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From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Thousand Acres and the New York Times best-selling Last Hundred Years Trilogy, a captivating, brilliantly imaginative story of three extraordinary animals--and a young boy--whose lives intersect in Paris Paras, short for "Perestroika," is a spirited racehorse at a racetrack west of Paris. One afternoon at dusk, she finds the door From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Thousand Acres and the New York Times best-selling Last Hundred Years Trilogy, a captivating, brilliantly imaginative story of three extraordinary animals--and a young boy--whose lives intersect in Paris 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 and Christmas near, 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.


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From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Thousand Acres and the New York Times best-selling Last Hundred Years Trilogy, a captivating, brilliantly imaginative story of three extraordinary animals--and a young boy--whose lives intersect in Paris Paras, short for "Perestroika," is a spirited racehorse at a racetrack west of Paris. One afternoon at dusk, she finds the door From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Thousand Acres and the New York Times best-selling Last Hundred Years Trilogy, a captivating, brilliantly imaginative story of three extraordinary animals--and a young boy--whose lives intersect in Paris 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 and Christmas near, 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.

30 review for Perestroika in Paris

  1. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    Jane Smiley opened my mind about horses and their personalities. I continue to feel that her novel “Horse Heaven” is one of my all-time favorites. For me, that novel is a 10-star novel. So, upon seeing her newly released novel, “Perestroika in Paris” which is also about a horse, I immediately pre-purchased it. What Smiley does perfectly is write about the minds and personalities of horses, and in this case, many animals. For those of you who have noticed birds yapping away before they fly south f Jane Smiley opened my mind about horses and their personalities. I continue to feel that her novel “Horse Heaven” is one of my all-time favorites. For me, that novel is a 10-star novel. So, upon seeing her newly released novel, “Perestroika in Paris” which is also about a horse, I immediately pre-purchased it. What Smiley does perfectly is write about the minds and personalities of horses, and in this case, many animals. For those of you who have noticed birds yapping away before they fly south for the winter, well Smiley has given them voice. In “Perestroika in Paris” a dog is a major character as well. I have always thought my dog thinks human thoughts that she communicates with her eyes and body. Now, I see Smiley feels the same. This is a sweet story about a racing horse who escapes her horse stall and walks the streets of Paris. The horse, Paras, short for Perestroika, was curious, as all fillies are, and wanted to know what lay beyond the racetrack. She meets a dog who just lost his owner. There are a pair of ducks and a raven as well. Oh, and two rats! Smiley even made the rats interesting. This is an animal adventure book with talking animals, and they are hilarious. The story does include a few humans, all of whom are kind, and perhaps a bit unaware. People in general walk with their heads down, minding their own business, no eye contact, hurrying to their destination. A city gardener did notice some horse dung, but shook it off, without much curiosity. The horse roams at the dead of night, when most people are sleeping. Paras does find a baker who is awake, and she feeds the horse when the horse visits. It's the animal observations that are fun. Paras thinks “Dogs, evidently, saw humans as friends, whereas horses saw them as coworkers.” What Smiley does is make the reader sit back and notice nature more. What are those birds saying? Are they really fighting? What about my dog? Are those small dogs who bark consistently really saying “stay away! Stay away!” Or “don’t harm my owner!” Or “pick me up mommy!!” This is a quick novel, a bit over 200 pages. It’s one of those stories that makes my heart soar and brought me back to when I read stories to my little ones. It’s clever, observant, and innocent. It’s just what I needed.

  2. 5 out of 5

    vicki honeyman

    It's been many years since author Jane Smiley, whose 1991 Pulitzer Prize and National Book Critics Circle Award bestseller "A Thousand Acres," has been in my book radar. What a Big Treat it was to discover that not only has Jane Smiley published a new novel to share with her fan base, she's written a story with delightfully unique voices who have a timely message to share with the world. From page one and through the last page, I found myself utterly hooked, falling head over heels in love with It's been many years since author Jane Smiley, whose 1991 Pulitzer Prize and National Book Critics Circle Award bestseller "A Thousand Acres," has been in my book radar. What a Big Treat it was to discover that not only has Jane Smiley published a new novel to share with her fan base, she's written a story with delightfully unique voices who have a timely message to share with the world. From page one and through the last page, I found myself utterly hooked, falling head over heels in love with each and every character who include a racehorse, a raven, two ducks, two rats, and an 8-year old Parisian boy. Smiley rejoices in the animal world and their commanding communication skills, showing her readers that all living things desire freedom, love, and understanding. I highly recommend this absolutely charming read and can't say it loud enough: "Perestroika in Paris" is my end of 2020 all-time favorite novel!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Richard Seltzer

