Paris offers an incredible backdrop for all kinds of stories. Whether it’s a historical tale, a thriller, a romance…the city itself adds a wonderful element of, well, je ne sais quois. My second book is set in Paris, and it was pure pleasure to write a story set in a city I love so much. I have been lucky enough to have visited Paris several times, and I was honored to have reviewers comment that reading my book made them feel like they were right there, nibbling croissants, climbing the Eiffel Tower, exploring the misty streets of Montmartre….
Last month I did a roundup of the best movies set in Paris, but this month, we’re talking books. Here’s a [highly eclectic] list of some of the best Paris-inspired books:
This masterpiece by Charles Dickens needs to be on every reader’s bookshelf–but don’t just read it because they forced you to in high school! Read it as an adult, and appreciate the magnificent tragedy with new eyes.
The Paris Wife is set in a fabled era: the Jazz Age Paris of Ernest Hemingway (and his wife Hadley), Gertrude Stein, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. It’s a poignant story about love, loyalty, art, and creativity.
Les Miserables defines the term “epic”. Passion, adventure, tragedy, sacrifice, ignorance, love, revenge…it’s all in Les Miserables. Even if you’ve seen the musical (and the movie…and the remade movie…) you should really read the book.
I’m not sure why I’ve included this one on the list, because I’m pretty sure you’ve already read it. Just about everyone has, according to the stats. Dan Brown does not possess the most subtle writing style you’ll ever encounter…but you can’t deny his power to tell a great story.
This novel carries a dual narrative, one in 1942 and one in 2002. The story centers around a black day in France’s history, the Vel’ d’Hiv, and the effect it had on two people: Sarah, a 10-year-old girl who went through a terrible ordeal, and Julia Jarmond, a contemporary journalist who begins to uncover the truth.
This one isn’t a novel, it’s a memoir…but I couldn’t resist including it here because it is absolutely wonderful. In 1995, Adam Gopnik, a writer for the New Yorker, decided to move to Paris with his wife and infant son. In this beautifully written memoir he details all the trials, challenges, and wonders of living in the City of Light.
The Perfume Collector is a story of passion, hope, heartbreak, an old Parisian perfume shop, and a mysterious inheritance. It weaves across multiple decades through the lives of two women, Grace Monroe and Eva d’Orsey.
I know this story isn’t entirely set in Paris, but it’s such a classic in the thriller genre, I simply had to give it a mention. Imagine suffering amnesia, like Jason Bourne, and starting to piece together the clues about your past. People are trying to kill you, you have no explanation for the 4 million dollars in a Swiss bank account you don’t remember opening, you’re running for your life…until you begin to realize you are, in fact, a highly trained assassin.
What can I say? You will just have to forgive me for shamelessly including my own book in this list. This is the second book in my Agency of Burglary & Theft series featuring Cat Montgomery, professional jewel thief. In A Magnificent Crime, Cat’s adventures take her to Paris, where she’s blackmailed into planning an impossible heist of the Hope Diamond while it’s on loan to the Louvre. Things are complicated further for Cat by the involvement of her boyfriend, FBI Special Agent Jack Barlow, and the ever-charming Ethan Jones, art thief. (If you’re interested…check out some of my reviews on amazon.com!) So tell me: how many of these have you read? Which is your favorite? Can’t get enough Paris? Here are some of my other Paris-inspired posts, both here and featured on other blogs: