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The Paris Hours

A Novel

by Alex George

The Paris Hours by Alex George X
The Paris Hours by Alex George
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    May 2020, 272 pages
    Paperback:
    May 4, 2021, 272 pages

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Lynne Lambert

Life Can Change in a Day
Alex George spins a fast moving narrative in The Paris Hours as he weaves together the lives of four very different characters. Camille has a secret she is desperate to protect. Souren has escaped the brutal Armenian genocide but not the memories. Guillaume is an artist whose love life and career are aspirational. Jean Paul is a journalist with an aching heart. Each of them has lost someone or something precious, and the novel criss-crosses their lives like the strands of an intricate French braid. A cast of luminaries including Marcel Proust, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Josephine Baker add narrative flavor as the characters live out one meaningful day in 1927 Paris. It is a novel that looks at the power of love, of loss, of hope and of memory. It reminds us that time and timing are powerful forces. Fitting together the disparate pieces of these characters’ lives gives the reader a sense of satisfaction, but up to the very last page there are unexpected surprises.
Ohio Librarian

The Perfect Blend of Historical & Literary Fiction
Experience Paris in 1927, between WWI and WWII), through the lives of four dramatically different characters: an artist, a writer, a maid and a puppeteer. Enter into their hearts and souls as each of their stories unfold and their paths cross with world famous writers, an artist and a singer/dancer. I enjoyed reading every page of this magnificent book by Alex George.
Alyson R. (Spokane, WA)

Vignettes of the human spirit - life, love, and loss
I really enjoyed the Paris Hours. The author did an exquisite job developing the individual narratives of the characters while also interweaving them together. I also liked that the celebrity guest spots of famous Parisians or wanna-be Parisians of the likes of Maurice Ravel, Josephine Baker, Ernest Hemingway, and Gertrude Stein, which set the atmosphere of the teens and twenties in Paris. The film "Midnight in Paris" paints an almost too rosy picture of life at this time (while acknowledging the protagonist's guilding of it), but Alex George emphasizes its stark realities. He captures the horrors of World War I, Jim Crow laws in the US, the Armenian genocide, gender inequality, etc. I would recommend the book to anyone who likes historic fiction but is also willing to challenge themselves to feel uncomfortable with the past and reflect on what has or hasn't changed in the present.
Marcia C. (Jeffersonville, PA)

Remembrance of Things Past--Part II
The Paris Hours is a beautifully written, soulful account of four Parisians, each coping with a very personal loss. The year is 1927. The entire book takes place over the span of a single day. As the stories unfold it becomes evident that even after many years, each of these Parisians—Jean Paul, a journalist; Souren, a puppeteer; Camille, a maid to Marcel Proust; and Guillaume, an artist—is still grappling with the changes in their lives. They struggle in their attempt to experience a sense of belonging in the Paris that they love.
At the center of this novel lies the story of Camille and Marcel Proust. Proust is in the throes of writing his epic novel, "In Search of Lost Time". Camille agrees to be his assistant in this monumental endeavor and she sacrifices her time with her husband and young daughter to do all that she can for Proust. After he finishes his first draft, he asks Camille to burn all of his notebooks. Camille, however cannot bring herself to destroy the book in its entirety. She keeps one volume. After Proust dies, that notebook goes missing and Camille does everything in her power to recover it.
Camille is not the only character on a search. Souren is searching for his younger brother, Guillaume for his baby daughter whose name he doesn't even know, and Jean Paul for his daughter he hasn't seen for 7 years.
I so love Alex George's writing. He presents his characters with great empathy and compassion. Each of them walks a solitary path. Yet, he has a wonderful way of bringing these characters into each other's lives in totally unexpected ways that leave us with a sense of their common humanity. These coincidental meetings continue until the last scene where the characters are finally allowed the resolution of their heart's quest.
If you enjoyed the Little Paris Bookshop, you may want to give this book a try!
In the past few months I've read several books that were set in Paris. This one has stolen my heart.
Lynne Z. (San Francisco, CA)

Life is full of surprises
Alex George has written a beautiful book that had me mesmerized from beginning to end. He masterfully wove the stories of his four main characters by slowly unfolding their memories and secrets with rotating chapters. The various connections between the characters did not feel contrived. I was continually surprised by the twists and turns throughout the novel and found the ending extremely satisfying. In general, I am not fond of real-life characters appearing in fiction, but with this book Marcel Proust, Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, and Josephine Baker were not only important to the plot, but helped to make Paris a character in itself. I really loved this book.
Connie L. (Bartlesville, OK)

Sorrows and Joys of Paris
The Paris Hours transports you to the City of Light, 1927, and the sad and beautiful lives of four protagonists, whose stories are conveyed flawlessly. Their lives intertwine - the starving artist, the wounded refugee, the struggling writer, and the maid. All with secrets and sorrows, and all fascinating. You become immersed in their stories, and find yourself in places you have dreamed of - the Luxembourg Gardens, Boulevard Saint-Germain, the Marais, Shakespeare and Company.

Famous inhabitants of Paris make brief, casual appearances - Ernest Hemingway, Josephine Baker, Marcel Proust, Gertrude Stein.

The writing is consistently lovely and lyrical. Reading this book is like floating through a beautiful and deep dream.

"The Paris Hours" will resonate with readers of "All the Light We Cannot See," and will be an enjoyable reading experience for book club readers.
Elyse G. (Creswell, OR)

Highly Recommend
I really enjoyed this book. It drew me in right from the start, with it's mysterious, moody first pages. I liked how the author used the time of day to echo the moods of the first few chapters (or maybe it was the other way around) - from somber to joyous as night fell and then moved to dawn.

Each character's story was told between present and past views, giving us a glimpse more into their lives with every chapter.

There were some parts that were hard to read, as the author did not shy away from harsh realities. I look forward to reading more from Alex George.
Susan M. (Ellicott City, MD)

In One Day
"A maid, a journalist, an artist, and a puppeteer" sounds like the beginning of a joke, but they actually describe the four main characters in Alex George's new novel A Paris Hour. Four fictional characters living in the glittery, avant garde Paris surrounded by actual socialites and artists: Josephine Baker, Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, and Marcel Proust. Taking place in one day, George weaves the lives of the ordinary people to an exciting and breathtaking ending. Is a secret revealed? Is a debt paid? Read, A Paris Hour. NOTE: Short chapters help the reader remember who is who.

Beyond the Book:
  Gertrude Stein (1874-1946)

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