    A horse, a dog, a raven, a pair of mallards, and a pair of rats survive and thrive on their own in downtown Paris. All of them can talk to and understand one another. All of them can understand what people say. But people can't understand them. Their view of the world is childlike and naive. They muddle along thanks to good luck and the sympathetic good will of the people they encounter, especially an eight-year-old boy. This isn't an allegory or a fable, like Aesop, Animal Farm, or Watership Do A horse, a dog, a raven, a pair of mallards, and a pair of rats survive and thrive on their own in downtown Paris. All of them can talk to and understand one another. All of them can understand what people say. But people can't understand them. Their view of the world is childlike and naive. They muddle along thanks to good luck and the sympathetic good will of the people they encounter, especially an eight-year-old boy. This isn't an allegory or a fable, like Aesop, Animal Farm, or Watership Down. It isn't a story told from the perspective of a horse as a way to reflect on human behavior, like Black Beauty or Tolstoy's Strider. It also isn't a tale of a child's special bond with horse or dog, like Lassie, Black Stallion, or Old Yeller. Rather this is a fun story for the sake of story. The characters happen to be animals and their personalities are built on the typical behavior and the physical capabilities and limitations of their species. But they come alive and grow and interact with one another as unique individuals. Hop on the back of Paras, the race horse, and enjoy a midnight ride around the Champs de Mars, with the lights of the Eiffel Tower in the background. Sit behind Etienne the eight-year-old boy. Raoul the raven will settle on your shoulder. Kurt the rat will hold onto the horse's mane. Frida the dog will run alongside. The night is young, and you can be as well.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kay

    Talking animals book for adults? Okay... That was my initial thought. But because I have a friend who is an absolute horse-lover I got her this book. She also enjoys cozy, and whimsical reads so maybe Perestroika in Paris would be a good book ... Later I saw this on our library overdrive and decided to borrow it and yup, this is such a great story of friendship through differences. Charming with Paris setting and uplifting. It's a wonderful read especially during this time of year. I can see chil Talking animals book for adults? Okay... That was my initial thought. But because I have a friend who is an absolute horse-lover I got her this book. She also enjoys cozy, and whimsical reads so maybe Perestroika in Paris would be a good book ... Later I saw this on our library overdrive and decided to borrow it and yup, this is such a great story of friendship through differences. Charming with Paris setting and uplifting. It's a wonderful read especially during this time of year. I can see children enjoying this as well. Please someone make this into a movie!!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Erin Glover

    This novel made me feel like a child reading a fairy tale, in a good way. To enjoy it, you'll need to suspend all disbelief. It reminds me of Dr. Doolittle. If you're looking for some nice light reading where animals talk and 8-year-old boys can take care of themselves, this book is for you. If a dog carrying a purse with money into a grocer's and buying food seems too far-fetched, you're better off skipping this one. This novel made me feel like a child reading a fairy tale, in a good way. To enjoy it, you'll need to suspend all disbelief. It reminds me of Dr. Doolittle. If you're looking for some nice light reading where animals talk and 8-year-old boys can take care of themselves, this book is for you. If a dog carrying a purse with money into a grocer's and buying food seems too far-fetched, you're better off skipping this one.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Yes, this is a talking animal book, but the animals only talk to each other; they communicate with humans through their gestures and soulful eyes. Kindly shopkeepers work out what Frida wants to buy based on what she stares at or points to with a paw; the baker whose window Paras passes on her early morning walks intuits that the horse is hungry; Etienne, who gives a couple of the stray animals a home during a chill winter, learns to understand when Paras needs to go out to relieve herself, afte Yes, this is a talking animal book, but the animals only talk to each other; they communicate with humans through their gestures and soulful eyes. Kindly shopkeepers work out what Frida wants to buy based on what she stares at or points to with a paw; the baker whose window Paras passes on her early morning walks intuits that the horse is hungry; Etienne, who gives a couple of the stray animals a home during a chill winter, learns to understand when Paras needs to go out to relieve herself, after piles of dung build up in the sitting room. I liked how patiently and convincingly Smiley builds the portrait of each character – human or animal – and the overall situation of kindness and good fortune. Raoul is particularly amusing for his birdsplaining: “It is a feature of age. I have learned so many things in my life that they just force their way out of my beak,” he says. However, a crow would be much more realistic for Paris (or any city) than a raven, and, overall, this was a little twee and farfetched for my tastes. Still, it’s nice to read something a bit different from Smiley, who I haven’t tried since her Last Hundred Years Trilogy.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Darla

