Paras is a spirited young racehorse living in a stable in the French countryside. That is until one afternoon when she pushes open the gate of her stall and, travelling through the night, arrives quite by chance in the dazzling streets of Paris.
She soon meets a German shorthaired pointer named Frida, two irreressible ducks and an opinionated crow, and life among the animals in the city’s lush green spaces is enjoyable for a time. But everything changes when Paras meets a human boy, Etienne, and discovers a new, otherwordly part of Paris: the secluded, ivy-waller house where the boy and his nearly one-hundred-year-old-great-grandmother live quietly and keep to themselves. As the cold weather of Christmas nears, the unlikeliest of friendships blooms among these strays of Paris.
But how can a runaway horse live undiscovered in Paris? And how long can one boy keep her all to himself?
An interesting and original work of fiction, potentially a children’s story possibly but aimed at… I’m not sure, young adults, adults, children to be read to? Anyone really. It’s the story of Paras, inadvertently escaping her life as a racehorse and venturing into Paris.
The story is slow but sweet and endearing as this motley crew of animals, quite literally the strays of Paris find each other and form such unlikely friendships, putting aside, in some cases their pre conceived ideas and learning to trust and care. The initial friendship between Paras and Frida was touching and later when Paras moved on for a while, the loss for Frida was tangible, even though their friendship was quite new and small. For me this book really came into its own with the introduction of Etienne, the impact of a human and the support he gained from having these animals in his life.
Woven throughout the book were many tender moments, the trainer and owners feelings of loss and sadness about Paras, the people who noticed a horse, a dog and a boy in Paris, the grocer and the gardener, the baker who all took positive steps in relation to this lost group.
The book is whimsical and warm and while not a lot happened it provided some cherished escapism to a world where animals speak and share their observations of Parisian life. There was a real sense of looking after each other in this book from humans and animals and it made for a heart warming read. A modern day fairytale where they all live happily ever after.
Not a book I would usually read but the cover appealed to me so I jumped at the chance when offered a copy by the publisher. Many Thanks.
A book that just is, don’t pick this up expecting drama and excitement because it really isn’t that. A simple and tender tale of a small adventure in Paris, a story of making friends and surviving, of hiding and being seen, of loss and recovery. A book I enjoyed.
About the Author
Jane Smiley is the author of numerous novels, including A Thousand Acres, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, and most recently, the Last Hundred Years Trilogy: Some Luck, Early Warning and Golden Age. She is also the author of several works of nonfiction and books for young adults. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, she has also received the PEN Center USA Lifetime Achievement Award for Literature. She lives in northern California.