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Paris Requiem (Belle Epoque #1)

3.31  ·  Rating details ·  177 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
Paris, 1899.

The city is electric with excitement. Preparations for the universal exhibition and the dawn of a new century have hit fever pitch. But the sensual spectacle of the belle epoque is overshadowed by racial and social tensions, as the Dreyfus affair unleashes a riotous surge of anti-semitism into its midst.

Enter James Norton, an American charged with bringing hom
Paperback, UK edition, 506 pages
Published August 29th 2013 by Arcadia Books (first published January 1st 2001)
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Jun 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
During finals time, my undergraduate neighbor stopped by to have tea and to share her frustration with one of her term papers for art history. She was supposed to write on milliners as erotic subjects in belle epoque painting and could not find any sources. I remembered that years ago, I had read a novel that had described the odd sexual climate in Paris at the turn of the century. A quarter of the women in Paris had at some point engaged in casual prostitution and the authorities were so worrie ...more
Michelle Lancaster
Dec 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
By Lisa Appignanesi
Arcadia Books, 506 pgs
Submitted by the publisher
Rating: Spectacular

Three ideas to consider:

"Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité" - and what of Justice?

"Live as domestic a life as possible...And never touch pen, brush, or pencil as long as you live." Charlotte Perkins Gilman describing Dr. S. Weir Mitchell's rest cure prescription

"Too early a death implicates us all." - Marguerite de Landois

Paris Requiem by Lisa Appignanesi is a thrilling and intoxicating blend of h
Jan 13, 2015 rated it it was ok
I was extremely disapponited in this book. An interesting beginning turns into a neverending bore. The Paris depicted is false, untrue, like known only from books.
The author has good academic knowledge of her subject and feels compelled to jam everything in the novel, even forcing action to do so.
When we have read about 50% of the story, we know “whodunnit” and we expect -in vain- some interesting developments.
The fact that James is allowed to investigate with the French detective, defies belie
Mary G.
Aug 29, 2010 rated it liked it
It was good with an interesting ending.
This book sounded like it was written for me: fin de siecle Paris, the Dreyfus Affair, political unrest, women struggling against oppression and restrictions--all things that interest me--with a boatload of Henry James references thrown in for good measure. But it bored me out of my mind. I got halfway through and I just couldn't come up with a good enough reason to keep going. Maybe a good rigorous editor could have tightened up the structure and cleaned up the clunky sentences and wooden dialo ...more
Gave up on page 45.
Victoria Miller
Jun 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Set in Paris prior to the Exposition Universelle of 1889, during the turmoil of Dreyfus Affair*, this well researched yet fictional suspense novel exposes a harsh underbelly of The City of Love as two brothers, a reporter and an attorney, search for answers to the unlikely seeming suicide of the reporter's fiancee. An ambitious challenge for a work of fiction, this book takes on women's rights (certainly showing what a profound need for these there has been and is for those), as well as exposing ...more
Janine Cobain
Jul 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
Had you asked me a few weeks ago if I had been to Paris, I would have answered truthfully with no, however after reading this glorious novel I feel I could answer, just as honestly with ‘Yes, I was there just before 1900’. Such is the richness of the text within these pages that you are immersed in the city, you follow the Norton Brothers’ through the sometimes seedy streets, meeting the colourful characters who are their family, friends and foe.
The story takes you on a twisted path, weaving sus
Pooja Shah
Feb 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Based on a lot of research, Lisa Appignanesi's 'Paris Requiem' is a solid and carefully crafted fictional murder mystery that explores a family’s story, hidden secrets, Jewish people in France, crimes, political scandals and the search for the truth.

James Norton, a lawyer from Bostan, heads to Paris on his mother's command to bring his invalid sister, Ellie and his younger brother, Raf back home. Once in Paris, James finds himself on another mission. The mission to find the investigate the mysti
Christopher Hivner
May 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Paris Requiem is a superbly well-written psychological mystery set in Paris in 1899. The author uses the politics and social ills of the time period as a backdrop for her story. James Norton is sent from Boston to Paris by his mother to bring home his wayward brother Raphael and sister Ellie. When he arrives however, Raphael's lover, a Jewish actress has died under mysteriosu circumstances and the sister, Ellie, is ill, unable to leave her room. James helps his brother investigate what really ha ...more
Feb 05, 2014 rated it liked it
Set in Paris in 1889 this is a dark, gritty and gothic style mystery.

From the very first paragraph we are thrust into the dirty, gritty, raw side of the city -

“Paris sizzled with the spectres of past and future danger. The Gare Saint-Lazare was a hellhole. The air burned. Engines hissed. smoke billowed. Whistles shrieked. Trains clanged and clattered like weary mechanical beasts. Everywhere was heat and noise and the crush of humanity.”