    Perestroika (Paras for short) discovers an unlatched stall and ventures out to find out if the grass really is greener in other parts of Paris. She meanders into a park near the Eiffel Tower and her period of freedom begins. Along with her are Frida (a dog), Roux (a raven), and Sid and Nancy (the Mallard couple). Frida is smart enough to know what to do with the euros in the purse Paras brings along. Roux pontificates at length on a variety of subjects. Eventually they go home with a boy who liv Perestroika (Paras for short) discovers an unlatched stall and ventures out to find out if the grass really is greener in other parts of Paris. She meanders into a park near the Eiffel Tower and her period of freedom begins. Along with her are Frida (a dog), Roux (a raven), and Sid and Nancy (the Mallard couple). Frida is smart enough to know what to do with the euros in the purse Paras brings along. Roux pontificates at length on a variety of subjects. Eventually they go home with a boy who lives with his blind and deaf great-grandmother, Madame de Mornay. A rat named Kurt joins the circle and it is delightful to see how all of their lives are changed as a result of their fellowship with one another. Assorted neighborhood shopkeepers and others develop relationships with one of more of the band of animals, but no one puts two and two together. How long can they all remain under the radar? Until the root cellar is empty? As long as Madame de Mornay is still living? When does indecision cross the line to procrastination? The city of Paris is a character of her own in this story. If I had visited that iconic city in the past I do believe I would have been ready to give this book five stars. The cover alone is spectacular. Thinking of a horse taking naps inside a beautiful old house makes me smile so big. Smiley's ability to take us into the minds and hearts of the animals is a gift and reminds me of Meindert DeJong and Kate DiCamillo. Thank you to Knopf Doubleday and NetGalley for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Steven

    ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. A marvelous, fantastical read, Perestroika in Paris needs to become an instant classic. This book has, by leaps and bounds, surpassed anything else I have read so far this year! I've never read a Jane Smiley novel, but I am so glad I was able to get my hands on this one. A fun, magical, wholesome story about a very special bond between an old woman, a young boy, and the animals he befriends. Perestroika - Paras, for s ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. A marvelous, fantastical read, Perestroika in Paris needs to become an instant classic. This book has, by leaps and bounds, surpassed anything else I have read so far this year! I've never read a Jane Smiley novel, but I am so glad I was able to get my hands on this one. A fun, magical, wholesome story about a very special bond between an old woman, a young boy, and the animals he befriends. Perestroika - Paras, for short - is a young racing horse that, being the curious filly she is, slips out of her pen one night and ventures into Paris. There, she meets Frida, a stray German Shepard; Raoul, an opinionated and self-aggrandizing Raven; and Étienne, a young boy caring for his 97-year-old blind and deaf great-grandmama. As these four lives intersect, they affect several others, both human and animal, setting into motion events that alter perspectives and change lives. I initially went into this a bit skeptical, as it's rare that I've found anthropomorphized animals done well for an adult audience. My uncertainty was quickly dispelled, however, as I immediately became enamored with the inner thoughts and social interactions of these very different animal personalities. I found myself enthralled as I discovered the world through the eyes of Paras, Frida, and Raoul. Through the use of lyrical language and beautifully-written prose, the author paints an enchanting picture of Paris and its inhabitants. The characters are pure, and their motivations - both human and animal alike - are lead by curiosity, adventure, love, and respect. Reminiscent of Milo and Otis and Homeward Bound, Perestroika in Paris is a story that brings with it a sense of wonderment that can, and should be, loved by all ages.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    I feel this fantasy is destined to become a classic. A French racehorse, Perestroika, aka Paras, curious to see the outside world, leaves her stall and escapes to Paris, where she lives for a time, becoming friends with critters [Frida, a dog who instructs the naïve horse about life in the outside world; a bossy though well-meaning raven, Raoul; a duck couple raising a family; Kurt, a rat pining for a mate;] and sympathetic humans, including Etienne, an 8- year-old boy and his nearly 100-year-ol I feel this fantasy is destined to become a classic. A French racehorse, Perestroika, aka Paras, curious to see the outside world, leaves her stall and escapes to Paris, where she lives for a time, becoming friends with critters [Frida, a dog who instructs the naïve horse about life in the outside world; a bossy though well-meaning raven, Raoul; a duck couple raising a family; Kurt, a rat pining for a mate;] and sympathetic humans, including Etienne, an 8- year-old boy and his nearly 100-year-old great grandmother. This was absolutely charming and delightful to read. For the young and young of heart alike. Very highly recommended.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mary Camille Thomas

