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Paris by the Book

A touching story of a family consumed by a mysterious disappearance that launches them on a literary journey in the City of Light.


SUMMARY They met outside a bookstore in Wisconsin! Leah, a former film student, whose favorite film was The Red Balloon by Albert Lamorisse and Robert, a struggling author, loved the Madeline books by Ludwig Bemelmans. The two continued to debate about which was better, even after they got married and had children of their own, two little girls. Both works are set in Paris, and Leah and Robert’s ultimate dream was to go to Paris, but there was never enough money. And then one day Robert went out for a run and totally disappeared. No one could find any trace of him, or knew whether he was dead or alive. Leah and the girls, Daphne, 14, and Ellie, 12, were devastated, confused and inconsolable. They don’t want to believe that he is dead, but they also can’t believe he would leave them for good. Perhaps it was time to go to Paris, maybe Robert was there. There are clues pointed in that direction, particularly a half finished manuscript about a family in Paris. Once they are there, it’s not long before they are living above and running a failing bookstore…and believe they are seeing Robert everywhere.

REVIEW Paris by the Book is the story of a woman whose life has been usurped by her husband’s disappearance. Leah’s character is well developed and you can easily understand her struggle of not knowing if he is dead or alive. The mystery of Robert’s disappearance most definitively propels the narrative. Parts of the story are brilliant and fun, while a few parts are confusing and slow. Leah’s thoughts frequently are wandering here and there, pondering the past, struggling with the present and worried about the future. But who can blame her, given the situation. Book People and Paris lovers should appreciate this story. Not being familiar with The Red Balloon film, the book motivated me to watch it one afternoon. Very interesting! Liam Callanan is an American author and professor of English at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, his other novels include Cloud Atlas and All Saints. Thanks to Penguin for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Published April 3, 2018.

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