The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

My first exposure to Lucy Foley was The Guest List, which I devoured immediately upon getting my copy in the mail. It wasn’t my favorite book, but it certainly captured my attention, so I was eager to read The Hunting Party. That was a better fit for me, and it felt like I was getting to know the author’s writing style: the slow reveal, after much hinting, of lots of secrets; multiple narrators who had complicated backstories that made them seem sinister even if they weren’t; moody, isolated settings that added to the sense of foreboding. 

When I heard that Foley had a new book coming out, I wanted to read it as soon as possible. And my library got me a copy of The Paris Apartment just a week or so after its release date. 

image from amazon.com

Sadly, I think I’m realizing that Lucy Foley might not be my Perfect Match Author. This is really disappointing, on one level, because she is so popular and I love it when I can share the excitement around a beloved author producing a new book. But on another level, not every lid fits every pot, and there are so very many other authors that ARE my perfect fit authors… so if I can release myself from the desire/obligation to read every Lucy Foley book, that opens up more time to read authors I already love and new authors I have yet to discover.

Rating:

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Mini Synopsis: Jess, hoping for a fresh start, moves to Paris to live with her half-brother Ben. But Ben is nowhere to be found… and it becomes increasingly clear that the creepy residents of his luxury apartment building are hiding something. 

What I Liked About This Book: I liked the short chapters. I liked the story Ben turned out to be investigating. 

What I Didn’t Like About This Book: This wasn’t a book for me, and it always makes me uncomfortable to give a negative review because they are so subjective and as a would-be writer myself, I can imagine how hurtful they can be. But I love reading negative reviews because they can really help me center my expectations for a book. My issues with The Paris Apartment may be exactly what makes it perfect for you. 

The first thing I didn’t like was all the secrets. We are so familiar now, as readers, with the idea that every character has a dark secret they are trying desperately to hide. And sometimes I get very weary with that type of character development. So that’s on me. But in The Paris Apartment, I felt like the secrecy was front-loaded in such a way that it made me hard to find a toehold in the story. There are multiple narrators in this novel, which I often enjoy, and the chapters were very short which normally helps move a book right along… but here, the narrative jumped around so much and so quickly that I felt like I wasn’t getting a good sense of the main plot. I had to take a weeklong break from reading this book before I felt up to diving back in… and then it took me until I was fully halfway through the book until I felt like the story really got interesting.

The characters also seemed a little one-dimensional. I did not like or care about the protagonist, and none of the other characters – maybe with the exception of Sophie – felt like they had any depth, or whether their motivations seemed realistic. For instance, there were a couple of romantic entanglements that felt like they came completely out of nowhere. I am of the mind that not every novel needs to have romance, though, so take my comments with a grain of salt.

As long as we’re talking about things that I didn’t like, I might as well be super picky and say that I grew extremely irritated by the use of French phrases quickly followed by their English translations. Jess doesn’t speak French, so I suppose it’s pkausible that most of the characters would speak English around her… but it seemed like, even in chapters where the narrator was French, we’d get a French phrase or several, followed immediately by its translation. I don’t know why this bugged me so much, but it did. I guess I think foreign phrasing should be used deliberately and for a reason that moves the narrative forward, and that the phrases should be so simple/common that most readers would understand them without a translation… or that the need to translate the phrase should be a plot point (a character saying something in French to leave the main character out might go untranslated so that the average reader experiences a similar state of confusion, for instance).

Should You Read This Book? This book – and perhaps Lucy Foley’s books in general – was not for me. But I think if you already love Lucy Foley, I have no doubt you will love The Paris Apartment too. It has all the elements I am beginning to associate with her work: lots of twists and turns, multiple characters with complicated backstories and sinister secrets, and a creepy, isolated location.

2 thoughts on “The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

  1. I think it’s okay to write negative reviews, particularly if you are specific about what you did not like. It’s one thing to say “this is a bad book” and another to say “I personally did not care for the secrets, one-dimensional characters, and unnecessary translations.” People can decide for themselves if those are dealbreakers for themselves.

    I just read a book where the word blink was used 191 in a 400 page book. That was…incredibly annoying.

    Liked by 1 person

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