The Paris Apartment – A Novel – Lucy Foley [nytimes bestselling books]


The Paris Apartment – A Novel   Book information

Publisher    : William Morrow ( 2, 22, 2022)
Language    : ‎English
Hardcover   :‎368 pages
ISBN-            :10 ‎0063003058
ISBN-            :13 ‎978-0063003057
Item Weight : ‎1.15 pounds
Dimensions  : ‎6 x 1.17 x 9 inches

From Introduction….
His fingers hover over the keyboard. Got to get it all down. This: this is the story that’s going to make his name. Ben lights another cigarette, a Gitane. Bit of a cliché to smoke them here but he does actually like the taste. And fine, yeah, likes the way he looks smoking them too.
He’s sitting in front of the apartment’s long windows, which look onto the central courtyard. Everything out there is steeped in darkness, save for the weak greenish glow thrown by a single lamp. It’s a beautiful building, but there’s
something rotten at its heart. Now he’s discovered it he can smell the stench of it everywhere.
He should be clearing out of here soon. He’s outstayed his welcome in this place. Jess could hardly have chosen a worse time to decide to come and stay. She barely gave him any notice. And she didn’t give much detail on the phone but clearly something’s up; something wrong with whatever crappy bar job she’s working now. His half sister has a knack for turning up when she’s not wanted. She’s like a homing beacon for trouble: it seems to follow her around. She’s never been good at just playing the game. Never understood how much easier it makes life if you just give people what they want, tell them what they want to hear. Admittedly, he did tell her to come and stay “whenever you like,” but he didn’t really mean it. Trust Jess to take him at his word.
When was the last time he saw her? Thinking about her always makes him feel guilty. Should he have been there for her more, looked out for her . . . ? She’s fragile, Jess. Or—not fragile exactly, but
vulnerable in a way people probably don’t see at first. An “armadillo”: softness beneath that tough exterior.
Anyway. He should call her, give her some directions. When her phone rings out he leaves a voicenote: “Hey Jess, so it’s number twelve, Rue des Amants. Got that? Third floor.”
His eye’s drawn to a flash of movement in the courtyard beneath the windows. Someone’s passing through it quickly. Almost running. He can only make out a shadowy figure, can’t see who it is. But something about the speed seems odd. He’s hit with a little animal spike of adrenaline.
He remembers he’s still recording the voicenote, drags his gaze from the window. “Just ring the buzzer. I’ll be up waiting for you—”
He stops speaking. Hesitates, listens.
A noise.
The sound of footsteps out on the landing . . . approaching the apartment door.
The footsteps stop. Someone is there, just outside. He waits for a knock. None comes. Silence. But a weighted silence, like a held breath.
And then another sound. He stands still, ears pricked, listening intently. There it is again. It’s metal on metal, the scrape of a key. Then the clunk of it entering the mechanism. He watches the lock turn. Someone is unlocking his door from the outside. Someone who has a key, but no business coming in here uninvited.
The handle begins to move downward. The door begins to open, with that familiar drawn-out groan.
He puts his phone down on the kitchen counter, voicenote forgotten. Waits and watches dumbly as the door swings forward. As the figure steps into the room.
“What are you doing here?” he asks. Calm, reasonable. Nothing to hide. Not afraid. Or not yet. “And why—”
Then he sees what his intruder holds.
Now. Now the fear comes.

