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The Woman in the Fifth

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3.29  ·  Rating details ·  3,034 ratings  ·  353 reviews
Douglas Kennedy’s new novel demonstrates once again his talent for writing serious popular fiction. The Pursuit of Happiness and A Special Relationship were both Sunday Times bestsellers in paperback.

That was the year my life fell apart, and that was the year I moved to Paris.

When Harry Ricks arrives in Paris on a bleak January morning he is a broken man. He is running
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Hardcover, 432 pages
Published July 24th 2007 by Hutchinson (first published April 18th 2007)
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Average rating 3.29  · 
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 ·  3,034 ratings  ·  353 reviews


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Jeffrey Keeten
May 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-to-film
”I wanted to get it all down on paper; a record of what happened----just in case something did happen to me---- and to try and convince myself that I was not living in a state of permanent delusion. But why should you accept this story as given? It’s just a story----my story. And like all stories, it isn’t, in the pure sense of the word, true. It’s just my version of the truth. Which means it is----and isn’t----true at all.”

 photo dbd0d4d9-438e-436f-a853-5a320f71e2f3_zps45d5df4c.png
Ethan Hawke and Kristin Scott Thomas, two actors I enjoyed watching
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Natalie
Nov 26, 2013 rated it liked it
I was quite enjoying this one, before I knew what was going on and it was all suspenseful and mysterious, and then it was revealed (I'll not say, spoilers!!) and it went rapidly downhill, got very far-fetched, and I have to say, I pretty much lost all interest, as it was just too annoying!
zespri
May 16, 2011 rated it it was ok
Two stars.

One because I have just been to Paris and loved all the references to places that are so fresh in my memory, I loved the feeling of recognition in the book.

The other star? Because it was actually compelling reading and kept me amused on the long trip home. An easy read, nothing complicated.

Did not like the sudden change of genre when the supernatural element was introduced, and the ending.....well it wasn't an ending for me. I wondered how the author would wind up his scenario, and
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juice
Jun 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: recommended
This is well written. Really well written. Books are about people, and relationships, and this lets you inside.

The quality of the writing is a five, but the weak ending lost it a star.
Mummy Loves Books
Jun 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
I am almost relieved to read the other reviews on this site of Douglas Kennedy's latest novel - I wondered if it was just me who found the ending to this book rather pointless and bizarre.
I have read lots of Douglas Kennedy's novels and loved them all, as others on this site state they are always really insightful, show a great depth of understanding of his characters and always follow a really strong storyline. I was really excited to begin The Woman In The Fifth, the dust jacket of the book
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Greg McClay
Oct 06, 2010 rated it it was ok
A ghost story that is uncreepy and/or unfunny is usually going to be uninteresting. It might have been more creepy if I had known it was supposed to be a ghost story from the getgo but otherwise its not even really hinted at until late in the book. There's some note of it in the cover flaps but I don't always read those and didn't this time.

I'll give the book high marks in that if you and your friends have read it offers a lot of bar fodder for "what ifs" and "what would you do?"

Lowest marks
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Margi
Aug 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I couldn't put this book down. It had a great mix of love, lust, suspense and a bit of personal drama thrown into the mix. I had no idea where this book was going to take me when I starte, as it began with a man moving to Paris to rebuild his life after a broken marriage and lost job. Blah, blah blah and so the fabulous story begins.I found this book was very well written, a really well paced novel and the 2 main characters were excellently and believably portrayed. I highly recommend this.
Ingrid
Jan 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a story. Completely different from what I expected, but I enjoyed reading it.
J.M. Cornwell
Aug 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Haunting and violent tale of lust and loss.

When your wife and your boss, who have been carrying on an affair, conspire to destroy your career, a flirtation begins and ends in scandal, your daughter despises you and will not see you, and reporters hound you no matter where you are, what do you do? Fly to Paris and start over.

Harry Ricks arrived in Paris, checked into a hotel, immediately became ill, and spent the next ten days with a mercenary hotel manager who fleeced him for everything,
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Lorraine
Apr 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
F.R.
Dec 01, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A friend of mine leant me this and I would never have picked it up by myself (judging a book by its cover and all that) but I actually really enjoyed it.