It is a superbly well-written psychological mystery with the
Maryline M's Bookshelf
I'll start by quoting Sarah Dunant "Master story telling from a mistress of fiction".

This was an incredible book. From the very beginning Lisa Appignanesi brings Paris anno 1899 to live in such a brilliant way you feel like you've been there, like you were actually there the moment it all happened. The amount of detail and study that went into this story is just mind blowing.

When James Norton starts his personal investigation he's determined to "solve the case" and to take his brother and siste
Mar 12, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
This was an interesting book by a woman from Montreal. It is about fin-de-siecle Paris. Boston lawyer James Norton has been sent by his mother to bring home his invalid sister Ellie and his journalist brother Raf. Raf is writing about the Drefus Affair and is involved in leftist politis. Raf and Ellie's friend Olympe and her sister Judith are both violently killed and the brothers set to try to find the killers and how they died. The sisters are Jewish and there is a lot of anti-semitism in Pari ...more
Jan 17, 2013 rated it liked it
I like the concept a lot, I think the writing was better than average, and I love the history woven in - it's a fascinating city in an important time period. My complaint stems from the actual plot line - I think she had a so many good/interesting ideas that the attempt to incorporate them all effectively fell a bit short. The hysteria, mental asylums as institutions, the prostitution, the familial deaths, the anti-semitism, political corruption - those are all fascinating topics, each of which ...more
Brittany Wouters

I recently read a fictional account of the James siblings, and it was as atrocious as this. The James siblings have appeared in fiction as contorted caricatures of themselves, and often their presumed incestuous relationships are heavily played up. Well, while it worked in the former book, it failed to work here.
What I couldn't work out was if Ellie wanted both the girl and her brother...
Atrocious ending- confessed in her diary? Pffffft.
And also...WTF?
Jan 30, 2014 rated it it was ok
Ay yi yi! I had high hopes for this book but it just bored me rigid! Every time I started reading it I fell asleep. It was hard work- I finished it but wonder why I bothered.
I think it was more the style than the content that I really struggled with. The author has written many academic books & I don't think she really knows how to "dumb down" to write in an engaging, fictional way.
Nov 27, 2010 rated it liked it
Although it is probably a good representation of Paris at the turn of the century (1899), it went a bit too far with dramatic visualization. I'll read one more of Ms Appignanesi's books before I determine how much more to take--just because I've already got one in the wings. I like period fiction, but I need for the story to take on more than the time of life.
Jul 17, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery-crime
James Norton, a young attorney from Boston has been sent by his domineering mother to Paris, where his newsman brother and ailing sister are living as ex-pats and he is to make them return home. So-so mystery.
Jul 23, 2015 rated it liked it
Ok, but not fantastic, a few of the amazing revelations were fairly heavily telegraphed before they arrived, such as Margeruite dressing as a man and Ellie being involved in the case. Overall it needed to be less obvious where the story was going.
Dec 11, 2011 rated it liked it
If you like Caleb Carr's Alienist, this book is for you. Several murders in Victorian England with two brothers and an invalid sister working to solve the mystery. Depicts Victorian England fairly accurately, although sparsely. Characters are well drawn. An enjoyable read.
Jan 24, 2017 added it
Excellent, from start to finish it had me gripped.
I like period pieces, but this one is rather weak. I won't pick up another mystery by this writer.
Aug 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Entertaining read that captures Paris in 1899.
May 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
This dense mystery set in Paris during the Dreyfus Affair suffers from its first person narration. It is overly long, but worth the time. The book reminds me of Henning Mankell's Shadow Girls.
Wendy Payne
Sep 13, 2016 rated it liked it
The 'who done it?" aspect of this book kept me reading. I found it a bit too long. I enjoyed the setting having visited Paris recently and recognized places I visited
Sep 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
Just happened to pick this up one day and was happy I did. It's a mystery told in Paris during the 1800's. Great historical references. Like a French "The Alienist".
Jul 31, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: own
First one I've read of this author and I enjoyed the historical setting. I would read more of hers.
Dec 13, 2015 rated it it was ok
Murder mystery set in a Gothic fashion in late 19th century Paris. Fairly mundane read, except for underlying elements of Romanticism.
Feb 10, 2014 rated it liked it
It was well written. However, I found it dragged on until around pg 300. Good character development but took to long getting to the end.
Sep 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
Somewhere between a two and a three.
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aka Jessica Ayre

Elżbieta Borensztejn was born on 4 January 1946 in Łódź, Poland, the daughter of Hena and Aaron Borensztejn with Jewish origin. Following her birth, her parents moved to Paris, France, and in 1951 they emigrating to Canada. She grew up in the province of Quebec - first in a small Laurentian town, subsequently in Montreal.

She graduated from McGill University with a B.A. degree in 19
More about Lisa Appignanesi...

Other Books in the Series

Belle Epoque (2 books)
  • Unholy Loves

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