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Perestroika in Paris: A novel by Jane Smiley

Perestroika in Paris: A novel (edition 2020)

by Jane Smiley (Author)

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17015127,190 (3.97)21
Title:Perestroika in Paris: A novel
Authors:Jane Smiley (Author)
Info:Knopf (2020), Edition: 1st, 288 pages
Collections:Read but unowned

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Perestroika in Paris by Jane Smiley


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Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
Smiley seems to be able to do it all. This is a delightful book, especially for horse lovers and those among us who feel a connection with all animals. ( )
  ccayne | Aug 22, 2021 |
I am a very visual person, and sometimes a book will bring to my mind a picture or a painting. Perestroika in Paris makes me think of paintings by Grandma Moses. There is something childish and naïve about this story where a horse gets lose on the streets of Paris, befriends a dog, a couple of mallards, a raven, and eventually an eight-year-old boy.

Reading it takes you back to simpler times, to fairy tales, to the first love of books as a child. As the story develops, you do wonder how it the plot will resolve itself, and at the end it does, as it is expected of good tales. One does have to without disbelief, but the as a reader I did effortlessly, just following the narration.

I am thankful for this book at this moment, when Covid is taking so many lives, when so many are suffering. It brought me joy and escape when I needed it. I say in my profile that I give stars to books as a personal measure of the pleasure a book gave me, and in this way, I am giving it 5 stars.
( )
  RosanaDR | Apr 15, 2021 |
The New York Times aptly describes Smiley’s latest work as “a feel-good escape.” I agree, but this escape included a bit too much meandering for my liking. I was initially be dazzled and delighted by the characters that populate this talking menagerie, relishing several laugh-out-loud moments. But midway through this 280+ page odyssey, I had wished that the brilliant author had delivered a novella of “Charlotte’s Web”-like length (perhaps 75-to-100 fewer pages). ( )
  brianinbuffalo | Apr 11, 2021 |
Perestroika in Paris, Jane Smiley, author; Suzanne Toren, narrator
This is a delightfully unusual fairy tale about animals who assume the attributes of humans. The characters are so authentically presented that the reader soon begins to think that a horse and a dog are actually conversing with each other, and also have the ability to understand and communicate with the humans they encounter. They are well able to sense if there are threats of danger near them. All of the creatures are depicted with interesting personality traits that are charming so that even the rat, often feared by some animals and humans alike, have a kind and likeable side that endears them to the reader. When the emotional side of these characters is revealed, the creatures becomes more acceptable and less objectionable and/or frightening to each other and to strangers.
The thoroughbred horse has been sheltered by his owners, and when she decides to explore the world as she walks through her open stall door, she meets many unlikely friends. Each of the creatures is on their own because of choice or circumstance, but although vastly different, they learn to respect each other. Soon, as their friendship grows, they also protect each other.
As they encounter humans of varying personalities, they are able to discern whether or not they are dangerous or kind. Their analysis of situations is based on their limited view of the world, the view they have been allowed to see or have had the opportunity to observe. The bird, of course, has the broadest overview, since flight enables birds to see much more than someone planted firmly on the ground.
As the dog, the horse, the bird and even the rat get to know each other better, mutual respect and admiration develop. They become more accepting of those they once feared. When a young boy is added to the mix, real compassion sets him apart. He comprehends their travails and seems to know how to provide for them so that they can survive and at the same time remain hidden from the authorities that might disrupt this little coterie. Discovery could separate them all and/or cause their demise. The boy is also in a precarious situation and is in need of companionship. Each of the characters is alone in his/her own way. Each needs to learn how to navigate the world. Each needs some guardian angel to save them. All of them seem to have a natural enemy based on circumstances beyond their control.
The empathy and compassion exhibited is very heartwarming. How the dog learns to use money to manage purchases and obtain necessary food could be an example for humans. In addition, the developing feelings of respect for each other and their belongings is a great example of good character. The tale is tender and an example of how humans might think about their own fixed ideas and reconsider them. Sometimes fear is based on misunderstandings or ignorance. Sometimes it is based on a reality that is drawn from incomplete information and a rush to judgment. Often a higher authority is necessary to clarify conflicts.
This is a clever portrayal of life using anthropomorphism to break it down to its simplest terms. Ultimately, they are all, human and creature, trying to survive and stay content within their circumstances. Positive attitudes thrive over negative ones, and independence is rewarded over sloth. Instinct often helps them anticipate problems and alter their behavior. They use their senses and common sense to determine how to act. Their inexperience, youth, lack of exposure and interaction with other species sometimes makes it hard to comprehend the world around them. Isn’t this also true of human beings? This could be a primer on how to get along with each other regardless of our differences. Patience, kindness, forgiveness and anthropomorphism are the winners of the day. ( )
  thewanderingjew | Apr 6, 2021 |
Clever; but animals talking never connected with me. I didn’t finish this one! ( )
  JosephKing6602 | Apr 4, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
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From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author: a captivating, brilliantly imaginative story of three extraordinary animals--and a young boy--whose lives intersect in Paris.

Paras, short for "Perestroika," is a spirited racehorse at a racetrack west of Paris. One afternoon at dusk, she finds the door of her stall open and--she's a curious filly--wanders all the way to the City of Light. She's dazzled and often mystified by the sights, sounds, and smells around her, but she isn't afraid.

Soon she meets an elegant dog, a German shorthaired pointer named Frida, who knows how to get by without attracting the attention of suspicious Parisians. Paras and Frida coexist for a time in the city's lush green spaces, nourished by Frida's strategic trips to the vegetable market. They keep company with two irrepressible ducks and an opinionated raven. But then Paras meets a human boy, Etienne, and discovers a new, otherworldly part of Paris: the ivy-walled house where the boy and his nearly-one-hundred-year-old great-grandmother live in seclusion.

As the cold weather nears, the unlikeliest of friendships bloom. But how long can a runaway horse stay undiscovered in Paris? How long can a boy keep her hidden and all to himself? Jane Smiley's beguiling new novel is itself an adventure that celebrates curiosity, ingenuity, and the desire of all creatures for true love and freedom.
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