An American who is lost in life finds himself in Paris, living in poverty and working in the miserable job of an illegal immigrant (the book is very sharp on the squalor of those shadowy workers.) At a party he meets an older lady and enters into a curious romantic arrangement with her. But then an acquantance dies, and everything is turned on
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Erin
Jan 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an addictive read. The writing isn't anything eloquent, almost Hemingway-esque in its clipped simplicity ("There was a hallway. It was white. There were chairs. I sat down." kind of thing) but zipped along. This was definitely not the glossy and sweet version of Paris, but rather a grungy, depressing, dark version in the margins. Like "Down and Out" mixed with a little Law and Order and some magical elements that surprised me.

I finished it just as I was coming down with the flu, which was
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Mary Snaddon
Aug 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
I am a huge Douglas Kennedy fan. Having read the reviews on this book, one stating "If you loved 'In Pursuit of Happiness' you will hate this," I approached this with a feeling I might not like it. How wrong! I totally loved this. I didn't expect the direction it took, very dark and compelling reading. Far fetched? Or perhaps possible? The Woman in the Fifth will stay with me, while other woman fade into oblivion. If you are a DK fan, please don't be put off by the many negative reviews. Try it ...more
Laura
Jan 24, 2009 rated it it was ok
Being a fan of Douglas Kennedy I expected great things from this but was disappointed. The book began brilliantly and I loved the portrayal of Paris but, as soon as the supernatural element was introduced I felt that Kennedy went too far off piste. His ability to create a sense of time and space is extraordinary but he never got to grips with the horror/suspense element. The story lost credibility at the end
Mike
Dec 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: abandoned
This started off well, with its neurotic hero being in situations that had an air of danger about them, and other people were either dying unexpectedly or being seriously injured…and then the woman arrived in the story and the whole thing went into this odd philosophic conversation stuff between bouts of having sex which turned the pace that had been set to sludge.
I know some reviewers on here loved it to bits, but there were a number saying that the thing seemed to veer off course; apparently
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Pien
The cover, the title, the description on the back... Nothing prepared me for the rough, modern time, how to f* up your life story.
I expected something Victorian, romantic, dark...
The beginning of the end was interesting. But what a long way to get there.

Two stars.
Eslin Hansma
Jul 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I liked this book very much, although i'm still a little mindfucked after finishing it.
Kayleigh
Ohhh, I adored this. I adored this. Douglas Kennedy simply never lets me down. The quality of the writing here was just stunning. Anytime I pick up a book written by this guy, I am always completely blown away by it and this was definitely the case here.
I have come away from this book feeling like I have learned basic French...and it was difficult from time to time to wrap my mind around all of that pronunciation. I probably did a horrible job so I am glad I was reading this in my head. My
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Roderick Hart
Apr 19, 2013 rated it it was ok
Harry Ricks leaves behind serious problems in his domestic and professional life in the United States by going to Paris. There he meets a woman by the name of Margit Kadar, to whom he turns for solace. Over a period of weeks she learns about him, including how badly certain people have treated him, including his ex-wife and her new partner.

