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Paris Was the Place

by Susan Conley

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994274,072 (3.71)4
"From acclaimed author Susan Conley, a novel that gives us a luminous emotional portrait of a young woman living abroad in Paris in the 1980s and trying to make sense of the chaotic world around her as she learns the true meaning of family. When Willie Pears agrees to teach at a Parisian center for immigrant girls who have requested French asylum, she has no idea it will utterly change her life. She has lived in Paris for six months, surrounded by the most important people in her life: her beloved brother, Luke, her funny and wise college roommate, Sara, and Sara's do-gooder husband, Rajiv. And now there is Macon Ventri, a passionate, dedicated attorney for the detained girls. Theirs is a meeting of both hearts and minds--but not without its problems. As Willie becomes more involved with the immigrant girls who touch her soul, the lines between teaching and mothering are blurred. She is especially drawn to Gita, a young Indian girl who is determined to be free. Ultimately Willie will make a decision with potentially dire consequences to both her relationship with Macon and the future of the center. Meanwhile, Luke is taken with a serious, as-yet-unnamed illness, and Willie will come to understand the power of unconditional love while facing the dark days of his death. Conley has written a piercing, deeply humane novel that explores the connections between family and friends and reaffirms the strength of the ties that bind. "--… (more)
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Showing 4 of 4
Isn't it strange how some books, right out of the gate, you warm to the characters? This is one of those rare books. Mist definitely a love story of Paris itself! ( )
  Alphawoman | Feb 25, 2016 |
This is the type of book that reminds me why I love to read. I'm completely caught up in a different world than my own.

The setting is Paris, which I love, and I can see the city as the characters describe it. The main character is a young American poetry teacher who teaches in a French academy. Her brother and his boyfriend also live in Paris. Her best friend and her husband live there as well.

Willie, short for Willow, is asked to teach a poetry class in a detainment center where teenage girls from many countries are waiting to see if France will grant them asylum. Getting to know these girls changes her life completely. She falls in love with one of the lawyers representing the girls, her brother falls ill, her best friend has a baby, she travels to India. There is nothing unexpected in this novel, no big surprises. Just a really beautifully told story about how she interacts with those she loves and what it costs her to do so.

I felt I was living in Willie's world and it was odd to come back to mine when I had to. That is the mark of a good read to me.

I received this book through the GoodReads First Reads program. ( )
1 vote Mrsbaty | Jan 15, 2014 |
Willie volunteers to work with some young woman in a Paris holding facility before their deportation hearings. She has come to Paris to be a literature instructor, and to be near the brother she adores as well as two close friends. Things get complicated when she becomes romantically involved with a lawyer for one of her students, emotionally attached to the young women and helps her escape, and learns that her brother has AIDS. With the first person narration by Willie, we become engaged with the various things going on in her life, and care about what happens. At the same time, there may be too many plot threads, including an estranged father, research about an author in India, and the legalities of young refugees in France. Is it because Willie's father was preoccupied with maps that she names every street and arrondissement that she passes through? While the sense of place is important to the story, the details really are not. Still, this is a novel I'll remember well. ( )
  sleahey | Oct 7, 2013 |
wanted to like this book so much more than I did. I loved the setting and felt like I was in Paris for awhile. I just think the author tried to take on too many stories. First it was about Willow, then the girls in the detention center and then finally her brother. I wish that the story of the girls would have been more about Willow and the immigrant girls. Conley is a beautiful writer just needs work on her story. ( )
  pjhess | Oct 1, 2013 |
Showing 4 of 4
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"From acclaimed author Susan Conley, a novel that gives us a luminous emotional portrait of a young woman living abroad in Paris in the 1980s and trying to make sense of the chaotic world around her as she learns the true meaning of family. When Willie Pears agrees to teach at a Parisian center for immigrant girls who have requested French asylum, she has no idea it will utterly change her life. She has lived in Paris for six months, surrounded by the most important people in her life: her beloved brother, Luke, her funny and wise college roommate, Sara, and Sara's do-gooder husband, Rajiv. And now there is Macon Ventri, a passionate, dedicated attorney for the detained girls. Theirs is a meeting of both hearts and minds--but not without its problems. As Willie becomes more involved with the immigrant girls who touch her soul, the lines between teaching and mothering are blurred. She is especially drawn to Gita, a young Indian girl who is determined to be free. Ultimately Willie will make a decision with potentially dire consequences to both her relationship with Macon and the future of the center. Meanwhile, Luke is taken with a serious, as-yet-unnamed illness, and Willie will come to understand the power of unconditional love while facing the dark days of his death. Conley has written a piercing, deeply humane novel that explores the connections between family and friends and reaffirms the strength of the ties that bind. "--

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