Three Hours Later

For Christ’s sake, Ben. Answer your phone. I’m freezing my tits off out here. My Eurostar was two hours late leaving London; I should have arrived at ten-thirty but it’s just gone midnight. And it’s cold tonight, even colder here in Paris than it was in London. It’s only the end of October but my breath smokes in the air and my toes are numb in my boots. Crazy to think there was a heatwave only a few weeks ago. I need a proper coat. But there’s always been a lot of things I need that I’m never going to get.
I’ve probably called Ben ten times now: as my Eurostar pulled in, on the half hour walk here from Gare du Nord. No answer. And he hasn’t replied to any of my texts. Thanks for nothing, big bro.
He said he’d be here to let me in. “Just ring the buzzer. I’ll be up waiting for you—”
Well, I’m here. Here being a dimly lit, cobblestoned cul-de-sac in what appears to be a seriously posh neighborhood. The apartment building in front of me closes off this end, standing all on its own.
I glance back down the empty street. Beside a parked car, about twenty feet away, I think I see the shadows shift. I step to the side, to try and get a better look. There’s . . . I squint, trying to make out the shape. I could swear there’s someone there, crouched behind the car.
I jump as a siren blares a few streets away, loud in the silence. Listen as the sound fades away into the night. It’s different from the ones at home—“nee-naw, nee-naw,” like a child’s impression—but it still makes my heart beat a little faster.
I glance back at the shadowy area behind the parked car. Now I can’t make
out any movement, can’t even see the shape I thought I glimpsed before. Maybe it was just a trick of the light, after all.
I look back up at the building. The others on this street are beautiful, but this one knocks spots off them all. It’s set back from the road behind a big gate with a high wall on either side, concealing what must be some sort of garden or courtyard. Five or six stories, huge windows, all with wrought-iron balconies. A big sprawl of ivy growing all over the front of it which looks like a creeping dark stain. If I crane my neck I can see what might be a roof garden on the top, the spiky shapes of the trees and shrubs black cut-outs against the night sky.
I double-check the address. Number twelve, Rue des Amants. I’ve definitely got it right. I still can’t quite believe this swanky apartment building is where Ben’s been living. He said a mate helped sort him out with it, someone he knew from his student days. But then Ben’s always managed to fall on his feet. I suppose it only makes sense that he’s charmed his way into a place like this.
And charm must have done it. I know journalists probably earn more than bartenders, but not by this much.
The metal gate in front of me has a brass lion’s head knocker: the fat metal ring held between snarling teeth. Along the top of the gate, I notice, is a bristle of anti-climb spikes. And all along the high wall either side of the gate are embedded shards of glass. These security measures feel kind of at odds with the elegance of the building.
I lift up the knocker, cold and heavy in my hand, let it drop. The clang of it bounces off the cobblestones, so much louder than expected in the silence. In fact, it’s so quiet and dark here that it’s hard to imagine it’s part of the same city I’ve trundled across this evening from Gare du Nord: all the bright lights and crowds, people spilling in and out of restaurants and bars. I think of the area around that huge cathedral lit up on the hill, the Sacré-Coeur, which I passed beneath only twenty minutes ago: throngs of tourists out taking selfies and dodgy-looking guys in puffer jackets sharking between them, ready to nick a wallet or two. And the streets that I walked through
with the neon signs, the blaring music, the all-night food, the crowds spilling out of bars, the queues for clubs. This is a different universe. I look back down the street behind me: not another person in sight. The only real sound comes from a scurry of dead ivy across the cobblestones. I can hear the roar of traffic at a distance, the honking of car horns—but even that seems muffled, like it wouldn’t dare intrude on this elegant, hushed world.
I didn’t stop to think much, pulling my case across town from the station. I was mainly concentrating on not getting mugged, or letting the broken wheel of my suitcase stick and throw me off balance. But now, for the first time, it sinks in: I’m here, in Paris. A different city, a different country. I’ve made it. I’ve left my old life behind.
A light snaps on in one of the windows up above. I glance up and there’s a dark figure standing there, head and shoulders in silhouette. Ben? If it were him, though, he’d wave down at me, surely. I know I must be lit up by the nearby streetlamp. But the figure at the window is as still as a
statue. I can’t make out any features or even whether they’re male or female. But they’re watching me. They must be. I suppose I must look pretty shabby and out of place with my broken old suitcase trying to bust open despite the bungee cord wrapped around it. A strange feeling, knowing they can see me but I can’t see them properly. I drop my eyes.
Aha. To the right of the gate I spot a little panel of buttons for the different apartments with a lens set into it. The big lion’s head knocker must just be for show. I step forward and press the one for the third floor, for Ben’s place. I wait for his voice to crackle through the intercom.
No answer.

The Paris Apartment – A Novel Review By Mittie Vine

The Worst Book I’ve Read.. (SPOILERS)
Reviewed in the United States on March 1, 2022

‘The Paris Apartment’ is the worst book I’ve read this year. The writing is sophomoric and riddled with cliches, and Foley’s portrayal of Paris is comically cartoonish. Also comical: peppering dialogue with the same handful of French phrases (in italics and immediately followed by an English translation), over and over throughout the book. (I lost count of how many times the word ‘putain’ was used, but it was at least every other page.)
Some reviews have complained that the characters are all unlikeable. I disagree; I don’t think any of the characters are remarkable enough to be disliked. The pace was so slow it put me to sleep, and the plot was utterly anticlimactic. This read less like a suspense / thriller and more like a YA novel adaptation of a Law & Order SVU episode. Before I elaborate on that, let’s get the summary out of the way.
Habitual bad decision-maker Jess steals money from her boss and flees to Paris to hide out with her brother, journalist Ben. When she arrives, Ben is nowhere to be found — but his apartment smells like bleach, there are blood stains on the cat, and the neighbors are acting suspicious. All signs point to murder!
After flip-flopping POVs and some saucy flashbacks, we learn that the residents of No. 12 Rue des Amants aren’t actually neighbors; they’re family. And the family business is running a top-shelf brothel. Prior to disappearing, Ben was writing an expose on the Meunier family. He was also hooking up with pretty much everyone (what a putain, hehe).
When Papa Jacque Meuinier discovers what Ben has been up to, he tries to kill him. Daughter Mimi (who is madly in love with Ben) intervenes and kills Jacque instead. To protect her daughter (who isn’t really her daughter), Matriarch Sophie (who is also in love with Ben) covers up the murder. Believing that they are disposing of Ben’s body, brothers Fake British Nick and Angry Antoine bury their father’s corpse. Meanwhile, Ben is alive and well (and probably wearing a beret and eating baguettes and doing other putain things) in the attic.
There are some other awkward, low-impact twists thrown in. For example.. Fake British Nick isn’t really British. Snobby Sophie isn’t really French. Angry Antoine is blackmailing Sophie. Ben and Nick hooked up in Amsterdam. Mimi is actually the daughter of a brothel worker, and the granddaughter of Unnamed Concierge. Camille and Dominique run off together.
Ultimately ‘The Paris Apartment’ fails to deliver a satisfying twist. Instead of building thematic suspense, Foley relies on the subject of sex work to infuse her story with shock value. I found this creative decision to be in really poor taste, especially when she leans so hard into the Eastern European sex worker / savior protagonist trope.
For example, here’s an actual line of dialogue from the book (from a character named Irina, who has a ‘thick accent’ and an STI): “I speak English. I’m clever. I want a normal job. It’s not what I came to this country for. I came for a new life.”
While a competent writer could handle that sort of subject matter with grace and finesse, Foley does such a clumsy job that it just comes off insulting and cringeworthy.

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