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Haunting Paris

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  838 ratings  ·  204 reviews
A timeless story of love and loss is transformed when a bereaved pianist discovers a mysterious letter among her late lover's possessions, launching her headlong into a decades-old search for a child who vanished in the turbulence of wartime Paris.

In the summer of 1989, while all of Paris is poised to celebrate the bicentennial of the French Revolution, Sylvie mourns
Hardcover, 275 pages
Published June 18th 2019 by Nan A. Talese
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Average rating 3.87  · 
Rating details
 ·  838 ratings  ·  204 reviews

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Aug 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: set-in-france, 2019
Recently when I was scrolling through the historical fiction on Netgalley it seemed like every other novel was set in France during WW2. Not only that but they all sounded like they were built to the same formula - heroic women, dual timelines, an undiscovered mystery or secret. This one attracted me because it sounded different, more literary, less formulaic (despite the presence of some of the above tropes).

At the heart of this novel is the night in 1942 when the French police rounded up many
Karen R
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“Squandered time. The most enduring of regrets. In the end, a lifetime is not enough, the heart yearns for more.”

A highly original and unforgettable story of lovers and loss, merging the dead with the living. I was sympathetic to grieving Sylvie’s story and her quest to unravel the mystery of a letter found in her dead lover Julien’s desk, and especially loved Julien’s musings as a ghostly presence watching over Sylvie. His thoughts are beautifully written.

The author brought Paris’s history to
Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Haunting Paris is an extraordinarily beautiful book. Set in 1989 on the Île Saint-Louis Paris, Sylvie is mourning the death of her lover Julien. His spirit haunts the island, willing her to resolve unfinished sorrows from his past.

How Sylvie and Julien met and built a life together is interwoven with family tragedies during WWII and the German occupation of France. Delicate and ethereal, understated and sublime, this tale floats to the surface with exquisite clarity and ge
Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
Once again this is a book where I don't get all the 5 star reviews. The premise had such potential but the execution was rather weak. I found the

- Timeline overly complex
- Introduction of characters confusing
- Flow disjointed

Either the author has 133 really good friends, or I need to go back to English class. It's a good effort for a first time book, but it's not a 5 star read. I can see where some readers would be mesmerized by the storyline and the descriptions of Paris. Both were powerful, b
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I don't remember the last time I read a book in one sitting, but Haunting Paris is a book that I could not put down until this evocative, sad, and hopeful story had been told and its very satisfying ending was reached. This is a book that covers a tremendous amount of difficult emotional ground, from loss to grief to regret, always with a warm and compassionate tone that ultimately finds its way to forgiveness. It explores themes of sacrifice, family, belonging, and shows that the way to overcom ...more
Jerry D
Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Mamta Chaudhry's beautifully crafted novel lifts off quickly like a symphonic poem whose revered subject is the city of Paris. One cannot resist fondness for her soulful characters, woven together by grief, longing, secrets and love. Gustav Mahler once said that a symphony must contain the whole world, and this lyrical tale, with its ghosts, survivors and dreamers does not shy away from the horrific realities of history, war and genocide. But Chaudhry also conjures motifs of mystery, music, and ...more
Kristy Johnston
This book started out promising but lost its focus at times. I enjoyed the descriptions of Paris, took me right back. I enjoyed the history, though at times it seemed extraneous. I lost the timeline at points. At first it seemed fairly straight-forward, the italicized passages were for the revenant/Julien and the beginning of each chapter was from the point of view of Silvie, then later her American renters or sometimes by another character (maybe too many different points of view). Julien/Silvi ...more
Jonathan Vatner
Nov 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A gorgeously rendered novel about a widow's search for her late husband's family, lost in the Holocaust. I hadn't known much about the fate of the Jews who lived in Paris; Chaudhry relates this history in precise and brutal prose.
The other aspect of the novel that I loved was an ongoing comparison of French and American culture--it made me want to live in Paris!
The book is dark and romantic and, true to its title, haunting.
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Haunting Paris is a beautifully and lucidly written novel, hard to put down and impossible to forget. Paris, past, present and future, is both the setting and the protagonist of this subtly interwoven, resonant and profoundly moving love story.
Jude Alexander
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Haunting Paris has been haunting me since I read it.
Every line is beautifully constructed, every word carefully chosen.
Isle St Louis was described to perfection and the brutality of the war heartbreaking.
A beautiful book, a must for all lovers of Paris and its history.
5 stars definately
Margot Livesey
Jul 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading Haunting Paris for the second time, I appreciated it even more than the first - which is saying a great deal. The novel, which is set in 1989, has a wonderfully suspenseful plot, revolving around the harrowing deportation of the French Jews. The recently widowed Sylvie discovers that her much missed husband has been keeping a secret and sets out to try to discover it. Deportation and death are dark topics but Haunting Paris is full of lighter moments - walks by the Seine, the thoughts of ...more
Amanda Gatt
Jun 12, 2019 rated it liked it
As a classically trained musician myself, I was delighted and eager to read Haunting Paris based on the book synopsis. Unfortunately the novel fell flat for me, a slow and steady downward spiral. While the author writes elegantly and paints a lovely picture, it was difficult to keep track of whether the story was in the 1980s or 1950s. This continuous jumping between eras isn't atypical for historical fiction reads, yet for me it was a bit too distracting and ultimately took away from the romanc ...more
Feb 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A mesmerizing book, full of dark secrets and radiant beauty. It brings Paris to life. I felt I was there without having to buy a plane ticket. Each character is memorably drawn and the writing is gorgeous. Out of unimaginable horrors, Mamta Chaudhry has created a world redeemed by courage and love.
Feb 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A very moving story written with grace and intricacy. It describes great love and great loss, set against the historical reckoning of humankind's cruelest deeds and the celebration of heroism. The author does all this while weaving together charming stories of lanes and byways, music, and a dancing dog. Can't wait for her second novel! ...more
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an exquisitely written tale of love, lost and a painful reminder of the Holocaust. A historical story with a ghostly imprint that will tug at your heart strings and bring tears to your eyes. The writing is remarkable, the characters exceptional and with an ending that will echo within you long after the last page is read.

