Review: A Paris Apartment (+ Excerpt + Giveaway)

Posted 8 October, 2014 by Lianne in Books / 4 Comments

A Paris Apartment
By: Michelle Gable
Format/Source: Hardback courtesy of the publishers as part of A Paris Apartment France Book Tours

Bienvenue à Paris!

When April Vogt’s boss tells her about an apartment in the ninth arrondissement that has been discovered after being shuttered for the past seventy years, the Sotheby’s continental furniture specialist does not hear the words “dust” or “rats” or “decrepit.” She hears Paris. She hears escape.

Once in France, April quickly learns the apartment is not merely some rich hoarder’s repository. Beneath the 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, Giovanni Boldini. And then there are letters and journals written by the very woman in the painting, Marthe de Florian. These documents reveal that she was more than a renowned courtesan with enviable decolletage. Suddenly April’s quest is no longer about the bureaux plats and Louis-style armchairs that will fetch millions at auction. It’s about discovering the story behind this charismatic woman.

It’s about discovering two women, actually.

With the help of a salty (and annoyingly sexy) Parisian solicitor and the courtesan’s private diaries, April tries to uncover the many secrets buried in the apartment. As she digs into Marthe’s life, April can’t help but take a deeper look into her own. Having left behind in the States a cheating husband, a family crisis about to erupt, and a career she’s been using as the crutch to simply get by, she feels compelled to sort out her own life too. When the things she left bubbling back home begin to boil over, and Parisian delicacies beyond flaky pâtisseries tempt her better judgment, April knows that both she and Marthe deserve happy finales.

Whether accompanied by croissants or champagne, this delectable debut novel depicts the Paris of the Belle Epoque and the present day with vibrant and stunning allure. Based on historical events, Michelle Gable’s A Paris Apartment will entertain and inspire, as readers embrace the struggles and successes of two very unforgettable women.

Paris, the Belle Epoque, a story about putting together Marthe’s story from the present day…what more could I ask for in such a novel? This novel was published on 22 April 2014.

Thank you to France Book Tours for letting me take part in the book tour for this novel. Included with this review is an excerpt from the book. At the end of this review is also a giveaway contest for a chance to win a print copy of this novel (open to US/Canada readers only!) as well as a link to an excerpt of the novel.

A Paris Apartment was an interesting read. I really enjoyed reading about the work that furniture specialists do; it’s a different way of handling history, handling objects from the past. It was also interesting to learn how this job reflects April’s values and interests, especially as the reader learns more about the protagonist over the course of the novel. The setting adds to the nature of the job as well as the overall storyline; Paris of course is always a lovely place to set a story, and here it and the Belle Epoque time period is used to its full effect, complete with Parisian society and culture. One thing however that became tiresome for me as the novel progressed was how characters every now and then would point out “Oh, Americans *roll eyes*” whenever April said or did something. I know French mannerisms and perspectives differ from other cultures, but after a while it was just tiring to be reminded of it every so often.

The historical storyline with Marthe was interesting enough, complete with familiar artists and historical characters mentioned throughout; Marthe obviously came from a very difficult childhood, and her induction into the world of the courtesan enabled her to travel through different social circles in Paris and become embroiled in all sorts of drama. Her story, unfolding through journals that April discovers in the closed up apartment, shows to the reader the power of telling a story from a character’s particular point of view, but also the caution of what realities we miss as a result of following one particular perspective.

I admit, in the rarest of occasions where two storylines are running in a novel, one historical and one contemporary, I found April’s storyline the more interesting of the two. I found myself strangely intrigued despite the fact that April is hanging on by a thread with all of the problems in her life. I thought her marriage to Troy didn’t make a whole lot of sense, though was oddly compelled to keep reading; granted, the reader is thrown into the middle of a growing distance between Troy and April, and I appreciate that they’re talking through it even as they’re not entirely seeing the other person’s point and there’s a lot of problems going on between them (April’s personal history, a previous transgression on Troy’s part). However, I just couldn’t figure out how they ended up together in the first place, they just seemed like two completely different people coming from totally different backgrounds; April seemed to stick out like a sore thumb in Troy’s lifestyle and social circle (and vice-versa), and I couldn’t figure out if there were any common interests between the two, if there was anything where they met halfway. Nonetheless, I liked that the conflict was handled in a mature manner, showing the complexities of emotions and details about relationships.

I also enjoyed the banter between April and Luc throughout the novel, which was also curious considering he came off like such a…err, jerk (hah, an earlier draft of my review had a stronger word here 😛 ) early in the novel (in fact, most of the men April meets in Paris early in this novel were like that). But the banter was cute, complete with Luc’s use of American phrases, and I couldn’t help but enjoy their strange, magnetic chemistry, even though you can tell early on that this was some temporary thing.

Overall, I enjoyed reading A Paris Apartment: it piques your interest at the beginning and the character interaction throughout keeps you rather glued to the book. Readers who enjoy novels set in France and the Belle Epoque and who enjoy history and handling the antiquities may want to check out this novel.

You can read an excerpt from this novel on this page!

Rating: ★★★½☆

ABOUT Michelle Gable
Michelle Gable is a writer and also a mom, wife, financial executive, sports-obsessed maniac (Go Chargers! Go Aztecs!), Southern California native, barre class fiend, tennis player, and card-carrying member of the Chickasaw Nation. She grew up in sunny San Diego and attended The College of William & Mary, where she majored in accounting as most aspiring writers do.

Throughout a career that started in public accounting and then moved to private equity, then investment banking, and ultimately to the head of FP&A for a publicly-traded software company, Michelle continued to write. And write and write. Her first novel was released on April 22, 2014, her second scheduled for Spring 2016.

Michelle currently resides in Cardiff by the Sea, California, with her husband, two daughters, and one lazy cat.

official website / @ Facebook / @ Twitter / Order a copy of her novel

Now that you’ve read my review of the novel, here’s the giveaway for a chance to win a print copy! Please fill out the following Rafflecopter below to enter; this contest is open to US/Canada only. Contest closes on 27 October. The winners will be drawn and contacted by the blog tour organiser.

Bonne chance!!!

Many thanks again to France Book Tours for hosting this book and for letting me read this book as part of the tour.

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