Not Logged in.
Book Jacket

The Paris Hours


One day in the City of Light. One night in search of lost time.
Summary and Reviews
Excerpt
Reading Guide
Author Biography

Discuss The Paris Hours by Alex George:
This novel is peppered with famous historical figures--yet they remain on the periphery of the novel, not at its heart. What do you make of that narrative decision? What does the novel seem to be saying about celebrity?

Created: 05/19/20

Replies: 19

Posted May. 19, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 2245

This novel is peppered with famous historical figures--yet they remain on the periphery of the novel, not at its heart. What do you make of that narrative decision? What does the novel seem to be saying about celebrity?

Jean-Paul reflects on Josephine Baker: "All he knows about her is exactly what she wanted him to know. She is the most famous person in Paris, but her celebrity is a mask. That dazzling smile was a suit of armor, hiding her from view." This novel is peppered with famous historical figures--Baker, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Marcel Proust--yet they remain on the periphery of the novel, not at its heart. What do you make of that narrative decision? What does the novel seem to be saying about celebrity?


Posted May. 22, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
terriej

Join Date: 07/28/11

Posts: 262

RE: This novel is peppered with famous historical figures--yet they remain on the periphery of the novel, not at its heart. What do you make of that narrative decision?

I was glad that the famous people were not focused in the book. It allowed you to focus on the 4 main characters and the famous people were just peripheral additions to the stories.


Posted May. 23, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
momo

Join Date: 04/03/19

Posts: 17

RE: This novel is peppered with famous historical figures--yet they remain on the periphery of the novel, not at its heart. What do you make of that narrative decision? What does the novel seem to be saying about celebrity?

I like that the celebrities were not the main focus. I think it made the main characters more relatable.


Posted May. 23, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Jessica F

Join Date: 05/23/20

Posts: 25

RE: This novel is peppered with famous historical figures--yet they remain on the periphery of the novel, not at its heart. What do you make of that narrative decision? What does the novel seem to be saying about celebrity?

It was a perfect balance! And I enjoyed doing a little research on those famous folks.


Posted May. 23, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
katherinep

Join Date: 07/16/14

Posts: 235

RE: This novel is peppered with famous historical figures--yet they remain on the periphery of the novel, not at its heart. What do you make of that narrative decision? What does the novel seem to be saying about celebrity?

I think the novel shows that celebrities are in a world apart--some show disdain for others not as famous, while some are happy to mix to an extent with less notable people. For the most part, however, they are human and some handle the limelight well and know it isn't real life and others are happy to be unhappy and live in a make-believe world.


Posted May. 24, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Peggy H

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 267

RE: This novel is peppered with famous historical figures--yet they remain on the periphery of the novel, not at its heart. What do you make of that narrative decision? What does the novel seem to be saying about celebrity?

The famous characters to me were included to help the setting. I liked that the author included them to form authenticity


Posted May. 26, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
TBM

Join Date: 04/04/20

Posts: 11

RE: This novel is peppered with famous historical figures--yet they remain on the periphery of the novel, not at its heart. What do you make of that narrative decision? What does the novel seem to be saying about celebrity?

I didn't like it! I found it distracting as I tried to line up how they were portrayed in the book with what I knew about them in real life and/or researched them to know more. I'm also not sure how realistic it was--did everyone just run into/meet celebrities that way in 1927 Paris?

I did find it interesting how integral they were with pushing the story forward and I hadn't realized how many Americans were in Paris in the 1920s, especially the African Americans and how much better they were treated.


Posted May. 26, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
gerrieb

Join Date: 09/03/19

Posts: 46

This novel is peppered with famous historical figures--yet they remain on the periphery of the novel, not at its heart. What do you make of that narrative decision? ...

I applaud that decision. This was a novel about the "regular" people of Paris. Those who you pass on the street every day without notoriety. You never notice what is going on with people, those "average", every day people right in front of you. The placement of the celebrities - almost in a name dropping way, was a plot device used to good end. It gave you a very good sense of what Paris was like in the twenties and the variety of people who crossed paths and never really knew it. It also provided a stark contrast to the central characters and an interesting juxtaposition. Camille has issues with her husband, Pauline has issues with her famous husband leaving her to party with others. Camille appears horrified when Pauline tells her Ernest will come home "roaring drunk". The appearance of Josephine Baker provided the opportunity for a window into Jean-Paul's life, and their "bonding" struck a chord in me. It also provided another view of Paris in the twenties. I really enjoyed how celebrities and the main characters had intersections in common places.

Exactly what Alex George is trying to convey about celebrity I don't know. I can say that for me the depictions showed them as human as everyone else, their failings, odd and difficult relationships, rude behavior, in fact they are relatable and in no way "special" or above the human condition. Jean-Paul says of Josephine " she knew the fragility of happiness , and for this reason, he trusted her." Hemingway also well knew the fragility of happiness - he battled depression for most of his life and eventually committed suicide. Jean-Paul describes Josephine Baker and her celebrity mask and yet... as he says her story has everything.. what more is he looking for ? What more does he want from her? What is it he is expecting? Later he muses that he understands Josephine Baker - France liberated her from the color of her skin.

I think the main point here is that celebrities are just like the rest of us - more recognized of course, but no better, no worse, although certainly while more recognizable not necessarily better known. They possess no greater depth, no greater secrets or stories than the regular person on the street. Some are more complex than others but they are just like the rest of us. Some of us have more secrets, more tragic stories, more successes than others.


Posted May. 27, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
kate

Join Date: 01/22/11

Posts: 66

RE: This novel is peppered with famous historical figures--yet they remain on the periphery of the novel, not at its heart. What do you make of that narrative decision? What does the novel seem to be saying about celebrity?