Highly recommended!
May 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An exquisite book with love, history and a city that is steeped in culture with it's own share of historical events made this a compelling read.
The writing made me 'feel' the story as I read, totally immersed as I turned the pages.
If you want a book to get lost in, this one fills the bill. 5 STARS!
Grant Barber
Jul 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful writing, unique voice, tale told interestingly. Although plot bears no resemblance to Ondaatje's The English Patient, I found the experience of reading this book to feel similar. ...more
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: hattlibrary
A beautifully realized story weaving in time from WWII to 1989, and featuring the grieving Sylvie, her ghostly love Julien, and the secret she is drawn to solve from a cryptic find in his desk drawer. I heard the author speak about her book on a panel at the Mississippi Book Festival recently, and met her briefly as well. Her knowledge of music served her well as the early career for Sylvie, and she created many interesting characters playing their parts in the drama. This was an excellent read ...more
Mark N
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Literary and lyrical, this novel is set in 1989 Paris and from there reaches back into history with an air of mystery. The story is told in the alternating voices of a narrator and a newly departed spirit, both centered around a still-young widow, her complex family, and the eclectic residents of her elegant building. Deliberately artful, it wraps motifs of music and reverence for this ancient city with echos of romantic and Gothic fiction; yet at the heart of this rich pastiche is a 20th-centur ...more
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this book for a number reasons. The first page, an introduction of sorts, sets the tone for the beautiful language that Chaudhry uses throughout the book. (A simple sentence like "Consomé clear enough ....." - beautiful!) The descriptions of Paris are wonderful. There's humor in her descriptions of Coco, but also in the description of the dinner at the very end of the book. At the same time it's daring of Chaudhry to take on the topic of World War II Paris and the persecutio ...more
Seetha Srinivasan
Mar 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A complex and intriguing structure, deeply researched historical details that are woven with skill and meticulous care into the narrative, deeply sympathetic characters whose captivating story unfolds to reveal the complexities of life--all combine to make this debut novel a clear winner. Set in Paris in 1989, the novel moves between mysteries of the past and life in the present and traces the myriad ways in which history never loses its hold. While Mamta Chaudhry's novel scores in these many wa ...more
Celita Lamar
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a delightfully satisfying read! Mamta Chaudry literally delivers a haunting love story with beautifully drawn characters that include the city of Paris with all of its light and shadows, its glories and its tragedies. As Sylvie slowly emerges from the sorrow of her lover’s death, Julien’s ghost watches from the shadows, unable to help her but silently encouraging her to solve the mystery of his sister’s death and to find his niece, lost during the roundup of French Jews in WW II Paris. The ...more
Feb 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Mamta Chaudhry delivers a gripping story, deftly told and supremely rewarding on many levels. A profound love moves us through this multi-layered mystery. At the same time, we relive a very dark time in the history of Paris, normally known as the "City of Light”. Through exquisitely evocative language, e.g., “like breath on glass", we feel an intense bond between the dead the the living. This is a story worth telling and definitely worth reading. ...more
Veronique McMillan
Feb 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a gripping read! I thoroughly enjoyed it and could not put it down...So much research, so much work has gone into it and it reads like a thriller. It is a historical discovery of WW2 Paris, fascinating! And even for those of us who already know Paris it makes you want to walk in the protagonists footsteps and discover it all over again.
Feb 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
With little spare time, this is just the read I needed and I was happy to rush home from work to get back to "Haunting Paris". It's much more than a love story-I was drawn into an intimate tale of loss and the broader lingering effects of WW2 so vividly depicted that it compelled me to re-imagine my own family's history of internment and continued to move me long after closing the book. ...more
Susan Cumins
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Haunting Paris by Mamta Chaudhry is literary (and literate) fiction at its best. The book is rich in atmosphere, and unfurls in a way that economically and insightfully reveals the moral code of each character. The author’s able interweaving of music, poetry, art, politics, and history kept this reader fascinated right to the last line.
Jeanne S
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A book to savor - a veritable multi-course French feast complete with a very literary, eloquent ghost and a dog named Coco. This polished debut takes the reader from dark to light, from despair to hope. And it took me with it every step of the way with a bit left of leftover haunting reserved for 2:00 am pondering. Impressive. A book not to be missed.

Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A finely tuned novel set in the Paris so many of us know and love. Set in charming historic neighborhoods which come alive as we follow Slyvie, Justine and little Coco through this intriguing narrative of love, loss and hope. Take your time to relish and enjoy. Expectations exceeded.
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was everything a novel should be. I found myself unable to stop reading and yet wanting to savor the unfolding of a tremendous story. This novel reminded me of why I love to read.
Tiffany Rose
May 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautifully written, haunting story. It is a story of. WWII France and survivors of its tragedies. I enjoyed it and think fans of historical fiction will as well.
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Mamta Chaudhry lives with her husband in Coral Gables, Florida, and they spend part of each year in India and in France. Much of her professional career was in television and classical radio at stations in Calcutta, Gainesville, Dallas, and Miami. Mamta has studied with Marilynne Robinson and has also taught literature and creative writing at the University of Miami. Her early fiction, poetry, and ...more

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