A Paris Apartment
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|A Paris Apartment
By Michelle Gable
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press
Pub. Date: April 22, 2014
Genre: historical fiction
from the publisher for a
virtual book tour on France Book Tours
HAVE YOU READ YET MY
5-Eiffel Tower REVIEW?
So after my enthusiastic review, I’m delighted to interview the author of A Paris Apartment.
Michelle, I am delighted to have the opportunity to interview you. Thank you taking time to answer these questions.
1) First obvious question that I’m afraid you have received hundreds of times already:
how did you stumble upon that story? In the newspaper?
My agent sent me the article! It was October 2010. She’d been shopping a different manuscript of mine and though editors of several houses loved it, they thought it was too tough a market for a “debut author.”
Then my agent Barbara Poelle saw the article about the abandoned apartment
and said “I think you can do something with this.”
I immediately started researching and then, eventually, started writing!
I think it was Paris that got me over the “debut author” hump .
2) I felt so caught up in the story that I’m no longer sure where to see the line between fact and fiction,
which I consider a sign of an excellent historical novel!
I’m assuming you made up the content of Marthe’s letters, right?
Unless you did have access to them?
Thank you so much – that’s great to hear.
And you’re correct, I did make up her letters and diaries. In one of the photos, you can see a bookshelf in the lower left hand corner. It’s crammed with papers. I immediately decided these were journals and that informed the historical part of the novel. I did find the journals of another demimondaine.
Interestingly enough she went from courtesan, to princess, to nun! Her diaries inspired me in terms of what and who Marthe might’ve cared about, but Marthe’s (fictional) journals are far more ribald!
The other ones have a definite “I’m writing this as a nun” quality.
3) I happen to be reading right now In Search of Lost Time, vol.5 this week.
By now, I have started developing a love/hate relationship with Proust.
So I really had good laughs when seeing what Marthe had to say about Proust.
Should I presume you agree with her on Marcel? What made you express her distaste for the man and his work three times in your novel? Assuming once again the content of her letters is fiction.
During my research, I found out that Proust started as a gossip columnist, which was amusing as I tend to think of him as very highbrow. Reading the gossip pages from back then was very eye-opening—I think they were just as celebrity-obsessed as we are! I decided that Marthe would not like the things he wrote about her, hence the made-up distaste. When Marthe doesn’t like someone, it’s usually a defense mechanism. I don’t necessarily agree with her!
It’s funny that you ask this question (you’re the first!) because Proust has a bigger role in my latest novel. He was very good friends in real life with one of my characters. When he first laid eyes upon her, he decided that she was so beautiful he simply had to meet her. He chased her throughout Europe, then tried to have her arrested in Rome under the law that priceless works of art couldn’t leave the city. He wore a floor-length snakeskin gown to her wedding. How can you not love someone like him?
4) What prompted you to create the fictional connection with Victor Hugo? And so with Jeanne Daudet?
I’m not even sure! It’s one of those things that came to me while I was writing it. The connection was definitely not preplanned.
5) If you had tons of money to spare, which of Marthe’s piece of furniture or art would you have been ready to purchase at the auction? Why that one?
Well I love the ostrich! I also would’ve liked the Boldini itself.
6) Who is your favorite French writer of all times? Apart from Proust, Hugo, and Daudet, lol
Oh gosh, that’s a tough one. I’d probably have to say Émile Zola. Au Bonheur des Dames (“The Ladies’ Paradise) is my favorite. Georges Simenon’s Detective Maigret books are a lot of fun. Though I think he was technically Belgian. Most take place in Paris though.
7) What do you like most about La Belle Époque?
I loved that it was this era of enlightenment, advancement, joy…and gilt! The world was beautiful and the good times seemed as though they would never end. And, in Paris, you could overcome a few skeletons in your closet or a not-so-pedigreed name if you brought something intelligent to the discussions in the salons.
8) And about Paris today? Any out of the beaten path places you would recommend to a tourist going there for the first time?
I think, if it’s your first time, you have to hit the major things, versus those off the beaten path. Quaint neighborhood restaurants are always what I most look forward to and the Île Saint-Louis is my favorite neighborhood/area. I love that it retains its medieval charms.
9) I’m sure lots of readers of A Paris Apartment are looking forward to your next book? Will it also be set in France?
Thank you! There is a Parisian element, but mostly it takes place in Oxfordshire, England. I actually came up with the idea when studying every single portrait Boldini ever painted. I researched the people behind each one, and one particular woman popped out at me as having a very interesting background. Proust was her best friend after all!
WHAT IS IT ABOUT
THE NATIONAL BESTSELLER!
Bienvenue à Paris!
When April Vogt’s boss tells her about an apartment in the ninth arrondissement that has been discovered after being shuttered for the past seventy years, the Sotheby’s continental furniture specialist does not hear the words “dust” or “rats” or “decrepit.” She hears Paris. She hears escape.
Once in France, April quickly learns the apartment is not merely some rich hoarder’s repository. Beneath the cobwebs and stale perfumed air is a goldmine, and not because of the actual gold (or painted ostrich eggs or mounted rhinoceros horns or bronze bathtub). First, there’s a portrait by one of the masters of the Belle Epoque, Giovanni Boldini. And then there are letters and journals written by the very woman in the painting, Marthe de Florian. These documents reveal that she was more than a renowned courtesan with enviable decolletage. Suddenly April’s quest is no longer about the bureaux plats and Louis-style armchairs that will fetch millions at auction. It’s about discovering the story behind this charismatic woman.
It’s about discovering two women, actually.
With the help of a salty (and annoyingly sexy) Parisian solicitor and the courtesan’s private diaries, April tries to uncover the many secrets buried in the apartment. As she digs into Marthe’s life, April can’t help but take a deeper look into her own. Having left behind in the States a cheating husband, a family crisis about to erupt, and a career she’s been using as the crutch to simply get by, she feels compelled to sort out her own life too. When the things she left bubbling back home begin to boil over, and Parisian delicacies beyond flaky pâtisseries tempt her better judgment, April knows that both she and Marthe deserve happy finales.
Whether accompanied by croissants or champagne, this delectable debut novel depicts the Paris of the Belle Epoque and the present day with vibrant and stunning allure. Based on historical events, Michelle Gable’s A Paris Apartment will entertain and inspire, as readers embrace the struggles and successes of two very unforgettable women. [provided by the author]
PRAISE FOR A PARIS APARTMENT
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michelle Gable is a writer and also a mom,
wife, financial executive, sports-obsessed maniac (Go Chargers! Go Aztecs!),
Southern California native, barre class fiend, tennis player,
and card-carrying member of the Chickasaw Nation.
She grew up in sunny San Diego
and attended The College of William & Mary,
where she majored in accounting as most aspiring writers do.
Throughout a career that started in public accounting
and then moved to private equity, then investment banking,
and ultimately to the head of FP&A for a publicly-traded software company,
Michelle continued to write. And write and write.
Her first novel was released on April 22, 2014, her second scheduled for Spring 2016.
Michelle currently resides in Cardiff by the Sea, California, with her husband,
two daughters, and one lazy cat.
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