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Paris Was the Place Paperback – May 6, 2014
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“Exquisite. . . . A story about hope, love, family, forgiveness, expectation, risk, loss, and letting go.”
—The Boston Globe, “Pick of the Week”
“Susan Conley’s Paris Was the Place has the kind of emotional weight you hope for in a novel. . . . Achingly beautiful.”
“What’s a more seductive place to set a novel than in Paris? This story of a young American woman working abroad is both delicious and poignant, a tale of love and loss and, ultimately, hope. When Willie Pears helps a desperate girl escape immigration detention, she endangers her career and her budding romance with a French lawyer. The love of friends and family help her through this crisis, and the tragedy to come. Gorgeously written, this book had me in tears by the end.”—Tess Gerritsen, Judge for the 2019 Maine Humanities Council Summer Read ME Statewide Community Read Selection
“Sensual and seductive, Paris Was the Place pulls you in and doesn’t let you go. Find your nearest chair and start reading.”
“Susan Conley's deft, moving novel is a beautiful love song, as much to Paris as to that tipping point in life when love and loss combine and perhaps, for the first time, both heartbroken and thrilled, you feel acutely what it means to be fully human and alive.”
—Sarah Blake, author of The Postmistress
“Reminds us that it is impossible to separate what is hideous from what is lovely in our everyday lives.”
—The Portland Phoenix
“Conley’s debut novel zips its readers to the Paris of the 1980s. . . . At its heart the story explores the ties between family and friends, but also delights around the edges with descriptions of a sky ‘flanged lilac,’ dove gray apartments buildings, cafes with awnings, and crepes with lemon and butter and sugar.”
“Paris Was the Place is a gorgeous love story and a wise, intimate journal of dislocation that examines how far we'll go for the people we love most. I couldn’t put it down.”
—Ayelet Waldman, author of Red Hook Road
“Much more than a love story. . . . The brief flashbacks are so vivid you would swear the author went through that primal experience.”
—The Stamford Advocate
“Deftly exploring the complexities of friendship, family, and commitment, Conley adroitly demonstrates her infectious passion for Paris through an extensive and intimate portrait of the inner workings concealed behind its seductive façade.”
“A suspenseful story, full of moral choices and deep feeling. Willow is an irresistible heroine.”
—Margot Livesey, author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy
“[Paris Was the Place] reminds us through the openheartedness of its compassion of the infinity of ways in which doing what we can for others might represent the best we can do in terms of saving ourselves.”
—Jim Shepard, author of You Think That’s Bad
“An affecting debut.”
“Smart and compulsively readable, Paris Was the Place is a bittersweet meditation on responsibility and family, and on the power of words to save us.”
—Maryanne O’Hara, author of Cascade
“Tenderhearted, earnest, and sincere.”
“A heartrending and deeply hopeful novel. . . . [Conley’s] immigrant girls are tenderly drawn, full of pathos. One feels a need get to close to them, to provide some comfort, to find some way to fix this broken system and this brutal world. Thankfully, Willie Pears—Conley’s big-hearted, clear-eyed narrator—is there.”
—Sarah Braunstein, author of The Sweet Relief of Missing Children
About the Author
- ASIN : 0307739872
- Publisher : Vintage; Reprint edition (May 6, 2014)
- Language: : English
- Paperback : 368 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780307739872
- ISBN-13 : 978-0307739872
- Item Weight : 8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,109,733 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
"A timely novel highlighting the worth and delicate nature of Nature itself." -Delia Owens Learn more
Top reviews from the United States
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At the beginning, I was sucked into the section about the main character's work with the immigrants at the detention centre. It was so promising!! I expected so much more with regards to the girls seeking asylum in France and the main character's relationship with these girls. That’s what I was really looking forward to.
Then the story line about the main character's brother takes over.
You get the impression that this is a case of two short stories that have been linked and that the author intended the immigrant story to be the main one but maybe changed her mind along the way, so that the story about her brother takes precedence. I was disappointed.
But it's not a bad story.
3.5 stars for this one.
It felt like a young adult book to me. I can't believe I'm saying this, but all of it was tedious to me.
I work with young, disadvantaged teenage girls so I was very sympathetic to the stories of the young women in the book - the abuse, the fear, the helplessness of being the victim of a system.
HIV and AIDS have played a major role in my life for the past thirty years, and even that felt hollow to me.
And Paris - well, I can't get enough of it. But I did. I didn't finish the book.
Actually, probably great for a younger audience. I would recommend it to my 18 year-old granddaughter.
The characters are well developed and we are drawn into their circle throughout the journey of reading this fine novel.
This is my best attempt at a rave review. Whats next Susan?. I can't wait. Anne
Top reviews from other countries
I enjoyed this novel hugely. The material about asylum seekers was moving and successfully avoided sentimentality, and Ghita and her friends were very appealing. Macon was a very interesting character, and the material on his failed marriage and his relationship with his son was very engrossing. There was some lovely writing about poetry - which had me wanting to re-visit some favourite authors and explore some new ones. The material on Luke's terminal illness and on Willow and his childhood, and their parents' troubled relationship, was very moving, and there were some interesting scenes in India where Willow and Macon go to meet her Indian poet's daughter. And the novel asked some thoughtful questions about law, justice and the boundaries of friendship. Conley also very vividly evoked her setting and the glories of French food!
If I stop short at four stars, it's because I wasn't sure all the novel's different strands ever quite came together to form a complete structure. The novel tended to 'jump' topic a bit disarmingly - at one moment it was focussed on Willow and Ghita, what Willow does and how it affects her relationship with Macon, then we suddenly moved on to Willow and Luke and their childhood, and then made another jump to a section on Willow's travels in India with Macon (who manages to get a lot of leave at the last moment, perhaps not wholly convincingly). I suppose this might reflect how life feels sometimes - that we're very vividly in one situation, then in another - but it sometimes felt a little disjointed.
But on the whole a lovely, engrossing and beautifully written book, with very likeable characters and a lyrical writing style. I gather that Conley has another novel coming out this year - I can't wait.