One of my favorite things about books is their magic to transport the reader to distant lands. Or, in this case, the magical City of Lights. Paris holds a sense of wonder in both history and in literature. So, if you’ve always been in love with the Eiffel Tower, Versailles, the champs-élysées, and the Louvre then you’ll love these great reads. Here are five books that will take you to Paris for less than the cost of a plane ticket!
Book Destinations: 5 Books That Will Fly You to Paris
You may know the famous American poet, Elizabeth Bishop, but you don’t know her like this. PARIS, 7AM explores the only year of her life that Bishop didn’t meticulously chronicle in this historical fiction novel. In 1937, Elizabeth arrives in Paris with her college roommates in an attempt to escape the stifling life of Vassar college and find true inspiration. However, on the brink of WWII, the world is changing. Soon Elizabeth finds herself on a life-changing journey through the underground rebellion. This novel is pure poetry, as any book about Elizabeth Bishop should be. Liza Wieland paints a beautiful portrait of Paris that pulls the reader in close and wraps them into the sights and smells as they follow Elizabeth’s journey.
“A marvel of lost innocence” (O, The Oprah Magazine) that reimagines three life-changing weeks poet Elizabeth Bishop spent in Paris amidst the imminent threat of World War II.
June 1937. Elizabeth Bishop, still only a young woman and not yet one of the most influential poets of the 20th century, arrives in France with her college roommates. They are in search of an escape, and inspiration, far from the protective world of Vassar College where they were expected to find an impressive husband and a quiet life. But the world is changing, and as they explore the City of Lights, the larger threats of fascism and occupation are looming. There, they meet a community of upper-crust expatriates who not only bring them along on a life-changing adventure, but also into an underground world of rebellion that will quietly alter the course of Elizabeth’s life forever.
Sweeping and stirring, Paris, 7 A.M. imagines 1937—the only year Elizabeth, a meticulous keeper of journals—didn’t fully chronicle—in vivid detail and brings us from Paris to Normandy where Elizabeth becomes involved with a group rescuing Jewish “orphans” and delivering them to convents where they will be baptized as Catholics and saved from the impending horror their parents will face.
Both poignant and captivating, Paris, 7 A.M. is an “achingly introspective marvel of lost innocence” (O, The Oprah Magazine) and a beautifully rendered take on the formative years of one of America’s most celebrated female poets.
Room on Rue Amelie is another sweeping WWII historical fiction novel set in Paris. This is a novel about courage masterfully woven with the historical drama of the time. Harmel tells this story through the perspective of a young newlywed American woman, a British RAF pilot, and a teenage Jewish girl all living in Paris. This book truly is a romance novel that will have you falling in love with both France and its characters.
Good things can happen to good people and this charming Parisian love story proves it. The Red Notebook follows a lovely bookseller named Laurent when he comes across an abandoned purse on a street in Paris. While there’s no name to indicate who the bag belongs too, but there is a little red notebook full of scribblings. After peaking through this journal, Laurent is determined to find its owner. This book is gentle and full of humor as Laurent searches for this mysterious owner. Antoine Laurain, a native Parisian, captures the magic and the charm of this city in this short and sweet romance.
It’s only fitting that this would be yet another Paris love story. However, The Betrayal by Kate Furnivall is a tale of sisterly love, deep secrets, and the shadow of war. This story follows twin sisters, one an aviatrix and the other a socialite, in 1938 Paris. Both women have something to prove and something to hide in this deeply atmospheric novel that truly transports the reader into the middle of this captivating city.
*** THE TOP TEN BESTSELLER ***
'Superb storytelling – this intricate web of secrets and lies kept me guessing until the very end' Dinah Jefferies
Discover a brilliant story of love, danger, courage and betrayal, from the internationally bestselling author of The Liberation.
Could you kill someone? Someone you love?
Paris, 1938. Twin sisters are divided by fierce loyalties and by a terrible secret. The drums of war are beating and France is poised, ready to fall. One sister is an aviatrix, the other is a socialite and they both have something to prove and something to hide.
The Betrayal is an unforgettably powerful, epic story of love, loss and the long shadow of war, perfect for readers of Santa Montefiore and Victoria Hislop.
'A real page-turner which puts you in France on the cusp of war from the very first page. Gripping. Tense. Mysterious. Kate Furnivall has a talent for creating places and characters who stay with you long after you’ve read the final word' Jane Corry
'Exquisitely heart-wrenching & utterly engrossing. The Betrayal is an absolute gem' Penny Parkes
'A thrilling, compelling read. Wonderful!' Lesley Pearse
Further praise for Kate Furnivall:
‘Wonderful . . . hugely ambitious and atmospheric’ Kate Mosse
‘A thrilling plot … Fast-paced with a sinister edge’ Times
‘Gripping . . . poignant, beautifully written …will capture the reader to the last’ Sun
‘Truly captivating’ Elle
‘Perfect escapist reading’ Marie Claire
‘An achingly beautiful epic’ New Woman
‘A rollicking good read’ Daily Telegraph
This moving story is set in an elegant apartment building in the center of Paris. The Elegance of the Hedgehog at Night follows the nearly invisible concierge, Renee, who judges the bougie occupants and has a deep fascination with art, music, and Japanese culture. This novel also follows 12-year-old Paloma who lives on the fifth floor. Both Renee and Paloma hide who they really are from the rest of the world and are brought together by the new wealthy Japanese tenant. Barbery explores the more intimate parts of these Parisians’ lives with magnetic voices that make the reader really feels as if they truly live in this Paris apartment building.
“The novel contains all the hallmarks of a modern French classic: quirky characters prone to fatalistic philosophical musings, action set against the florid backdrop of a ritzy hôtel particulier in bourgeois Paris, vivid voyeuristic depictions of the residents’ interior lives—and just a touch of playful pretention.”