INSTANT NATIONAL BEST SELLER
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.
“If you’re looking for a feel-good escape, try this.” —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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
The star of Jane Smiley’s charmer of a novel, in which all the animals talk, is a fancy racehorse. But don’t expect the whimsy of The Wind in the Willows or the allegorical harshness of Animal Farm. Perestroika in Paris follows the adventures of a filly nicknamed Paras, who wanders away from her restrictive, pampered life and into the wilds of Paris. On her strange journey into the unfamiliar, Paras hooks up with a street-smart crew—a dog, a raven, two mallards, and a rat—who throw the horse’s naivete about the world and her place in it into high relief. (When she mentions that humans ride her, her canine friend, Frida, looks startled and replies, “That must slow you down.”) Often extremely funny, Perestroika makes us see the strangeness and beauty of our own too-familiar world with fresh eyes. It’s a pure joy to read from start to finish.
Fans of Pulitzer winner Smiley (A Thousand Acres) won't be surprised to find a horse in her fanciful latest; this time out it's a talking racehorse named Perestroika. Paras, as the horse is known, wanders out of her stable and finds herself in Paris's Place du Trocad ro, where she meets Frida, a shorthaired German pointer who understands money and uses it to buy food for Paras and herself. There are no yellow vest protestors in Smiley's idyllic Paris, where shopkeepers know all their customers and happily make change for well-behaved Frida. Paras was happy at the track, but she's too curious to stay there (as Smiley indicates perhaps too often), and in her fable-like travels around Paris she encounters a wise raven who dispenses advice, an eight-year-old orphan who can hide a horse, and plenty of happy endings not just for the animals, but for the people they encounter, especially if they, like Paras, are open to seeing the wonders of the world. As relationships deepen between animals and humans in their exploration of where to call home, Smiley steers them toward a satisfying feel-good ending. Relentlessly upbeat there are no villains here, and even dogs and rats cooperate this is the perfect book for those for whom the real world, wracked with pandemic and politics, has become something to avoid.
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