Paris Was the Place

Susan Conley. Knopf, $26.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-307-59407-5
Paris is the place where Willow “Willie” Pears can finally live near her brother Luke, who’s moved there with his boyfriend after years in China. She’ll teach poetry, try to get over her mother’s death, and, as the story begins, volunteer at a political asylum center, helping teenage girls practice their English while they wait for their court dates. That’s where she meets attorney Macon Ventri. Willie, as she tells us, has an “eager face” that makes her “hard to deny.” The same could be said of the book; it’s tenderhearted, earnest, and sincere in ways that make it hard to deny, even when Willie gets over-involved with Gita, one of the asylum seekers, and is surprised at the trouble she causes; or when it takes Willie and the other characters much too long to diagnose Luke’s persistent cough and exhaustion. As Conley (The Foremost Good Fortune) draws her, Willie may be a bit precious, but she’s also a true believer—not only in poetry but in love—and the heart of the book is the interlocking love stories, between Willie and the almost-to-good-to-be-true Macon, as well as between sister and brother, daughter and mother, and Willie and her asylum-seeking student. Agent: Stephanie Cabot, Gernert Company. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 05/20/2013
Release date: 08/06/2013
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Paperback - 353 pages - 978-0-307-73987-2
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