    I’m suspicious of adult novels written from an animal’s point of view, but I trust Jane Smiley, and I admit, I was charmed by the cover, so I gave Perestroika in Paris a try and loved it. It is the story of a curious filly named Paras, short for Perestroika, who slips out of her open stall one autumn afternoon after winning a race at Auteil Racecourse and ventures into Paris. She takes up residence in the Champs de Mars near the Eiffel Tower and makes friends with a stray German shorthair named I’m suspicious of adult novels written from an animal’s point of view, but I trust Jane Smiley, and I admit, I was charmed by the cover, so I gave Perestroika in Paris a try and loved it. It is the story of a curious filly named Paras, short for Perestroika, who slips out of her open stall one autumn afternoon after winning a race at Auteil Racecourse and ventures into Paris. She takes up residence in the Champs de Mars near the Eiffel Tower and makes friends with a stray German shorthair named Frida, a raven named Raoul, and a pair of mallards called Sid and Nancy. This much you could guess from the cover, and I’ll try to explain why I liked it so much without giving away any more than that. Once I suspended my disbelief about animals being able to understand human speech and communicate with one another across species (though they have to find means other than language to communicate with humans), I loved being inside the minds of these remarkable characters, experiencing the City of Light in the way a horse or a dog or a bird might. What do they eat? Where do they sleep? Will Perestroika’s trainer find her? Can Frida avoid the dog pound? I will reveal just enough more about the plot to say that as the animals connect with human characters, the reader comes to care about them too, especially young Etienne, an orphan who lives alone with his very old great-grandmother in a big ivy-covered house on the Rue Marinoni. Even as I wanted to linger in Paris with these endearing people and creatures, the book turned into a page-turner. Each character faces real risks as they try to balance the desire for freedom with the desire for love, but their concern for one another ultimately cushions them against the world’s dangers (and against uncomfortable suspense for the reader). In a time of national discord, the possibility of connecting with others quite different from oneself gave me hope. #netgalley

  11. 4 out of 5

    Candace

    Jane Smiley has a knack for expressing the feelings of animals, and "Perestroika in Paris" is a magical canter through Paris. It's not just the curious Perestroika, a filly living at a racetrack, but a dog, a raven, two ducks and a couple of handsome black rats who go along for the ride. Did I mention that Peres takes along a groom's purse as she leaves the stable? Her trainer, owner, and groom are all women and the filly has seen how they always carry these bags with them. This one turns out to Jane Smiley has a knack for expressing the feelings of animals, and "Perestroika in Paris" is a magical canter through Paris. It's not just the curious Perestroika, a filly living at a racetrack, but a dog, a raven, two ducks and a couple of handsome black rats who go along for the ride. Did I mention that Peres takes along a groom's purse as she leaves the stable? Her trainer, owner, and groom are all women and the filly has seen how they always carry these bags with them. This one turns out to be full of money, and you'll be delighted to see how animals figure out how to spend it. The humans in the story are the sweetest kind, and their communication with the critters does not include language, as it wouldn't. The animals can communicate with each other, and what they think about other species is quite fun. The most outspoken of these is the raven, Raoul, who is old and has met a lot of other animals, whom he addresses by their Latin names. Perestroika is a young filly and has only met other horses and a Jack Russell terrier named Assassin. Her innocence makes a delightful foil for the others. One of the most charming scenes has Perestroika's trainer consulting an animal psychic who says she sees the filly on a dark city street, window shopping. The trainer thinks she's thrown 100 euros away, but guess, what? The psychic is right on. The story goes on a little long, but it is a charming, lovely tale for these rocky times. Following the animals along the streets of a Paris neighborhood was a delightful vicarious vacation.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Charming, but my heart still belongs to Justa Bob.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Marjorie

