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The Paris Hours

Review

The Paris Hours

THE PARIS HOURS takes place over the course of a single summer day in 1927 Paris. Alex George’s new novel highlights the lingering effects of World War I on both the city and its inhabitants, centering on four seemingly unrelated individuals whose lives intersect in a stunning and unforgettable way.

Armenian refugee Souren Balakian is a puppeteer who performs his shows to exorcise his demons and guilt over a brutal family event that occurred before he fled Armenia. Camille Clermont was the maid/assistant of Marcel Proust for the later years of his life and is struggling with the consequences of their respective betrayals. Guillaume Blanc is a painter who borrowed money from the wrong people and must repay his debt. Gertrude Stein visits his apartment to view his paintings, and their interaction forces him to deal with his past. Veteran and journalist Jean-Paul Maillard interviews others and tells their stories to avoid dwelling on his own heartrending past.

"THE PARIS HOURS draws readers in and won’t let go until the very end. It is a one-sit read with memorable characters and a glittering setting that will remain with everyone who experiences it for a long time to come."

George flashes back on each of their lives, filling in their histories, revealing their secrets and traumas, and developing sympathetic characters who will remain with readers long after they have turned the final page of this literary gem. The book beautifully demonstrates the importance of human connection, the lasting and traumatic ramifications of war, and the haunting effects of guilt as these people struggle to endure their daily lives.

1927 Paris was a magical time with authors, artists, musicians and singers gathering regularly at various cafes and other hotspots. Ernest Hemingway, Josephine Baker, and the aforementioned Marcel Proust and Gertrude Stein all make appearances here, as does Sylvia Beach, the renowned owner of the original Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris. This iconic and fabled institution plays a role in the tale, which lovers of literary history and bookstores will appreciate. The other famous characters mentioned above play minor roles, but George includes all manner of quirky and fascinating details about them, adding a delightful element to this lovely and affecting book.

THE PARIS HOURS draws readers in and won’t let go until the very end. It is a one-sit read with memorable characters and a glittering setting that will remain with everyone who experiences it for a long time to come.

Reviewed by Cindy Burnett on May 8, 2020

The Paris Hours
by Alex George

  • Publication Date: May 5, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Flatiron Books
  • ISBN-10: 125030718X
  • ISBN-13: 9781250307187