Saturday, February 7, 2015

A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable

A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable
Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press, 2014
378 pages
I received a free copy of the finished book through a blog win at France Book Tours

Often when I read these two story line novels, especially ones containing a story from the past entwined with a contemporary story, I find one story gets in the way of the other and I get confused in the muddle. If you can decipher the proceeding sentence then maybe you have a chance with this book.

It is not that I didn't like either story. I found both interesting. The contemporary story concerned April Vogt, a furniture expert assigned to assess the value of objects found in a "time capsule"--a Paris apartment locked up and untouched since the 1940s. April has some problems, including a difficult marriage, which complicate an extended stay in Paris.

The historic story involves Marthe de Florian a courtesan of  Belle Époque Paris, who owned the contents of the apartment. A fascinating woman who had several lovers and admirers including the painter Giovanni Boldini. Gable's book presents a fictionalized account of Marthe as recorded in a series of diary entries. How much of this story is based on fact and how much on the author's imagination is unclear, but it really doesn't matter. It's a good story and it introduces a lot of interesting characters some of which are historical persons. (This stimulated a lot of fun Googling on my part.)

My problem was the way the two stories were connected. The presentation of April's reading of the diary entries at times seems out of sequence and choppy.  At times I felt that it would have been better as two completely separate novels. I had to read the last few chapters a couple of times to make sure I got the story straight.

But it was a fun read. In the modern story the Frenchman Luc's stereotypical attitudes about Americans will amuse Americans, especially ones who have traveled or lived abroad.

I'll include a couple of links from my web exploring, but not most of my Google results because doing so would spoil the fun of Googling these things yourself.

The author has some background information on her web site

For some pictures of the actual apartment see 1942 ‘Time Capsule’ Apartment Discovered In Paris

If you are curious about the genetic test for Alzheimer's Disease mentioned in the modern part of this story the the following fact sheet from the National Institute on Aging: Alzheimer's Disease Genetics Fact Sheet

Square B3 on the French Bingo card.


  1. I think at least two books have been written about that apartment. The news story must have fired lots of peoples imaginations. I'd like to think that I'd get to reading at least one of them, I'm not sure that I will, at least in the near future. I don't mind intertwining stories- if they're done well and it's obvious when you're in each time zone.

    1. It's really an intriguing subject. Hard to believe no one touched the place in all those years.

  2. interesting, I never found it confusing. I actually really enjoyed this book. Thanks for linking it to the French Bingo

    1. It could have been my frame of mind. It was mostly near the end that I got confused.