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Paris Was the Place
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Paris Was the Place

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3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  647 ratings  ·  144 reviews
“Sensual and seductive, Paris Was the Place pulls you in and doesn’t let you go. Find your nearest chair and start reading. With her poet's eye, Conley has woven a vivid, masterful tale of love and its costs.” —Lily King, author of Father of the Rain

When Willie Pears begins teaching at a center for immigrant girls who are all hoping for French asylum, she has no idea it wi
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Hardcover, 368 pages
Published August 6th 2013 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2013)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Britany
I won this book in a Firstreads giveaway.

Willow Pears lives in Paris, teaching poetry, and volunteering at a center off the Rue De la Metz for girls that are seeking asylum from immigration laws trying to send them back to their home countries. At the center, Willie, befriends the girls from all over the world and becomes attached to one in particular, Gita from India. She also falls in love with Macon, the lawyer fighting for these girls' asylum in France.

Willie is still having a tough time d
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Randee Baty
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
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Macpudel
Full disclosure - I received a free copy of this book as part of the Amazon Vine program.

Historical novels that take place during one’s adult life are a different reading experience than books set in the distant past. When I read a book set in the Napoleonic era, I’m not mentally arguing with the author about the realities of the time.

Paris Was The Place is the story of Willie, which is short for Willow. Anachronism #1 – hippie babies were being born in the 80s, not 30 years old. Willow? Not so
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Nancy O'Toole
Paris Was the Place is an interesting read. I didn't think it was a bad book. In fact, there were some parts of it that I quite liked. Unfortunately, the book as a whole didn't mesh well with me. Most of my issues stem from the fact that it felt very unfocused. We have the story of Willow teaching poetry to immigrants seeking asylum. Willow's relationship with her brother, and flash backs of her family. A romantic storyline with a lawyer. A trip to India. Etc. Unfortunately, none of these storyl ...more
Michelle
This has garnered a lot of terrific reviews, throw in the Paris element and I was sold. I was also happy to learn this was the same author who wrote the The Foremost Good Fortune – a wonderfully written memoir with a ton of heart and humor, and a book that’s stayed with me for a long time.

Paris was the Place is equally well-written. The author has an immediacy to her voice that is appealing and draws the reader in. I love the premise: a woman goes to teach poetry to young immigrant girls who are
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Amber
Sentimental, heartfelt, eloquently visual, this book draws you into Paris in a realistic and captivating way. The narrator is distinctly human, flawed but trying, good-intentioned and young. Her job to help her students unfolds in an emotional story about generosity, family, loneliness, and so much more. As a romance and coming-of-age story the plot is a definite success for me. It contains many touching and tender moments, and while it is tragic it is also hopeful.
This book captures what it's
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Marissa
I received an advanced copy from Elle magazine for review.

This is a perfect summer read. From Paris to India, from love to friendship, this novel covers Paris is a character itself in this novel. The description of the streets, the sights, and the people were so well written, I felt as if I was walking through Paris myself. And then the novel takes a detour to India, and again I felt I had been to this country that I have never been to before. The novel transports you to these places, and also t
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Jean
Susan Conley is a very talented writer. I love reading about Paris. Books that take place in Paris are right up my alley. This was not the usual. Not only did Conley manage to bring Paris to life like never before, she also gave me a view of India that I might never have experienced without having read this novel. Although some of the content is sad and deals with dire illness, I have ended up with a very good impression. Not for the faint of heart, but do take this one in.
Cindy Fox
Disappointing, I was interested in the plight of young refugee girls, about to be deported from Paris, but I found the leading character torn in too many directions to fully engage in any one of the themes in the book - the loss of her mother, the isolation from her father, her first real love affair, her brother's illness her friend's new baby, the poems of an Indian woman, a quick trip to India, and the plight of the refugees. Scattered!
Megan Willis
This book was so bad I could only (barely and with a lot of eye rolling and wondering what the heck she is even talking about) read 20 pages and then had to immediately return it to the library.
Sharon
Willow Pears is an American teaching in Paris; she spends her spare time helping girls in a refugee center prepare for their immigration hearings. In the process, she finds herself falling in love with human rights attorney Macon Ventri ... but nothing about their story is romantic.