    Such a delightful book and such a pleasure to read something so positive and uplifting. I'm passing it on to my 10-year-old grandson as it's a book for all ages. Most highly recommended. Such a delightful book and such a pleasure to read something so positive and uplifting. I'm passing it on to my 10-year-old grandson as it's a book for all ages. Most highly recommended.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    This is the perfect book to help you escape the world today. Delightful story with lovable and charming characters-an adventurous racehorse, a lonely dog, a know-it-all raven, a pair of ducks, and a couple of rats as well. I loved how the animals interacted with each other and with the compassionate humans they encountered in Paris. I think of it as "Charlotte's Web" for grown ups, but no spiders die. Older children might enjoy the story as well. Definitely one of my favorites read in 2020. Than This is the perfect book to help you escape the world today. Delightful story with lovable and charming characters-an adventurous racehorse, a lonely dog, a know-it-all raven, a pair of ducks, and a couple of rats as well. I loved how the animals interacted with each other and with the compassionate humans they encountered in Paris. I think of it as "Charlotte's Web" for grown ups, but no spiders die. Older children might enjoy the story as well. Definitely one of my favorites read in 2020. Thank you to Edelweiss and Knopf for the ARC.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    Jane Smiley's Perestroika in Paris was an easy reading, charming book, but for many pages I wondered what was the 'point'? Every book that gives animals human thought and language has a point, right? Sure, Paras (short for Perestroika) is a wonderful character, a filly too curious for her own good, who leaves the comforts of her home at the stable and the horse racing she loves to see the world--or, at least, Paris under the Eiffel Tower. Then there is Frida, the German Shorthaired Pointer ticked Jane Smiley's Perestroika in Paris was an easy reading, charming book, but for many pages I wondered what was the 'point'? Every book that gives animals human thought and language has a point, right? Sure, Paras (short for Perestroika) is a wonderful character, a filly too curious for her own good, who leaves the comforts of her home at the stable and the horse racing she loves to see the world--or, at least, Paris under the Eiffel Tower. Then there is Frida, the German Shorthaired Pointer ticked all over with a brown head and two patches, left on her own when her brilliant and eccentric owner is picked up from the streets by the gendarme. Frida understands human behavior better than we understand each other. Paras and Frida meet up and help each other, for Paras has brought her groomer's purse filled with winnings from the last race Paras ran. Frida takes the euros to the local shops and returns with dinner for them and their new friends, the bickering mallard ducks, Sid and Nancy, and Raoul, an aged raven. Paras walks the streets of Paris by night, visiting a Patisserie for a meal. Into her life comes Etienne, an eight-year-old human child living with his blind and deaf great-grandmother in the rundown family mansion. The elderly lady knits, using up her stash of yard, worrying about what will happen to her great-grandson upon her death, wondering if she did right by keeping him from school. The child secretly takes Paras into his home and his heart, Frida joining the family. They are befriended by the house rats Conrad and his son Kurt. Together they cobble together everything they need. Just when everything seems to have gone wrong, and Etienne faces his biggest challenge, the story resolves happily. The story never gets too syrupy and never gets preachy. And yet, I did find a 'point'. First, it is the story of family, the families we create by helping one another, joining our strengths, even if we seemingly have nothing in common--are 'different species'. Second, it is about finding our bliss, how curiosity leads us to new discoveries and fulfillment. Third, Etienne's family has survived horrible tragedy. WWI and WWII, the deaths of Etienne's great-grandfather and his grandfather and his parents. "It was their fate as a family, perhaps, or merely lick, merely a part of being French in the twentieth century, when wars came and went like terrifying, unstoppable tempests." ~from Perestroika in Paris by Jane Smiley Out of great tragedy, we can survive and even thrive. And last of all, there is the fortitude and persistence these animals show, accepting what they cannot change and changing what they can change. In the end, I discovered a novel that can be read by any age, in any age, portraying the core values that make a life. I was given a free book by the publisher. My review is fair and unbiased.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Abramson

    A sweet tale by a great writer about a horse, a dog, a raven, and a child that takes place in Paris. What else do you need in times like these?

