What if you only had a week to understand the secrets of the past that have left your mother with severe depression and yourself prone to panic attacks? A Week in Paris by Rachel Hore is the story of two young women caught up in the glamour and tragedy of Paris. Kitty Travers left England in 1937 to study piano in Paris. In 1961 her daughter, Fay Knox is playing the violin as part of a week-long symphonic tour of Paris. Fay remembered a trip to Paris as a schoolchild when she had experienced what felt like flashbacks even though her mother told her that she had never been to France. Just before Fay left, her mother told her to talk to Mother Superior Marie at St. Cecelia. The novel alternates between Kitty and Fay as they each fall in love in the romantic city. The book portrays the particular attractions of Paris during each era. The dangers of wartime are a part of the story that Fay needs to understand so she can help her mother heal.
A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable starts out sounding like an average chic lit type of book. April Vogt is a furniture expert working for Sotheby’s New York office who specializes in 18th and 19th century continental furniture. She is sent to Paris to help evaluate the contents of an apartment that has been shuttered for over seventy years. April is very willing to take working month in Paris. In addition to an intriguing professional challenge, this time away from home will give her space to evaluate her troubled marriage. In spite of the dust and cobwebs, the apartment is a treasure trove. There is a piece of furniture that belonged to Marie Antoinette and many items of similar value. The apartment tenant had been a hoarder, but her hoardings hadn’t been stacks of old newspaper. One of the finds is an unknown portrait done by a famous artist. April accidentally found a diary that had been written by the apartment’s tenant. This diary is interspersed with the April’s story so we learn the history of the acquisition of all the apartment’s beautiful things. The book is a complex story of love lost and found and a pleasurable course in art history.
In my opinion, journalists often write the best books. Kati Marton has written an enjoyable memoir, Paris a Love Story, which focuses mainly on the periods of her life which were spent in Paris. During the sixties she was an American student at the Sorbonne. Paris was a time of wonder and enjoyment, and then the student riots began. After she went home she drifted into reporting, eventually becoming a TV news reporter. When she was transferred to Bonn, Germany she met and married ABC news anchor Peter Jennings. Time in Paris was always a part of the background. A second marriage was to renowned diplomat Richard Holbrooke and they were frequently in Paris together. The book is a window on an exciting, absorbing life and a beautiful and charming city.