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Extended Audio Sample Paris Was the Place, by Susan Conley Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Susan Conley Narrator: Cassandra Campbell Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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From acclaimed author Susan Conley comes a novel that gives us a luminous emotional portrait of a young woman living abroad in Paris in the 1980s and trying to make sense of the chaotic world around her as she learns the true meaning of family.

When Willie Pears agrees to teach at a Parisian center for immigrant girls who have requested French asylum, she has no idea it will utterly change her life. She has lived in Paris for six months, surrounded by the most important people in her life: her beloved brother, Luke; her funny and wise college roommate, Sara; and Sara’s do-gooder husband, Rajiv. And now there is Macon Ventri, a passionate, dedicated attorney for the detained girls. Theirs is a meeting of both hearts and minds—but not without its problems. As Willie becomes more involved with the immigrant girls who touch her soul, the lines between teaching and mothering are blurred. She is especially drawn to Gita, a young Indian girl who is determined to be free. Ultimately, Willie will make a decision with potentially dire consequences to both her relationship with Macon and the future of the center. Meanwhile, Luke is taken with a serious, as-yet-unnamed illness, and Willie will come to understand the power of unconditional love while facing the dark days of his death.

Conley has written a piercing, deeply humane novel that explores the connections between family and friends and reaffirms the strength of the ties that bind. 

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Quotes & Awards

  • Paris Was the Place has the kind of emotional weight you hope for in a novel. Its world, by turns achingly beautiful and brutally unjust, is as vividly rendered as its characters, whose joys and struggles we embrace as our own.”

    Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize–winning author

  • “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, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Conley’s debut novel is a satisfying cassoulet of questions about home, comfort, and love, served with fresh perspective on a dazzling city.”

    People

  • “We travel through rich settings (India, France, the Sonoran desert) and are confronted with dramatic events.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Conley writes beautifully, compellingly, [and] with a directness and clarity that is moving without being maudlin…[She] also evokes a vivid sense of Paris…Captivating descriptions highlight the hallmarks and quirks of the various arrondissements and neighborhoods with a ‘you are here’ immediacy.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Tenderhearted, earnest, and sincere…The heart of the book is the interlocking love stories, between Willie and the almost-to-good-to-be-true Macon, as well as between sister and brother, daughter and mother, and Willie and her asylum-seeking student.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “With its Parisian setting (the author spares no details), Conley’s simple family story about a woman discovering her own strength will primarily appeal to fans of women’s fiction and Paris lovers alike.”

    Library Journal

  • “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

  • “In an affecting debut, Willow Pears learns not only to love, but also what matters when dealing with loss and problems that have no solution…The sympathetic storytelling and limpid first-person narration succeed in casting a spell.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • 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 and Love and Other Impossible Pursuits

  • Paris Was the Place, with its portrait of Paris in the ’80s and a narrator whose beloved brother is undone by AIDS, renders viscerally just how the personal becomes the political, and vice-versa: it’s beautifully eloquent on the shortfall we so keenly feel between the comfort and support we can offer loved ones and the comprehensive safety we wish we could provide. It 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 and Like You’d Understand, Anyway

  • “In Paris Was the Place Susan Conley has created a vivid portrait of a place and a person. As Willow falls in love, first with the girls she teaches at a detention center and then with the immigration lawyer charged with helping them, her life becomes increasingly complicated. The result is a suspenseful story, full of moral choices and deep feeling. Willow is an irresistible heroine.”

    Margot Livesey, author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy and The House on Fortune Street

  • Selected for the August 2013 Indie Next List
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About the Author

Susan Conley is the author of The Foremost Good Fortune, a book that won the Maine Literary Award for memoir and a Goodreads Choice Award. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Huffington Post, Daily Beast, Paris Review, Harvard Review, Massachusetts Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Portland, Maine, with her husband and their two sons.