Paris in the Present Tense by Mark Helprin


I listened to this twelve-CD novel in my car.  I’ve just noticed on the cover that Mark Helprin is the “#1 New York Times Bestselling Author of Winter’s Tale.”  How weird is that, me having just finished Jeanette Winterson’s retelling of Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale?

I probably put this one on my list based on a mention in a “Briefly Noted” column in The New Yorker magazine.  The word “Paris” and the fact that the protagonist is a cellist would have done it.

I found the descriptions of Paris and the feelings the cellist (Jules) expresses about music to be everything I could have wished for.  Beyond that, the plot is quite a ride with several twists.  Jules’s past and the great love he has for his family drive his actions ever onward to the book’s conclusion.

I don’t want to let slip any spoilers, but I will say that Jules’s reminiscence about his spouse’s death moved me.  We know his wife is dead well in advance of learning the details.  This is a well-crafted story, even if one doesn’t quite believe in recurrent cases in one man’s life of love at first sight.  I’m glad I read it.

5 comments on “Paris in the Present Tense by Mark Helprin”

  1. The Winter’s Tale connection is special – The title of the book grabbed me since I’d love to be in Paris wandering around just about any day of the week…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. As would I, Borkali. I’ve often thought that if I were to write a piece of fiction I’d want to set it in Paris so I would be compelled to do thorough research there.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Teri, Mark Helprin is a fave of mine and, while I have this book on the shelf, I have not read it yet. Too many books in my pile but you inspire me to get to it. I have loved every book of Helprin’s I have read, especially Winter’s Tale and A Soldier of the Great War. He is a masterful storyteller and clearly loves language.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, Teri, Winter’s Tale is a book I reread every 10 years or so. And it never disappoints. It reminds me, always, of what matter…

      Liked by 2 people

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