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When Willie Pears arrives in Paris, she’s looking for adventure and to reconnect with her brother, Luke. Even so, when she takes a job teaching at a center for immigrant girls who are all hoping for French asylum, she does not expect to feel so connected to the ups and downs of their lives—or to find romance with their attractive and committed lawyer, Macon. But as Willie learns the girls’ histories, the lines between teaching and mothering quickly begin to blur, leading her to make a risky move that will threaten to upend the life and relationships she’s found.
“A satisfying cassoulet of questions about home, comfort and love, served with a fresh perspective on a dazzling city.” —People
“Exquisite. . . . A story about hope, love, family, forgiveness, expectation, risk, loss, and letting go.” —The Boston Globe, “Pick of the Week”
“Susan Conley’s Paris Was the Place has the kind of emotional weight you hope for in a novel. . . . Achingly beautiful.” —Richard Russo
“Deeply felt.” —Elle
“Sensual and seductive, Paris Was the Place pulls you in and doesn’t let you go. Find your nearest chair and start reading.” —Lily King
“Susan Conley's deft, moving novel is a beautiful love song, as much to Paris as to that tipping point in life when love and loss combine and perhaps, for the first time, both heartbroken and thrilled, you feel acutely what it means to be fully human and alive.” —Sarah Blake, author of The Postmistress
“Reminds us that it is impossible to separate what is hideous from what is lovely in our everyday lives.” —The Portland Phoenix
“Conley’s debut novel zips its readers to the Paris of the 1980s. . . . At its heart the story explores the ties between family and friends, but also delights around the edges with descriptions of a sky ‘flanged lilac,’ dove gray apartments buildings, cafes with awnings, and crepes with lemon and butter and sugar.”—Reader’s Digest
“Paris Was the Place is a gorgeous love story and a wise, intimate journal of dislocation that examines how far we'll go for the people we love most. I couldn’t put it down.” —Ayelet Waldman, author of Red Hook Road
“Much more than a love story. . . . The brief flashbacks are so vivid you would swear the author went through that primal experience.” —The Stamford Advocate
“Deftly exploring the complexities of friendship, family, and commitment, Conley adroitly demonstrates her infectious passion for Paris through an extensive and intimate portrait of the inner workings concealed behind its seductive façade.” —Booklist
“A suspenseful story, full of moral choices and deep feeling. Willow is an irresistible heroine.” —Margot Livesey, author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy
“[Paris Was the Place] reminds us through the openheartedness of its compassion of the infinity of ways in which doing what we can for others might represent the best we can do in terms of saving ourselves.” —Jim Shepard, author of You Think That’s Bad
“An affecting debut.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Smart and compulsively readable, Paris Was the Place is a bittersweet meditation on responsibility and family, and on the power of words to save us.” —Maryanne O’Hara, author of Cascade
“Tenderhearted, earnest, and sincere.” —Publishers Weekly
“A heartrending and deeply hopeful novel. . . . [Conley’s] immigrant girls are tenderly drawn, full of pathos. One feels a need get to close to them, to provide some comfort, to find some way to fix this broken system and this brutal world. Thankfully, Willie Pears—Conley’s big-hearted, clear-eyed narrator—is there.” —Sarah Braunstein, author of The Sweet Relief of Missing Children