From the painful stories of young women fleeing rape, sex trafficking and more in their countries of origin (not much has changed since the late 1980s, when this book is set), to the challenges of the earliest days of
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AmblingBooks
"I've spent the last week listening to Paris Was The Place while I walked these lovely fall afternoons along the ocean, and I wept, again and again. I was captivated by the story while I chopped and stirred ratatouille. I kept listening when I climbed under the covers these early chilly evenings. I couldn't let go of the story. The characters continue to live in me after the last lines. I was in awe of your creating these characters that moved me to tears. I was so touched by their depth, their ...more
Lisa Christen
I liked this book. But, I didn't like how it began. Not the story part; it just didn't grab me like a good book "out of the gates" grabs you. So I went several days without "wanting" to read it. It did gather speed about midway through and then I wanted to see what was going to happen. I believe that the reason for this was that I really didn't know where this story was going. Who was the story about. Was it about the girls that Willow was trying to help at the shelter? Was it about Willow's bro ...more
Ann
I received this book from GoodReads First Reads

Willie Pears begins teaching immigrant girls at a center for those seeking French asylum. As she learns their stories and the legal procedures involved, Willie desperately hopes for the best, often glossing over continuous doses of shrewd advice from the French lawyer, Macon. Grappling with her feelings toward Macon, her brother's failing health, and her determination to protect Gita, a young girl from the center, Willie is forced to examine the l
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Amy
I spent the first quarter really annoyed with the book and annoyed with the main character but I also couldn't put it down - I feel like I finished it more out of a sense of frustration than anything. I was really interested in the story of the asylum seekers more than anything. However, they are just a plot device to give this otherwise stock-character-filled novel something interesting. None of the other story lines or characters were special or unique or particularly new - BUT there is a reas ...more
Gaele
I had a bit of an up and down reaction to this book. Told in the first person, this perhaps was my largest difficulty. I will admit to being harsh about first person narrative, there is a fine line between moving a story forward with a character’s voice and bringing the forward motion to a complete halt with inclusions of all the ephemera that we normally wouldn’t share with our friends during the day. Here often was a problem as descriptions of numerous Metro journeys, that weren’t used to expl ...more
Karen Michele
Overall, I enjoyed Paris was the Place, but I did feel that after being engaged in the story of Willow's work with immigrant girls, their different stories, her attachment to one of the girls and her love for Macon, the lawyer trying to help the girls stay in Paris for half of the book, I was suddenly drawn in to a different story. Willow's gay brother, Luke, is an important part of her life in Paris and her relationship with him and his partner help fill in the backstory of her life before Pari ...more
Beth Hartnett
Let me start out by saying that I am a huge Susan Conley fan and I look forward to reading her second novel. Her first book, a memoir, is on my Favorites shelf and I had the foremost good fortune of meeting her in Portsmouth. Her first novel has a lot going for it. First of all, it is set in Paris, a magical city I know fairly well and love. The characters are interesting and she succeds in pulling you into their lives and making you care about them. There are snatches of fabulous writing that l ...more
Jennifer
I did not care for this book at all. The word "disjointed" came to mind several times as I was reading. This book could not decide what it wanted to be about, and as a result it never became a cohesive, clear story. I liked the premise, about a teacher in Paris who is hired to teach poetry to foreign girls in a home who are petitioning for asylum. These girls have no family and have suffered serious hardships in their lives, so I thought the book would mostly focus on them and their journeys. Ho ...more
Jane Brant
While like most expats trying to escape themselves and their lives, Willow goes to Paris where the "greats" like Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Stein also went to find a new, more meaningful life. But I was pleasantly surprised by the sensitivity and selflessness of the main character Willow when she loves and cares for her friends, her students, and her family. While the story is heartbreaking when her brother loses his battle with AIDS, it is redemptive in how people with differences come together ...more
Amanda
I'm still thinking so much about Willie and Macon, and Luke, long after I finished this book. Usually books set in Paris make the city a huge presence, impressing us with its beauty and romance-- but here Susan Conley has made Paris a very realistic place. Refugees live there, people become ill, hearts are broken-- all taking place along the amazing picturesqueness of the city. Looking forward to reading the author's previous book now!
Clare Morin
A deeply satisfying read that takes you to Paris, to the romantic beaches of France and the grubby backstreets, into hospitals and a refugee detention center. It takes you deeply into a woman's heart - and on a journey as that heart gets tested and pulled through pain and bliss. I loved reading this book. The characters followed me as I walked about my life. It made me question the stories hiding behind the faces that passed me on the street. It made me want to look more closely. It made me feel ...more
Sanjeev
Willow Spears is an American Poetry professor working in Paris who starts preparing refugee girls in a shelter for their asylum hearing in French court. She gets emotionally involved with some, particularly one girl from India, Gita Kapoor and helps her escape the shelter and Willow for a while is banished from the shelter. Macon is the French lawyer for those girls with whom Willow falls in love and visits India with him to do research on Indian poet Sarojini Naidu, on whom Willow is writing a ...more
Caitlin
Loved this book - gorgeously written and a gripping story. Not easy to put down or to forget! Willie Pears is a compelling character and I was moved by the fierce ties she forms to all the people in her life -- her sick brother, her students at the immigration center where she teaches, and her new love, the lawyer, Macon. Each of the novel's subplots was a satisfying read in and of itself, and together they formed an incredibly rich reading experience.
Bookphile
Aug 11, 2014 Bookphile marked it as did-not-finish
DNFing at page 88. This book is so dull! I feel no connection to the main character, her love interest doesn't talk like a real person, I know exactly where the subplot with her brother is headed, and the refugee girls are only a small part of the plot, which bugs me as the whole reason I decided to read this book was because I thought that aspect of the plot would play a larger role. Plus, while I adore Paris, I can't take any more of the descriptions of the routes the main character takes to g ...more
Virginia
I really have no idea what this book was supposed to be about. Perhaps in the hand of a different author, a skilled author, this might have been a good story.

