Michelle Gable’s A Paris Apartment is a bestseller and the setup was intriguing enough to make me buy the book. Alice, a professional antique dealer, heads for a Paris apartment that hasn’t been open for seventy years. Such a premise, based on the actual discovery of such an apartment, promises aging secrets, great mystery, and the appeal of historical fiction. Most of Gable’s many reviewers found the book an engrossing read, and I’d love to hear from them, for I am one of the disappointed.
What Alice finds in addition to the treasure trove of antiques she expects is a portrait of a Nineteenth Century woman and a dealer who doesn’t want her to explore further. However, Alice discovers bundles of diaries and persists. The story then becomes parallel stories of Alice and Marthe who became the mistress of the famous.
The apartment itself becomes very real and alive with the past, but unfortunately, I tired of Alice, a perpetually rushing, venting, drinking young professional. If reader’s found any depth of character here, I missed it. A great deal of time is spent on Alice’s expertise in art history, but for me it takes too long for this to become integrated into the plot. The second story, Marthe’s, has the fascination of another time, and Marthe’s desperation is very real, but I read enough to predict that her diaries will deal largely with the sexual lives of the rich and famous and the Alice’s story will end in an affair or so also. I hope someone will tell me I’m wrong and to give the stories—and Alice—another chance.