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Perestroika in Paris: A novel (Paperback)
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NATIONAL BESTSELLER • From the Pulitzer Prize-winning and best-selling author: a captivating, brilliantly imaginative story of three extraordinary animals—and a young boy—whose lives intersect in Paris in this "feel-good escape” (The New York Times).
Paras, short for "Perestroika," is a spirited racehorse at a racetrack west of Paris. One afternoon at dusk, she finds the door of her stall open and—she's a curious filly—wanders all the way to the City of Light. She's dazzled and often mystified by the sights, sounds, and smells around her, but she isn't afraid.
Soon she meets an elegant dog, a German shorthaired pointer named Frida, who knows how to get by without attracting the attention of suspicious Parisians. Paras and Frida coexist for a time in the city's lush green spaces, nourished by Frida's strategic trips to the vegetable market. They keep company with two irrepressible ducks and an opinionated raven. But then Paras meets a human boy, Etienne, and discovers a new, otherworldly part of Paris: the ivy-walled house where the boy and his nearly-one-hundred-year-old great-grandmother live in seclusion.
As the cold weather nears, the unlikeliest of friendships bloom. But how long can a runaway horse stay undiscovered in Paris? How long can a boy keep her hidden and all to himself? Jane Smiley's beguiling new novel is itself an adventure that celebrates curiosity, ingenuity, and the desire of all creatures for true love and freedom.
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 received the PEN Center USA Lifetime Achievement Award for Literature. She lives in Northern California.
“A sparkling screwball-comedy treat . . . If ever there were a year when we could use some light relief, 2020 is it. Perestroika in Paris couldn’t have come at a better time . . . It’s hard to imagine anyone not enjoying this wistful charmer of a book.” —Seattle Times
“Sprightly, fun . . . A lighthearted spree of a novel . . . Here Smiley stretches her talents even further.” —Washington Post
“Wholesomely timeless, full of good intentions and happy endings that feel far removed from the problems of the moment.” —Wall Street Journal
“A cozy, fairy-tale trot through the City of Light . . . Delightful, heartwarming . . . An appealing balm for harsh times . . . It’s such a joy when an author whose work you’ve been reading for decades surprises you with something unexpected . . . An especially welcome reminder of the bright spots even in dark times.” —NPR.org
“In an era beset by polarization and even violent tribalism, it feels like a gift to find a novel in which characters of different species—with different desires and instincts—come together to build a community.” —Los Angeles Times
“After writing some of the most brilliant and ferocious fiction of the past 40 years, Jane Smiley takes a gentler approach in Perestroika in Paris . . . Her tone may be genial, but she’s as tough-minded as ever . . . Underpinning the novel’s abundant humor is a pervasive atmosphere of loneliness and longing for companionship felt by humans and animals alike.” —Boston Globe
“A beautifully done story . . . An absolutely extraordinary tribute to Paris.” —NPR’s Weekend Edition
“An immersive fable . . . Beguiling . . . A comforting read at the end of a difficult year—a winter’s tale full of wit, warmth, and charm.” —The Economist
“A remarkable novel that splits the difference between Charlotte’s Web and Animal Farm . . . Perestroika in Paris takes its place alongside the likes of Through the Looking-Glass, in that it will reward both precocious young readers and their parents with a sense of wonder and whimsy.” —BookPage (starred)
“This is the perfect book for those for whom the real world, wracked with pandemic and politics, has become something to avoid.” —Publishers Weekly
“The life-affirming grownup fable we all need right about now . . . It might just be the perfect antidote for 2020 . . . Jane Smiley has created a world where kindness is king, and that’s exactly where I want to be.” —Washington Independent Review of Books