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Perestroika in Paris

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4.02  ·  Rating details ·  7,378 ratings  ·  1,445 reviews
From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Thousand Acres and the New York Times best-selling Last Hundred Years Trilogy, 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
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Hardcover, 288 pages
Published December 1st 2020 by Knopf Publishing Group
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Lana 62 years old. My first book I’ve read in many years.
Jean At first, I thought this book might be perfect for my 11 year old granddaughter. But I came to realize the writing is wordier than a reader her age mi…moreAt first, I thought this book might be perfect for my 11 year old granddaughter. But I came to realize the writing is wordier than a reader her age might appreciate. Also the inclusion of so many French street names and locations might deter some young readers, perhaps interest others. It might make a nice family read-aloud, if the adult reader could judge where to shorten, summarize some of the wordier, mostly descriptive passages.(less)

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Average rating 4.02  · 
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Richard Seltzer
Dec 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A horse, a dog, a raven, a pair of mallards, and a pair of rats survive and thrive on their own in downtown Paris. All of them can talk to and understand one another. All of them can understand what people say. But people can't understand them. Their view of the world is childlike and naive. They muddle along thanks to good luck and the sympathetic good will of the people they encounter, especially an eight-year-old boy.

This isn't an allegory or a fable, like Aesop, Animal Farm, or Watership Do
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vicki honeyman
Apr 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It's been many years since author Jane Smiley, whose 1991 Pulitzer Prize and National Book Critics Circle Award bestseller "A Thousand Acres," has been in my book radar. What a Big Treat it was to discover that not only has Jane Smiley published a new novel to share with her fan base, she's written a story with delightfully unique voices who have a timely message to share with the world. From page one and through the last page, I found myself utterly hooked, falling head over heels in love with ...more
Jonathan K (Plot & Characters Matter)
Due to the characters being animals mixed with several people, it's heart warming but a bit flat. Following a thoroughbred mare, a dog, raven and ducks who speak with one another while making their way around Paris, it becomes repetitious at times. I'd hoped for something similar to the Art of Racing in the Rain, but failed to get it. She's a gifted writer with a great imagination, but the pace, plot and characters are a bit dull. ...more
Kay
Talking animals book for adults? Okay...

