... what a design! George expertly crosscuts between various plots, coaxing [historical characters] closer and closer as evening draws on. The tinder has been set and the fire is lit as the action converges on a raucous cabaret in Montmartre. 'It’s not just objects that warp and disappear in the flames’ embrace,' it’s the characters’ notions of what they’re capable of doing, of what sort of people they’ve become in this combustible present.
The Paris Hours is a lovely and transportive piece of fiction, one that strikes a balance between the notorious glamour and everyday quietude of 1920s Paris. There’s a richness to the setting that captures the mind’s eye, showing us the glitter and the grime with equal aplomb. Intricately plotted, the book finds ways to build its characters’ interconnectedness with descriptive delicacy. Each of these individual storylines unfolds on its own; none of them actively require the presence of the others to function as fully formed, but the devil is in the details—George incorporates tiny cross-narrative signifiers that unobtrusively serve as connective tissue to guide these characters toward one another, all building to a final heartbreaking collision. Oh, the characters. Each of these four main players is a fully and beautifully realized person, complicated and flawed and fascinating ... the kind of book that almost demands to be devoured; it’s hard to avoid being swept away by the journeys undertaken by each of these regular, yet remarkable people. Evocative and smartly-paced, driven by character and historicity, it’s a fantastic read.
An artist, a writer, a puppeteer, and an author's intimate—the stories of these characters move back and forth in a beautiful dance. And how they come together in the final movement is très belle! ... George has captured the ethos of 1920s Paris with a feel similar to Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See. This title is not to be missed.
Jazz Age Paris continues to fascinate, and George taps into that wellspring of interest with this enchanting historical novel .. As these four walk the sumptuously evoked streets, George cleverly brings their stories together in a stunning finale that should feel contrived but somehow doesn’t. Or maybe we just don’t care because the novel has put us under the spell of the City of Light yet again.
... engrossing ... By evoking fictional characters and historical figures with equal vividness and wisely using repeated motifs (a Ravel piece, a prostitute, a club, a painting), George unites his narratives in a surprising yet wholly convincing denouement. Elegant and evocative, this will have special appeal for lovers of Paris and fans of Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife.
Despite some striking moments...other encounters feel forced. Likewise, in George’s aim to get his four protagonists to the climax in a Montmartre jazz club, the loose connections he creates among them seem at times like heavy-handed contrivances. And despite the vividness of the stories being told, their power is undermined by the flatness of the character development. Still, the ambiguous ending will provide discussion fodder for reading groups. Despite its flaws, George’s Proustian homage to a lost time will be a Francophile’s madeleine.