  17. 4 out of 5

    Creager

    An unlatched stable door is too good to be true for Perestroika, a very curious horse. She quickly absconds to canter along the streets of Paris. Along the way she encounters many an odd character; a streetwise dog named Frida, as well as Raoul, the Latin lingo edition raven, and they become a blended family of sorts with a mallard-duo known by way of Sid and Nancy. Ere long our troupe encounters a range of a humanity; a lonely young boy, Etienne, and an oat serving lady named, Anaias. Perestroi An unlatched stable door is too good to be true for Perestroika, a very curious horse. She quickly absconds to canter along the streets of Paris. Along the way she encounters many an odd character; a streetwise dog named Frida, as well as Raoul, the Latin lingo edition raven, and they become a blended family of sorts with a mallard-duo known by way of Sid and Nancy. Ere long our troupe encounters a range of a humanity; a lonely young boy, Etienne, and an oat serving lady named, Anaias. Perestroika in Paris is Jane Smiley’s invitation into the Animalia Kingdom, with dashes of whimsical charm that is Paris and the Parisian.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Helene

    A horse, a dog, a crow, a rat, and some ducks, too. I throughly enjoyed their romp though Paris and I found myself wishing I had a grandchild to read this aloud to.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    I have been wanting this book since the minute I saw it advertised. I am a HUGE fan of Jane Smiley's Horse Heaven (10 stars), and she knows horses, and this premise sounded so delightful. I got hold of the book the MINUTE my library put it out (Dec 9). I'm sorry to say that I was disappointed in it. I was hoping for magic and charm and humor, and largely, it was missing. It was mechanical, the horse did this and then she did this and then the dog did this....At 1/3 I was feeling so disappointed I have been wanting this book since the minute I saw it advertised. I am a HUGE fan of Jane Smiley's Horse Heaven (10 stars), and she knows horses, and this premise sounded so delightful. I got hold of the book the MINUTE my library put it out (Dec 9). I'm sorry to say that I was disappointed in it. I was hoping for magic and charm and humor, and largely, it was missing. It was mechanical, the horse did this and then she did this and then the dog did this....At 1/3 I was feeling so disappointed (and glad I hadn't bought the book), but at 2/3 I was getting invested in the characters and had to see if they were going to be all right and by the end, I was happy that it ended well. Surprisingly for me, my favorite character was not the horse, she was a bit empty headed and didn't excite too much interest....it was the raven, Raoul, who was a smarty pants and too opinionated. He was cool. And the mallards were funny. I guess I like birds. The only time I laughed out loud was on pg 182, when Raoul the raven, who thought the mallards were silly, hysterical creatures, said he had "seen flocks of mallards squawking constantly, as if shouting to humans , "Shoot me! I can't stand myself any longer!". Hahahaha! Can totally picture it. Later, "Sid" the male duck, comes back after a winter in the south, and Raoul doesn't recognize him because he's calm and easy-going now. Sid the duck reveals that he's had a lot of counseling over the winter. He found out that duckling traumas had had a strong impact on his worldview, but he can own his future...Oh, and he finds his mate, Nancy, has had 6 ducklings and "they all look like Nancy." Have you ever seen ducklings???? We needed more of this in this book...! I did find a few things I wanted to underline, but couldn't because it was a library book...but there weren't many...sorry, Jane Smiley!!! I wanted to love it!! Honest, I've been telling everyone I HAD TO HAVE THIS BOOK! I'm suspecting that if Disney options it for a movie, that the movie will be better than the book, because the movie will make the animals cute and give them better dialogue. Someone did say that it was interesting to see the animal's view of humans and there were some good parts....Paras the filly says that humans needed to name racehorses because otherwise, they couldn't tell them apart, and she's incredulous over that. I read all the other reviews and almost all told the whole story and synopsis OVER and OVER and OVER again....not doing that here. Sometimes all the other people in the story were hard to keep track of: Rania, Delphine, Madeleine, Pierre, Anais, Jerome, Etienne, etc, etc.... And what time period was this? Sounds like modern day, but in the story, Paris is deserted at night, even downtown, near the Eiffel Tower and other famous attractions, but as far as I'm aware this is another city that never sleeps.....right? Anyway, I'm in the minority here, among all the 4 and 5 star reviews, so maybe others see more in it than I do. I do feel fond about it, but it wasn't GREAT. I was glad that nothing traumatic or sad happened to the animals, at least I didn't have to cry.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mid-Continent Public Library

