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The Paris Hours by Alex George
Historical fiction

The Paris Hours

Early Release

This is an early release that's only available to our members—the rest of the world has to wait to read it.

by Alex George

Excellent choice

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Quick take

Is there anything dreamier than artists in 1920s Paris? Between these pages, you can almost smell the croissants.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Romance

    Romance

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_NonLinear

    Nonlinear timeline

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Sad

    Sad

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Real-life-characters

    Real-life characters

Synopsis

Paris between the wars teems with artists, writers, and musicians, a glittering crucible of genius. But amidst the dazzling creativity of the city’s most famous citizens, four regular people are each searching for something they’ve lost.

Camille was the maid of Marcel Proust, and she has a secret: when she was asked to burn her employer’s notebooks, she saved one for herself. Now she is desperate to find it before her betrayal is revealed. Souren, an Armenian refugee, performs puppet shows for children that are nothing like the fairy tales they expect. Lovesick artist Guillaume is down on his luck and running from a debt he cannot repay—but when Gertrude Stein walks into his studio, he wonders if this is the day everything could change. And Jean-Paul is a journalist who tells other people’s stories, because his own is too painful to tell. When the quartet’s paths finally cross in an unforgettable climax, each discovers if they will find what they are looking for.

Told over the course of a single day in 1927, The Paris Hours takes four ordinary people whose stories, told together, are as extraordinary as the glorious city they inhabit.

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of The Paris Hours.
The Paris Hours

1

Stitches

The Armenian works by the light of a single candle. His tools lie in front of him on the table: a spool of cotton, a square of fabric, haberdasher’s scissors, a needle.

The flame flickers, and shadows leap across the walls of the tiny room, dancing ghosts. Souren Balakian folds the fabric in half, checks that the edges align exactly, and then he picks up the scissors. He feels the resistance beneath his fingers as the steel blades bite into the material. He always enjoys this momentary show of defiance before he gives the gentlest of squeezes, and the scissors cut through the doubled-up fabric. He eases the blades along familiar contours, working by eye alone. He has done this so many times, on so many nights, there is no need to measure a thing. Torso, arms, neckline—this last cut wide, to accommodate the outsized head.

When he has finished, there are two identical shapes on the table in front of him. He sweeps the unused scraps of cloth onto the floor, and picks up the needle and thread. After the sundering, reconstitution. Holding the two pieces of material in perfect alignment, he pushes the tip of the needle through both layers of fabric, and pulls the thread tight. He works with ferocious deliberation, as if it is his very life that he is stitching back together. He squints, careful to keep the stitches evenly spaced. When he is finished, he breaks the thread with a sharp twist of his fingers and holds the garment up in the half-light. A small grunt of satisfaction.

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Why I love it

As both a reader and a baker, I am always drawn to stories that appeal to all of the senses—and there are few times in history that draw me in more than 1920s Paris. Think beautiful gardens, freshly baked bread, cold and crisp wine… not to mention its bounty of talented artists and performers. So I was thrilled to journey to the streets of Paris once again in this novel about the people whose passions radiated from those cobblestone streets each day.

Told over the course of 24 hours, the book introduces four characters whose different lives intersect in powerful ways: There’s the woman whose future lies in the balance after she broke a promise to her old employer. There’s an artist in a bad way who believes his entire fate rests on a chance meeting with Gertrude Stein. There’s an Armenian refugee who performs puppet shows that are not what anyone would expect, and a French journalist who dreams of America, but whose past ties him to the streets of Paris indefinitely.

I loved spending the day with these characters and their incredible backstories, and I could not stop turning the pages until I found out how their lives converged. With guest appearances from Ernest Hemingway, Josephine Baker, and Gertrude Stein, this story was an important and timely reminder of how deeply connected we are to the people around us—and how each of our choices greatly affect the lives of others. A moving tale of hope, regret, and second chances, The Paris Hours is just the book to curl up with for a comforting afternoon.

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Member ratings (10,885)

  • Kelly W.

    Roswell, GA

    Absolutely LOVED this book! It is so well written! The characters are engaging and you want to keep reading to learn more about their lives. Only complaint would be that I wish it was longer!! ♥️♥️♥️

  • Jennifer G.

    York , ME

    I’m a huge fan of thr 1920s and of Paris. Anything to do with the “Lost Generation” I adore. Alex George’s last book, Setting Free the Kites was one of my favorite books, The Paris Hours is now one.

  • Rylee V.

    Aurora, TX

    Phenomenal!! My favorite quote was “I don’t believe that God put us on this earth so we could be miserable. We only get so many chances at happiness. I think we should take every single one of them”.

  • Hillary E.

    Atherton, CA

    I love 1920s Paris. Veering away from familiar characters of the era, George weaves together the stories of “regular” people on the periphery, which are arguably more fascinating. Lovely storytelling.

  • Heather T.

    Dolgeville, NY

    Such an addicting book. I couldn’t put it down. It was beautifully written while also being haunting beautiful. I laughed and cried along with the characters. I’m thinking about this book years later.

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