The last few pages of Michelle Gables’ A Paris Apartment have led me, on this particular morning, to find an interesting collection of images on Matthew’s Island of Misfit Toys [https://mattsko.wordpress.com/]… I haven’t looked through “Matthew’s” whole site – that’s gonna take some time – but it is Rated “R” so I’m going to assume the images get a little more risque than the amazing posters for the Paris World’s Fair of 1900 for which I had originally searched and found on his blog.
As for the book… Hmmm.
The genre is important when considering whether or not A Paris Apartment is worth the read, because I want to be clear, we’re not reviewing a classic here – a lot more work would have to be done in order to move it into a genre as… self-sufficient as that. That said if I had to place Gables first novel in a particular genre, I’d have to say it’s chic-lit historical fiction.
A 19th century high-end prostitute with social status locks the door to her Paris apartment 70 years ago and somehow all of her treasures remain in tact until, in the 21st century, her inheritors decide to auction it all off.
I’ll quickly plow through what made me uncomfortable about the book there so I can end with the good stuff.
Introduction is a bit boring as if she didn’t know where to begin so she began in the most boring place. The only reason I read-on is that I had paid full price for the book and I had already been hooked by the plot concept. Dialogue sometimes drags on in a pedantic, repetitive way that doesn’t always propel the plot forward. There’s a huge dump of information in the denouement, as if there was research she really wanted to use but didn’t know where to put it. Sometimes it feels a bit too much like a romance novel (not my favourite genre) where the character’s obsession with the men in her life often overrides her intellectual pursuits.
Ultimately, I would love to read a revised version of this in five to ten years, once Gable has a bit more experience and maturity under her belt. If I could ask Gable one question about the book, I would like her to explain how on earth her main character manages to afford multiple flights between New York and California on top of being a struggling student? How is her education being paid for?
What I loved about A Paris Apartment was enough, though.
Likeable characters with twenty first century problems and relate-able flaws.
The hook: It’s a fictionalized account of something that actually – incredibly, wonderfully – happened!
It’s a light read despite all of the interesting historical tidbits so the reader walks away feeling they know so much more about la belle epoque than they did before without feeling like they sat through a five hour
snore-fest history lesson. That is to say, Gable makes it interesting for a pop culture audience, breathing life into the glamour of the era. She makes you want to learn more.
While I don’t feel like this book was actually finished before it went to the publishers, I still enjoyed it. It’s as though we (the reader) got it on the second draft. Was there a time crunch?
As many of my teachers over the years have insisted: Please, keep writing, Gable! You’ve piqued my interest.
2 1/2 coffee cups out of 5.