cover image The Paris Hours

The Paris Hours

Alex George. Flatiron, $26.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-250-30718-7

Set in Paris over 24 hours in summer 1927, George’s engrossing third novel (after Setting Free the Kites) interweaves the lives of four characters struggling with loss, loneliness, and secrets. A decade after Turkish forces drove Souren Balakian from his home in Anatolia, he attempts to exorcize terrifying memories through his puppet shows. Before fleeing Paris to avoid reprisal for unpaid debts, Guillaume Blanc decides to meet the daughter he believes was born from his tryst with a trapeze artist 10 years earlier. Camille Clermont has saved one of the notebooks her late employer, Marcel Proust, asked her to burn; when her husband sells it without her permission, she fears that a shameful secret she confided to Proust will become public. Journalist Jean-Paul Maillard interviews luminaries such as Josephine Baker, but his heart is in the unpublished book he wrote about his infant daughter, Elodie, who disappeared in 1918 amid the German shelling that killed his wife. By evoking fictional characters and historical figures with equal vividness and wisely using repeated motifs (a Ravel piece, a prostitute, a club, a painting), George unites his narratives in a surprising yet wholly convincing denouement. Elegant and evocative, this will have special appeal for lovers of Paris and fans of Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife. (May)