That was my initial thought. But because I have a friend who is an absolute horse-lover I got her this book. She also enjoys cozy, and whimsical reads so maybe Perestroika in Paris would be a good book ...
Later I saw this on our library overdrive and decided to borrow it and yup, this is such a great story of friendship through differences. Charming with Paris setting and uplifting. It's a wonderful read especially during this time of year. I can see chil
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Erin Glover
Dec 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel made me feel like a child reading a fairy tale, in a good way. To enjoy it, you'll need to suspend all disbelief. It reminds me of Dr. Doolittle. If you're looking for some nice light reading where animals talk and 8-year-old boys can take care of themselves, this book is for you. If a dog carrying a purse with money into a grocer's and buying food seems too far-fetched, you're better off skipping this one. ...more
Leo
Oct 05, 2022 rated it really liked it
I don't have much to say more than it's was a cozy story for adults that felt sometimes for kids ...more
nastya
Feb 26, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book needs to be a Hayao Miyazaki anime asap! It's a studio Ghibli movie in a book form.
This is a very sweet story about friendship, found family and kindness.
We have a titular very curious filly Paras, smart suspicious dog Frida, who is grieving the death of her human and pompous wise raven Raoul. There's also a young rat Kurt who just wants to find a mate. And we have also 8 year old boy Etienne, who lives with his blind and deaf great-grandmother. And every person around them is kind and
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Jane
Dec 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I feel this fantasy is destined to become a classic. A French racehorse, Perestroika, aka Paras, curious to see the outside world, leaves her stall and escapes to Paris, where she lives for a time, becoming friends with critters [Frida, a dog who instructs the naïve horse about life in the outside world; a bossy though well-meaning raven, Raoul; a duck couple raising a family; Kurt, a rat pining for a mate;] and sympathetic humans, including Etienne, an 8- year-old boy and his nearly 100-year-ol ...more
Ms.pegasus
Nov 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, horses, fantasy
No long review here. The synopsis gives the gist of the story. Jane Smiley is one of my favorite authors. This novel is to be read slowly and savored like comfort food, a delight for passing the winter season.
Nancy
Aug 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is the perfect book to help you escape the world today. Delightful story with lovable and charming characters-an adventurous racehorse, a lonely dog, a know-it-all raven, a pair of ducks, and a couple of rats as well. I loved how the animals interacted with each other and with the compassionate humans they encountered in Paris. I think of it as "Charlotte's Web" for grown ups, but no spiders die. Older children might enjoy the story as well. Definitely one of my favorites read in 2020. Than ...more
Darla
Nov 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
Perestroika (Paras for short) discovers an unlatched stall and ventures out to find out if the grass really is greener in other parts of Paris. She meanders into a park near the Eiffel Tower and her period of freedom begins. Along with her are Frida (a dog), Roux (a raven), and Sid and Nancy (the Mallard couple). Frida is smart enough to know what to do with the euros in the purse Paras brings along. Roux pontificates at length on a variety of subjects. Eventually they go home with a boy who liv ...more
Rebecca
Yes, this is a talking animal book, but the animals only talk to each other; they communicate with humans through their gestures and soulful eyes. Kindly shopkeepers work out what Frida wants to buy based on what she stares at or points to with a paw; the baker whose window Paras passes on her early morning walks intuits that the horse is hungry; Etienne, who gives a couple of the stray animals a home during a chill winter, learns to understand when Paras needs to go out to relieve herself, afte ...more
Holly R W
Perestroika is Paras, a curious filly who runs away from her life as a racing, jumping thoroughbred to Paris. She finds a meadow there in Champ de Mars, where she is able to live freely. Her found companions are a German short hair dog named Frida, a raven, a mallard duck pair and a rat. Before reading the book, I was curious about how the author could pull this off, writing about these animals in an interesting, believable way. Jane Smiley does this admirably - It is evident that she has a sens ...more
Nancy
Dec 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: publisher-sent
Jane Smiley's Perestroika in Paris was an easy reading, charming book, but for many pages I wondered what was the 'point'? Every book that gives animals human thought and language has a point, right?

Sure, Paras (short for Perestroika) is a wonderful character, a filly too curious for her own good, who leaves the comforts of her home at the stable and the horse racing she loves to see the world--or, at least, Paris under the Eiffel Tower.

Then there is Frida, the German Shorthaired Pointer ticked
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Karen Powers
Feb 18, 2021 rated it did not like it
This book was a book club selection. I was looking forward to reading it... that is until I got about five pages into it! Is this book a joke? Jane Smiley should be ashamed of herself. I felt like I was reading a children’s book from beginning to end - both due to story and writing. I can’t fathom why this book has received such good reviews from readers. It was pure torture to read. I did finish it to confirm that my early opinion stayed the same - and because it was for my book club. But that ...more
Susan
Nov 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Charming, but my heart still belongs to Justa Bob.
Mary Camille Thomas
Sep 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I’m suspicious of adult novels written from an animal’s point of view, but I trust Jane Smiley, and I admit, I was charmed by the cover, so I gave Perestroika in Paris a try and loved it. It is the story of a curious filly named Paras, short for Perestroika, who slips out of her open stall one autumn afternoon after winning a race at Auteil Racecourse and ventures into Paris. She takes up residence in the Champs de Mars near the Eiffel Tower and makes friends with a stray German shorthair named ...more
Peter Tillman
Delightful light fantasy-adventure of a curious filly footloose in Paris, and her animal (and human) friends. Read the publisher's blurb first, which will get you up to speed. The animals can talk to each other, but not to the humans. If you are feeling low and a bit blue, this is the perfect pickup. Nothing bad happens, the animals are all sweethearts, the people are kind. And the storytelling is first-rate.

