TITLE: A Paris Apartment
AUTHOR: Michelle Gable
PUBLISHER: Thomas Dunne Books
RELEASE DATE: April 22, 2014
When April Vogt’s boss tells her about the discoveries in a cramped, decrepit ninth arrondissement apartment, the Sotheby’s continental furniture specialist does not hear the words “dust” or “rats” or “shuttered for seventy years.” She hears Paris. She hears escape.
Once in France, April quickly learns the apartment is not merely some rich hoarder’s repository. Beneath the dust and cobwebs and stale perfumed air is a goldmine and not because of the actual gold (or painted ostrich eggs or mounted rhinoceros horns or bronze bathtub). First, there’s a portrait by one of the masters of the Belle Epoque. And then there are letters and journals written by the woman in the painting, documents showing she was more than a renowned courtesan with enviable décolletage. Suddenly it’s no longer about the bureau plats and Louis-style armchairs that will fetch millions at auction.
It’s about a life. Two lives, actually.
With the help of a salty (and annoyingly sexy) Parisian solicitor and the courtesan’s private documents, April tries to uncover the secrets buried in the apartment. As she digs into one woman’s life, April can’t help but take a deeper look into her own. When the two things she left bubbling back in the States begin to boil over, April starts to wonder whether she’ll ever find—in the apartment, or in her life—just what she’s looking for.
Throughout the pages of A Paris Apartment we meet quite the collection of intriguing characters with a certain je ne sais quoi. April Voygt, while sharing my first name, also shares my love for good coffee and ability to run from stressful situations. Needless to say, I related to her quite a bit. I even have a salty (and annoyingly sexy) Parisian friend (he is, however, not a lawyer/”solicitor” but a neuroscientist). Ha!
If you were in Paris your food might as well glitter.
What can I say? I fell in love with this book a little bit and though, sadly, it did not end precisely how I wanted it to, it was still a wonderfully written, intriguing story full of amazing pieces of art, quaint Parisian cafes, a whiff of French romance and some history to boot. I found myself thinking about this book when I wasn’t reading it. As soon as I had to put it down to tend to ‘real life’ things I wanted to get back to it immediately. I read on my breaks at work (including skipping the actual eating part), and even in the car on my way to dinner with my family. In other words, it was difficult to put down.
I particularly love the history and the way the two stories are woven together one past and one present until they meet somewhere in the middle and reveal everything to the reader. We meet April in the present and Marthe in the past via her journal entries. The characters were wholly believable and I was concerned for them, all of them. There were even parts where I gasped out loud–twice! And whispered, “No!” Other parts made me giggle out loud (see quote below).
Dead bodies plus a hit of absinthe are really the best cure for that insane little man.
Overall, I think this was a fantastic debut novel and I can’t wait to see what else Michelle Gable comes out with in the future. Fantastic. A+! Tres magnifique! I would suggest this for lovers of period fiction, literary fiction, and especially, lovers of Paris!