The Paris Hours
Momma Leighellen's Book Review
Book Nook Book Club Pick
The Paris Hours was my Book of The Month Club pick for April. I also chose it for my Momma Leighellen’s Book Nook Book Club choice. Every month, I host a book club chat over on Instagram. I pick a historical fiction book to read, then I post questions online and we share and discuss the book.
The Paris Hours is a historical fiction book in it’s finest hour.
A multi POV book set in 1920’s Paris, the story is uniquely told over the course of one single day. Flashbacks are included for reference, perspective, and character depth. Throughout the course of the day, we get an intimate look into the lives of four every day Parisians – an artist, an author, a refugee, and a housemaid – and the challenges and choices that shape them.
While there were cameos from some famous historical figures from this time period – Maurice Ravel, Joséphine Baker, Marcel Proust, and Gertrude Stein – they didn’t steal the show. The beauty, magic, and heartbreak in the every day is what wins in this book. Proust says it best “My dear Camille, why on earth do you imagine that those people are more interesting than you? Be yourself!”
The depth of heartache and longing of each character, their push for the hope of the future while stuck int he past, is what raises this book above the ordinary. My friend Carly said it best during book club – this book feels cozy. The characters, rather than the setting take center stage.
There is a sense of longing to many of the characters as they seek a breakthrough of some kind in their life. There is also an ode to art in multiple forms as a way of expression and relief through painting, music, and writing. “The painting, Souren knows with absolute certainty, was created with him in mind. The artist has looked into Souren’s soul and has painted what he saw there. A stranger has painted him from the inside out, and the truth is there for every passerby to see.”
The four main story lines all seem completely unlinked – the maid is grieving her dead boss while hiding a painful secret, the painter is greatly in debt and seeking a way out, the puppeteer is heartbreakingly lonely and wishes to be seen, and the author has been searching for his daughter for years -but it all comes together to a satisfying conclusion