    Perestroika (Paras for short) discovers an unlatched stall and ventures out to find out if the grass really is greener in other parts of Paris. She meanders into a park near the Eiffel Tower and her period of freedom begins. Along with her are Frida (a dog), Roux (a raven), and Sid and Nancy (the Mallard couple). Frida is smart enough to know what to do with the euros in the purse Paras brings along. Roux pontificates at length on a variety of subjects. Eventually they go home with a boy who liv Perestroika (Paras for short) discovers an unlatched stall and ventures out to find out if the grass really is greener in other parts of Paris. She meanders into a park near the Eiffel Tower and her period of freedom begins. Along with her are Frida (a dog), Roux (a raven), and Sid and Nancy (the Mallard couple). Frida is smart enough to know what to do with the euros in the purse Paras brings along. Roux pontificates at length on a variety of subjects. Eventually they go home with a boy who lives with his blind and deaf great-grandmother, Madame de Mornay. A rat named Kurt joins the circle and it is delightful to see how all of their lives are changed as a result of their fellowship with one another. Assorted neighborhood shopkeepers and others develop relationships with one of more of the band of animals, but no one puts two and two together. How long can they all remain under the radar? Until the root cellar is empty? As long as Madame de Mornay is still living? When does indecision cross the line to procrastination? The city of Paris is a character of her own in this story. If I had visited that iconic city in the past I do believe I would have been ready to give this book five stars. The cover alone is spectacular. Thinking of a horse taking naps inside a beautiful old house makes me smile so big. Smiley's ability to take us into the minds and hearts of the animals is a gift and reminds me of Meindert DeJong and Kate DiCamillo. * Reviewed by Darla from Red Bridge *

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    A lovely story following the fate of a race horse who leaves her home for the greener pastures of a Paris park. "To begin with, Paras had no idea of making a getaway." After all, she liked racing and her nice clean stall in Maissons-Laffitte. We follow her from the beginning when she is smart enough to bring the purse with the winnings that had been dropped by the horse's owner. Armed with money and soon with a dog pal, they find other friends including a raven and rat. The dog is city smart and A lovely story following the fate of a race horse who leaves her home for the greener pastures of a Paris park. "To begin with, Paras had no idea of making a getaway." After all, she liked racing and her nice clean stall in Maissons-Laffitte. We follow her from the beginning when she is smart enough to bring the purse with the winnings that had been dropped by the horse's owner. Armed with money and soon with a dog pal, they find other friends including a raven and rat. The dog is city smart and manages food purchases, and engineers a happy Christmas with a new shelter. Library Loan

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lain | onceuponanattorney

    4 ⭐️ for Perestroika in Paris Synopsis: From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Jane Smiley, comes a novel about extraordinary animals whose lives intersect with a young boy in Paris. When Paras, short for "Perestroika," curiously wonders out of her horse stall into the City of Light, her world is turned upside down. She meets Frida, a German shorthaired pointer, who recently lost her “person,” and has been forced to learn to get by without attracting the attention of suspicious Parisians. The tw 4 ⭐️ for Perestroika in Paris Synopsis: From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Jane Smiley, comes a novel about extraordinary animals whose lives intersect with a young boy in Paris. When Paras, short for "Perestroika," curiously wonders out of her horse stall into the City of Light, her world is turned upside down. She meets Frida, a German shorthaired pointer, who recently lost her “person,” and has been forced to learn to get by without attracting the attention of suspicious Parisians. The two embrace their freedom and love for the city as they explore its different parts and meet other animals. Everything changes, though, when Paras meets a human boy, Etienne, who is living alone with his sickly great grandmother. The relationship that forms between Paras, Frida, and Etienne celebrates curiosity, ingenuity, and the desire of all creatures for true love, freedom, and companionship. My thoughts: this is a heartwarming story filled with some amazing elements. It gives you adorable animals and the City of Light (numerous pastries are described 🤤)—what more could you ask for? Between the length (only 288 pages) and the writing style, it is a quick and easy read. Also, although I requested this one because it has a German shorthaired pointer in it, it turned out being much deeper than I expected. The book is quite philosophical at times, musing on each animal’s or human’s desires for his or her life. Overall, the book is a perfect tale of how each of us can find our “pack,” even in the most unlikely of places and creatures. Who should read: fans of W. Bruce Cameron, fans of books that feature animal perspectives, or any animal lover who would enjoy a Parisian setting.