(view spoiler)
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Linda Bridges
Willow (Willie) Pears is an American working at a French school in Paris and doing research about an Indian poet. While waiting for the school term to end and her trip to India to begin, she begins volunteering to work with refugee girls seeking asylum in France. She learns their stories, works with them on how to communicate why they are seeking asylum when they appear in court, and gets involved romantically with their attorney. As she deals with their worries and fears, she has to face the s ...more
Kara
Disappointing. I found the writing style to be very disjointed. The writer would be in the middle of a thought then add in some random idea...it was hard to follow and the character development was very poor.
Shylashree Chikkamuniyappa
It was a relaxing read and the author does a good job building her characters. Willow, an American works with refugee teenage girls in an asylum center to get them prepared for their hearings in a French court. Her childhood; interactions with her brother Luke/HIV/Gaird; her friends Rajiv/Sara and their baby Lily; affair with the lawyer Ventri and his son Pablo and finally visit to India to write about Sarojini Naidu fill the pages. The main focus though is her experience with the French law; su ...more
Kayla
I didn't finish it, I gave up. Not what I expected.
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Susan Conley is the author of Paris Was the Place (Knopf, August 2013), an Amazon Fall Big Books Pick for fiction, an Indie Next Pick, and an Elle Magazine Readers Prize Pick. People magazine calls it “a satisfying cassoulet of questions about home, comfort and love, served with a fresh perspective on a dazzling city” while Booklist says that, “Deftly exploring the complexities of friendship, fami ...more
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“Here it is out in the open and based—like all love is, maybe—on some amount of abiding affection and on some other amount of need.” 0 likes
“I can’t help smiling. He’s the reminder of the best part of our family. He’s me and not me. Better than me, because he sees me from afar and still loves me in a way that I can’t always love myself. And who can do that? Stop judging themselves?” 0 likes
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