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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
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  • Published:
    May 2020, 272 pages

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Linda S. (Milford, CT)

The Paris Hours
Come with me on a journey back in time to a day in 1927 Paris. This historical fiction is unique in that The Paris Hours by Alex George, takes place over 24 hours. Four somewhat ordinary people are all looking for something.

Souren Balakian, a tailor and puppeteer, is a transplant from Armenia. His younger brother was killed during the war there and Souren cannot get him out of his thoughts. Guillaume Blanc, a penniless and somewhat talented painter, is looking to escape ruthless moneylenders. He cannot repay them as he hasn't sold any paintings. Jean-Paul Maillard is a journalist, obsessed with the U.S. as were many people of the time. He was haunted by the same soulful music that his neighbor downstairs, Maurice Ravel, played every day on his piano. Camille Clermont is a married woman with a daughter, Marie. She becomes the housekeeper for Marcel Proust and grows very fond of him over the years.

Several other famous people make appearances throughout the story. Josephine Baker, Sidney Bechet, Sylvia Beach, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas.

I liked the author's style of writing. Each chapter is about one of the characters. He does give you a good history of who the character is and how they arrived at their particular situations. The end ties it up quite nicely. This was a very enjoyable book and I would recommend it for book groups.
Laura C. (Woodworth, LA)

An exceptional read
Unfathomable loss, regret, remorse and longing have left indelible marks on Camille, Jean-Paul, Guillaume and Souren but in 1927 Paris, they strive ceaselessly to find what eludes them and will seemingly make them whole. Cameos by Ernest Hemingway, Marcel Proust, Gertrude Stein and other luminaries of postwar Paris add authenticity to the story and time. In the masterfully conceived penultimate and longest chapter, the paths of the four main characters come crashing together in shocking fashion, so shocking and unexpected that I reread the chapter. The Paris Hours is a gripping tale of four immensely sympathetic characters and their harrowing stories that I won't soon forget. I don't reread fiction but I may well reread this. I highly recommend this book and I also think it would make an excellent book club selection.
Barbara H. (Thomasville, GA)

Fate or coincidence....
It is amazing how intricately woven many lives are - sometimes revealed and many more times sadly, never discovered. This is such a beautiful story of lives lost, lives found.....loves woven together by fate - or was it coincidence? Their stories of their losses, their pain, their joys - all that got them to this one day in time in which the story takes place is a beautifully woven together book of the four lives of the four central characters of this novel. This is such a sorrowfully moving story.
Ann B. (Bethlehem, PA)

Breathtaking
After receiving The Paris Hours this week, I began eagerly reading this highly endorsed book. The consistent arrangement of the chapters in repeated quartets was genius, a foreshadowing of how the characters' lives are woven together like a beautiful hair braid. I read with anticipation, but also apprehension, unable to put the book down. The writing is simply stunning, and I found myself rereading paragraphs, a marvel of style and description. Souren, Guillaume, Jean-Paul, and Camille reveal their hopes and dreams, but also their past secrets, which create the fabric of their lives. As the story draws ever carefully to a breathtaking conclusion, I am still contemplating the possibilities long after the cover has closed.
Julie Z.

The Paris Hours
Day 10 of Coronavirus quarantine, and The Paris Hours was just what I needed. Paris in the twenties comes alive with fictionalized and true to life characters interwoven with individual plots that come together in the end. I most enjoyed the sections with Proust and his maid. Although I felt some of the stories seemed a bit too "convenient" to be plausible, I was wrapped up in the story, and practically read the book in one sitting. It will take you away and set you in Paris!
Arden A. (Longboat Key, FL)

An intriguing 24 hours in Paris, 1927
I tend to read more than one book at a time, hence I found it difficult to follow the stories, because each chapter was a different character and I had to go back to re-familiarize myself. That being said, I thought it was a really good book. I enjoyed the way four ordinary people had such different stories and how they eventually came together in a climax at the end of the 24 hours. They were all tragic figures in their own way, but I guess that is a sign of the times they lived in. And I also like the way real life characters were woven into the plot: Ernest Hemingway, Josephine Baker, Marcel Proust. I spent some time on Wikipedia reconnecting to these historical figures. It is a well-crafted and well-written book.
Lin Z

I wish I knew Paris!
I loved this story! I gave it 4 stars because the French names, locations, and words were a bit confusing to me and I had to look some of them up on a translation app! Maybe a street map included would have helped since the streets were often named and seemed important. At first I confused the characters of the journalist and the painter. That being said, I would highly recommend this novel! The author, Alex George, writes beautiful prose. I was intrigued how these 4 people would be connected and felt their secrets were tragic and worthy of discovery, which made me persist in reading. These people were all traumatized by the war and I couldn't predict how the story would end. Adding famous people and places gave the story an authentic feel. I would like my book club to read it.
Susan G. (Philadelphia, PA)

The Paris Hours Review - S. Gabriel
Overall, I enjoyed the book very much. The setting was wartime Paris, which provided a rich setting to develop deep and multidimensional characters, which the author did superbly. I liked all of them and found it easy to engage with them emotionally. The author's language was spirited and eloquent; '..but those dazzling syncopations do not last forever'; 'The wallpaper is staging a slow escape from the walls.'; 'optimism on such a cosmic scale was an art.' Through the despair, devastating losses and suffering of the characters, the author showed how the enduring power of hope can soothe the human spirit, even if resolution doesn't ever come. The use of real, contemporary figures such as Hemingway, Proust, and Stein, was brilliant.
What held me back from rating this book a '5 - very good' was the fact that none of the characters ever achieved complete emotional healing or reconciliation. I was left feeling sad and somewhat 'flat' at the end, because I wanted each of them to get what they were searching for. Personally, I like it when stories end on a positive note, even if real life doesn't always work out that way. I would highly recommend this book to readers who like a gripping, emotional story with deep characters who show the best and worst of human kind.

Beyond the Book:
  Gertrude Stein (1874-1946)

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The Paris Hours
by Alex George

One day in the City of Light. One night in search of lost time.

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