  23. 5 out of 5

    AL

    horse book cannot believe this is by the same person who did a thousand acres

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jenn

    THIS WAS SO GOOD!!!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Holly

    This novel was a lovely follow-up for fans of Smiley's previous Horse Heaven. This is a very different type of story, being told from the point of view of the non-human characters. Obviously this isn't for everyone; but we literary horse-girls are celebrating. Who are the horse girls? You might remember one of us from childhood. We were the girls who didn't want to play with dolls or miniature kitchens, the objects of our nurturing instincts walked on four legs. We also weren't fond of playing ba This novel was a lovely follow-up for fans of Smiley's previous Horse Heaven. This is a very different type of story, being told from the point of view of the non-human characters. Obviously this isn't for everyone; but we literary horse-girls are celebrating. Who are the horse girls? You might remember one of us from childhood. We were the girls who didn't want to play with dolls or miniature kitchens, the objects of our nurturing instincts walked on four legs. We also weren't fond of playing ball with the boys, our idea of sport involved running faster and jumping higher than any human body was capable of achieving. Horse girls are a much misunderstood group, marginalized by society for our equine obsessions. Even in adulthood, people just don't get our motivations. Yes, I've had my corporate executive career, but it really sucked balls in comparison to working as a groom at the racetrack. Yes, I have my own family, including a child that I conceived, gestated, birthed and raised to young adulthood. Soon she will be an adult with a life of her own. When that happens, there will be a horse waiting for me. That's what being a horse girl is all about; we know exactly what we want to look at, spend time with, blow our money on, and toil laboriously for: single horsepower quadrupeds. To quote the author: "But what truly horsey girls discover in the end is that boyfriends, husbands, children, and careers are the substitute-for horses” and “Fascination with horses predated every other single thing I knew. Before I was a mother, before I was a writer, before I knew the facts of life, before I was a schoolgirl, before I learned to read, I wanted a horse.” Jane Smiley is one of us; I call her the literary patron saint of horse girls who also happens to be a Pulitzer Prize winner. I noticed that GR members were asking if this was an adult book.....as if a novel with animal characters is beneath the dignity of grown-up readers. Yeah, and Animal Farm must be a children's book also, right? I have a sneaking suspicion that these same readers might devour a YA novel about fae teens and their anxiety over getting dates for the fae prom.......so those snooty attitudes are giving me secret giggles. So, in closing, this is a recommended novel for horse girls and I don't care if anyone else reads it or not......this is OUR thing!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Sweet story of friends who look out for each other... they happen to be a racehorse, dog, raven, rat, ducks and an 8 year old boy. I especially enjoyed the interaction with human characters — the shopkeeper, baker, park caretaker — who radiate true kindness. Smiley's writing, for all ages, doesn't disappoint. Sweet story of friends who look out for each other... they happen to be a racehorse, dog, raven, rat, ducks and an 8 year old boy. I especially enjoyed the interaction with human characters — the shopkeeper, baker, park caretaker — who radiate true kindness. Smiley's writing, for all ages, doesn't disappoint.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Diana

    With a sweet bedtime-story quality, this is a nice way to understand there are many ways to be a family and many special parts that make it whole.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    This one goes on the all times favorite list and is definitely one of, if not, my favorite book of the year. As I thought to myself, even before I saw practically the same words in NPR’s review, this book is balm for these times. It truly is special.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Katherine

    A sweet and fun novel, beautifully written.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    I was expecting warm-fuzzy; I wasn't expecting it to feel like a children's book. DNF @ 42%. I was expecting warm-fuzzy; I wasn't expecting it to feel like a children's book. DNF @ 42%.

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