My favorite review here is Richard Seltzer's, https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
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Marjorie
Dec 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Such a delightful book and such a pleasure to read something so positive and uplifting. I'm passing it on to my 10-year-old grandson as it's a book for all ages. Most highly recommended. ...more
Susan
Dec 10, 2020 rated it liked it
I have been wanting this book since the minute I saw it advertised. I am a HUGE fan of Jane Smiley's Horse Heaven (10 stars), and she knows horses, and this premise sounded so delightful. I got hold of the book the MINUTE my library put it out (Dec 9). I'm sorry to say that I was disappointed in it. I was hoping for magic and charm and humor, and largely, it was missing. It was mechanical, the horse did this and then she did this and then the dog did this....At 1/3 I was feeling so disappointed ...more
Steven
Aug 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, arc-titles
ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

A marvelous, fantastical read, Perestroika in Paris needs to become an instant classic. This book has, by leaps and bounds, surpassed anything else I have read so far this year!

I've never read a Jane Smiley novel, but I am so glad I was able to get my hands on this one. A fun, magical, wholesome story about a very special bond between an old woman, a young boy, and the animals he befriends.

Perestroika - Paras, for s
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Candace
Jul 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Jane Smiley has a knack for expressing the feelings of animals, and "Perestroika in Paris" is a magical canter through Paris. It's not just the curious Perestroika, a filly living at a racetrack, but a dog, a raven, two ducks and a couple of handsome black rats who go along for the ride. Did I mention that Peres takes along a groom's purse as she leaves the stable? Her trainer, owner, and groom are all women and the filly has seen how they always carry these bags with them. This one turns out to ...more
Nichole
Feb 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Who knew a book about a dog, a raven, a horse and a rat named Kurt living in Paris would be my favorite of 2021 so far. It’s sweet, everyone lives happily ever after, the people are kind. It’s as if your favorite watercolor filled, fairy tale picture book came to life in the novel. Is it silly and unlikely? Yes. Is it soothing and warm like a hot tea and freshly baked croissants? Double yes.
Michelle Abramson
Dec 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A sweet tale by a great writer about a horse, a dog, a raven, and a child that takes place in Paris. What else do you need in times like these?
Deacon Tom F
Mar 29, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Spectacular

This was such a delightful book. In the spirit of “Animal Farm”, the animals themselves tell the tale. What wonderful characters they were.

Like a little boy, I enjoyed every syllable of this story.
Holly
Dec 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This novel was a lovely follow-up for fans of Smiley's previous Horse Heaven. This is a very different type of story, being told from the point of view of the non-human characters. Obviously this isn't for everyone; but we literary horse-girls are celebrating.

Who are the horse girls? You might remember one of us from childhood. We were the girls who didn't want to play with dolls or miniature kitchens, the objects of our nurturing instincts walked on four legs. We also weren't fond of playing ba
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Deepika
Aug 21, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In Jane Smiley's world, where the strays of Paris live, everyone is looking for the same thing -- connection. When they go on a quiet yet magical adventure, to build that bridge with another sentient being, to feel a sense of belonging and safety, Smiley's story unfolds, gently, with an intention that shines like gold and in prose that braids empathy with beauty.

Her story is a safe space; take any kind of judgement with you when you slip into her world, her characters and her impeccable world w
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Jenn
Aug 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
THIS WAS SO GOOD!!!
The Girl with the Sagittarius Tattoo
I was expecting warm-fuzzy; I wasn't expecting it to feel like a children's book. DNF @ 42%. ...more
Books I'm Not Reading
Dec 12, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: france, animals
I am still not really sure who Smiley is writing for with this novel. Surprisingly, I found myself the dog, Frida, the most interesting character in the book. I think this would be a book that really anyone could enjoy, as long as they can handle animals speaking to each other. It was a good, lighthearted book that I needed right now.
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Jane Smiley is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist.

Born in Los Angeles, California, Smiley grew up in Webster Groves, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis, and graduated from John Burroughs School. She obtained a A.B. at Vassar College, then earned a M.F.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. While working towards her doctorate, she also spent a year studying in Iceland as a Fulbright Scholar
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