I thought it was a brilliant way to set the stage of what was going on in Paris at the time. Everybody has images of Hemingway and Gertrude Stein living in Paris and living the life of artists; it made it more visual for me. Alex George did a wonderful job of having them as part of the story but not being main components of the book. Perfect balance in my opinion.


Posted May. 28, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
laurap

Join Date: 06/19/12

Posts: 291

RE: This novel is peppered with famous historical figures--yet they remain on the periphery of the novel, not at its heart. What do you make of that narrative decision?

I felt that the celebrities helped set the stage, providing context for the rest of the stories. But I really enjoyed the fact that the focus was on the ordinary folk and the complexities of their lives. I agree with the previous comments regarding balance. I thought George did an excellent job of inserting the celebrities into the story for context without allowing them to take the spotlight.


Posted May. 28, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
lynnel

Join Date: 10/25/17

Posts: 11

RE: This novel is peppered with famous historical figures--yet they remain on the periphery of the novel, not at its heart. What do you make of that narrative decision? What does the novel seem to be saying about celebrity?

The celebrities sprinkled through the novel, with the exception of Proust who is more of a major character and integral to the plot, made the novel like a mysterious treasure hunt. When they act like “regular”people they remind the reader that celebrities are really just people. When they act out as Hemingway does, the reader gets a picture of the price one pays for fame. In either case, the famous characters enrich the narrative rather than detracting from them.


Posted Jun. 02, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Kathleen V

Join Date: 06/02/20

Posts: 14

RE: This novel is peppered with famous historical figures--yet they remain on the periphery of the novel, not at its heart. What do you make of that narrative decision? What does the novel seem to be saying about celebrity?

I thought that was such a creative decision, and I really loved it. I thought Josephine Baker's character served a tremendously important purpose--to address issues of racism that continue to plague America today--and she also added an air of glamour to the plot. I also felt that the celebrities--Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, and Baker--brought a bit of levity to the narrative. I loved that they weren't center stage, but rather supporting actors.


Posted Jun. 03, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
louisee

Join Date: 06/29/15

Posts: 118

RE: This novel is peppered with famous historical figures--yet they remain on the periphery of the novel, not at its heart. What do you make of that narrative decision?

I agree with many of you that the famous people weren't center stage but helped move the story along. Having them in the story made it more enjoyable to me. I also looked up some of the famous names to find out they were really in Paris at that time, making the historical part of the novel more realistic. It didn't surprise me that the average person would run into him and the others as they liked to hang out in public places.


Posted Jun. 03, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Muse48

Join Date: 12/27/18

Posts: 20

Celebrity

It seems that celebrity types are oblivious to what is going on in the world right outside their windows. It reminds me of a quote by Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle) "The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes."


Posted Jun. 06, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Graham

Join Date: 04/21/20

Posts: 3

RE: This novel is peppered with famous historical figures--yet they remain on the periphery of the novel, not at its heart. What do you make of that narrative decision?

I agree with Jessica F., After reading about people who were merely names to me I had to do some research. I had a totally different picture of Gertrude Stein in my mind before I read about her appearance in Guillaume's bedroom. I have to admit that my idea of her was formed by my high school education and a teacher who saw her as far more cultured and introspective than Alex George.


Posted Jun. 07, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
patriciag's Gravatar
patriciag

Join Date: 07/11/14

Posts: 32

RE: This novel is peppered with famous historical figures--yet they remain on the periphery of the novel, not at its heart. What do you make of that narrative decision? What does the novel seem to be saying about celebrity?

I have always thought it remarkable that so many now famous artists and writers all lived in 1920's Paris. From what I know, their paths did cross; they naturally sought each other out as expatriates. Although they are now celebrities to us, I think then they were just starting out or struggling to make themselves known. I think by keeping them on the periphery, George lends some reality to the lives of the four main characters; living in that time and place, one might have run across these fascinating people before they were so well-known.


Posted Jun. 09, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
swchis39

Join Date: 09/26/12

Posts: 95

RE: This novel is peppered with famous historical figures--yet they remain on the periphery of the novel, not at its heart. What do you make of that narrative decision? What does the novel seem to be saying about celebrity?

Garrieb captured my thought entirely. Well done


Posted Jun. 09, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Sooz

Join Date: 07/29/14

Posts: 51

RE: This novel is peppered with famous historical figures--yet they remain on the periphery of the novel, not at its heart. What do you make of that narrative decision? What does the novel seem to be saying about celebrity?

I too was glad that the celebrities were included as I was later able to look up more about them. I agree with those who were glad that they remained on the periphery as I'm sure the author wanted his readers to be much more interested in following the lives of the four protagonists. I guess the author wished to emphasize that the lives of ordinary citizens should be more important to us than celebrities.


Posted Jun. 11, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Lois Irene

Join Date: 01/20/16

Posts: 76

RE: This novel is peppered with famous historical figures--yet they remain on the periphery of the novel, not at its heart. What do you make of that narrative decision? What does the novel seem to be saying about celebrity?

Early in the novel, I got excited to think that I would get to know Ravel, for instance. When I realized that many famous characters were around and about in Paris I was excited to think of the richness of the city at this time in history. I have been to Paris and it is easy to imagine someone famous walking around the corner.


Posted Jun. 11, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
paulagb

Join Date: 08/16/17

Posts: 105

RE: This novel is peppered with famous historical figures--yet they remain on the periphery of the novel, not at its heart. What do you make of that narrative decision? What does the novel seem to be saying about celebrity?

I enjoyed the inclusion of several famous figures. My knowledge about them from earlier reading experiences helped me evaluate the surroundings and the nature of society existing in Paris at the time. If any of the celebrities had been more central to the story it would have been a story about them.


Reply

Please login to post a response.