occupation and frozen in time, Marthe de Florian's apartment overflowed with treasures from the Belle Epoque era. The dusty stash included high-end furniture, a classic Mickey Mouse stuffed animal, and a heretofore unknown painting of the mistress painted by the most renowned portraitist of the 19th century -- Giovanni Boldini. The incredible canvas ultimately sold for a record-high for the artist.

The story so captured author Michelle Gable that she spent several years researching and writing a fictionalized account of Marthe de Florian, a demimondaine -- which was a unique class of fashionable woman supported by one or more wealthy male patrons.

Gable is a genius at conveying the different personalities of the two women, and I eagerly followed the contemporary heroine, April Vogt, as she read the remarkable (and juicy!) journal of Marthe de Florian. This story kept me up long past my bedtime, and I look forward to more books from the equally remarkable Michelle Gable. A definite 5-star read!

PS: Check out an interview I did with Michelle Gable on my blog for more of the fascinating the inside story behind the book...
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By C. Karabensh on June 29, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Had such high hopes for this novel, but the writer and editor fell way short. Lots of things in here didn't add to the characterization, atmosphere, storyline, etc. The writer had April move into things that didn't work and/or were out of the character she drawn at the beginning. I just didn't believe her and stopped reading 1/3 of the way through.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Book Barmy on March 31, 2015
Format: Hardcover
I admire any first time author who has the courage and fortitude to keep writing and get a novel (any novel) published, so it is with mixed feelings that I must tell you I tried to look at this debut from several different viewpoints, but there is no getting around my disappointment.

Perhaps I had unrealistically high expectations - what a great story could be told -- the unopened apartment, the story behind the painting, Marthe and the time of the Belle Epoque. Then contrast that with the modern-day story of the antiques experts who must have been agog at the opportunity to research the priceless antiques and delve into Marthe's journals.

The actual Marthe started out as a bartender at the famous Les Folies Bergères, became an elegant courtesan known for having famous lovers, including a few prime ministers, a French president and the artist Boldini. Marthe left the apartment to her granddaughter, Madame de Florian, who shuttered the apartment and fled Paris at the start of WWII.

So, I was seriously excited to open this book and settle in for a good read.

The chapters alternate between Marthe de Florian's story told through fictionalized diary entries and April Vogt, a current-day American furniture expert from Sotheby’s who is called to Paris to help prepare the contents of the apartment for auction.

Marthe's storyline was at times fascinating and the author (thankfully) took much from her actual life -- how she created her name, her elegant persona and how she dug herself out of a brothel into the high class society during the Bell Epoque. In contrast, the modern day story of April Vogt reads like poorly written chic-lit. I found my self slogging through April's chapters and only somewhat enjoying Marthe's.
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