He is not being treated at all well by certain people in Paris either, and Harry becomes suspicious when these people start to suffer serious fates, including
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Ann
Oct 03, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
*** Three stars for the first 3/4 of the book; * one star for the ending:
I was lucky to win this from a Goodreads/Atria Books giveaway. I've read another book by this author and own two others by him -- I liked him so much after reading one book, I picked up the other two at the Borders going-out-of-business-sale. I had high hopes for this book and they were met for the first 3/4 of the book. The plot was interesting, the characters were dark, creepy, mysterious, likable and hatable. I couldn't
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The Cats’ Mother
Unusual story about an American college professor whose life has gone horribly wrong, so he escapes to Paris. Various disasters befall him and he finds himself living in an immigrants bedsit and working as a night watchman for some very shady characters. He thinks that things are looking up when he meets Margrit, an older Hungarian woman, and they begin an affair, but her dark past comes to influence events.
It's hard to say more without giving away the plot; I found the cover image quite
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Marleen
Nov 07, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommended to Marleen by: Dilbeek Library
It's weird how you can enjoy the first half of a story and then the second half turns out to be more disappointing. Indeed, the first part of this story appealed to me: how the character arrives in Paris and describes his struggles and living conditions and the people he encounters. I have been in Paris a few times (I live in Belgium, which is only 300 km from the French capital...). The Parisian atmosphere depicted in the book felt very real to me.
Overall I'm mitigated about the book because
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Caroline
Sep 15, 2016 rated it liked it
When I took hold of this book at first, the cover of the book gave me the impression that it was going to be some sort of an old romantic story line. I was not in the mood for that until I read the review by The Times that it was a thriller for people who didn't like thriller and a romance for people who didn't like romance. It turned out to be true. For someone learning French it will be exciting to encounter "les petits mots en français" and the street names of Paris. The story is interesting ...more
Lisa
Jul 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
A relatively complex storyline set in the Latin Quarter of Paris. The author has a good knowledge of the city although I noticed a couple of errors which anyone who knows the area would pick up. This was my only gripe - it's fast-paced, clever, extraordinary and thought-provoking.....in that you have to suspend belief to a point. Highly recommended to anyone who likes a thriller, and more so to anyone who has ever spent quality time in Paris.
There have been a number of harsh reviews but I am
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Anna
Don't know what to say about this. I enjoyed it hugely while I was reading but the end was a huge disappointment. I'm not going to spoil it by saying how it ends, but I felt I'd been miss-sold... that I'd started out in one genre and ended up in another without any warning.
Worth reading for the fab range of mad characters and the way Harry's life spirals down the plughole. Can't begin to think how many stars though - if any!
Nora
Jul 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't usually read thrillers, but I couldn't put this one down and, after reluctantly finishing it, ordered 4 more of his. The main character is a beleaguered ex-college professor, down on his luck in Paris--a fun read for me as I bought it in the train station at the Garde du Nord as we were leaving Paris. However, I bought all of his other novels after reading this one and every one was a dud--predictable, formulaic and not worth reading.
Kausar Azam
Jan 29, 2016 rated it did not like it
One of those rare 1-star reads that I manage to finish because it is *at least* written in a way that encourages me to complete the story for the sake of it. Not a fan of the book mostly for subjective reasons. Also, I wish I had known how graphic this was before I ventured on to reading it, because otherwise I wouldn't have.
Maryse
Dec 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Really didn't expect the twist in the plot concerning the 'woman in the fifth'. This got me wanting to read more and more. Really liked the book although would have liked a more 'happy ever after' ending. I also felt sorry for the male character as I imagine he would feel trapped for the rest of his life.
Judith Hamery
Aug 28, 2007 rated it did not like it
Shelves: summerreading
Unconvincing plot, poorly written, and overall not worth the time it takes to turn the pages. Maybe because I am familiar with Paris the whole novel had the feel of a cardboard stage set, and the people were dull. Sorry to any Kennedy fans: I did give him another chance and read a second one...hoping.
Robin Nicholas
Aug 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
I love this author. This is one of those books that had interesting characters and a plot that you could not predict. It did take me a little longer to get into than I usually give a book, but it was worth it.
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Fiction Fanatics: April 2014 - The Woman in the Fifth 2 19 Apr 24, 2014 02:20PM  

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Douglas Kennedy was born in Manhattan in 1955. He studied at Bowdoin College, Maine and Trinity College, Dublin, returning to Dublin in 1977 with just a trenchcoat, backpack and $300. He co-founded a theatre company and sold his first play, Shakespeare on Five Dollars a Day, to Radio 4 in 1980. In 1988 he moved to London and published a travel book, Beyond the Pyramids. His debut novel The Dead ...more
“All our stories are simultaneously unique and desperately similar, aren't they?” 11 likes
“There is much to be said for solitude.” 10 likes
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