A Paris Apartment

A Paris Apartment

by Michelle Gable


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The New York Times Best Seller!

Based on the fascinating true story of a treasure-stocked Parisian apartment opened for the first time in seventy years.

April Vogt, Sotheby's continental furniture specialist, is speechless when a Paris apartment shuttered for seventy years is discovered in the ninth arrondissement. Beneath the cobwebs and stale perfumed air is a goldmine, and not because of the actual gold (or painted ostrich eggs or mounted rhinoceros horns or bronze bathtub). First, there's a portrait by one of the masters of the Belle Epoque, Giovanni Boldini. And then there are letters and journals written by the very woman in the painting, Marthe de Florian. These documents reveal that she was more than a renowned courtesan with enviable decolletage. Suddenly April's quest is no longer about the bureaux plats and Louis-style armchairs that will fetch millions at auction. It's about discovering the story behind this charismatic woman.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250067777
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 06/30/2015
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 89,265
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

New York Times bestselling author of A Paris Apartment, MICHELLE GABLE graduated from The College of William & Mary. When not dreaming up fiction on the sly, she currently resides in Cardiff by the Sea, California, with her husband, two daughters, and one lazy cat.

Read an Excerpt

Chapitre I



She only wanted to get out of town.

When her boss sidled up and said the words “apartment,” “ninth arrondissement,” and “a ton of nineteenth-century crap,” April instantly thought: vacation. There would be work involved, but no matter, she was going to Paris. As every writer, poet, painter, and, yes, furniture assessor knew, it was the perfect place for escape.

The Paris team was already there. Olivier was in charge. April pictured him right then winding through the apartment, tablet in hand, scratching out notes with bony, crooked fingers. He’d called in reinforcements from New York because they needed another appraiser, specifically a furniture expert, to bolster their shoddy credentials in that area. According to April’s boss the seven-room apartment held “enough pieces to outfit twelve upmarket bordellos.” Peter’s expectations were low. April’s were high, but for a different reason. In the end they were both wrong.

Chapitre II

While her husband tightened his bow tie and straightened both sleeves, tucking and pulling to make his appearance ever more immaculate, April packed for her redeye to Charles de Gaulle. She was normally an efficient and well-honed traveler, but the thirty-day trip was screwing with her luggage ratios. April was never gone more than a week but, apparently, sometime in the two hours between “ton of crap” and before the issuance of a plane ticket, someone must’ve tipped Peter off that this was not your average find. Stay as long as you need, he said. We can extend the ticket.

April would remind him of this later.

“What’s the problem?” Troy asked, noticing his wife’s pinched forehead. He yanked his shirt straight.

“Packing. I’m not sure I have enough. Thirty days. In Paris. In June. Which means the temperature can shift sixty degrees in any given twenty-four-hour period. As they say, you don’t go to Paris for the weather.”

April looked up, eyes zeroing in on Troy’s left cuff link as it caught the light from the overhead chandelier. It was an irrepressible habit, “assessing” things, and April had to stop her brain from calculating how much that speck of onyx and platinum might go for at auction. It wasn’t that she longed for her husband’s sudden demise; not as a matter of course, anyway, and never as a means to obtain wealth. Rather, her mental appraisals were a by-product of working for the world’s largest auction house.

“What’s with the glare?” Troy asked, chuckling slightly. “Wrong links for this get-up?”

“No. They’re great. Perfect.”

April looked away, relieved she did not specialize in trinkets passed down from grouchy wrinkled coots and therefore lacked the education to size up her husband’s accoutrements. She did, however, have a hard-won de facto master’s degree when it came to assessing Troy Vogt. That alone told April the cuff links, the ones her husband earmarked for specific work events, were inestimable, at least to him. What it said about who might be in attendance April did not want to consider.

“I’m overwhelmed.” April shook her head, staring at her suitcase but not speaking strictly of sweaters and scarves.

“Pack light,” Troy said. “You can always buy more once you’re there. It is Paris, you know.”

April smiled. “That’s your answer to everything, isn’t it? Buy more.”

“And that’s a bad thing?” Troy said with a wink as he moved toward the full-length mirror, gently patting April’s backside as he squeezed past. “You are a rare wife indeed.”

A rare “wife.” The word startled April but shouldn’t have. It had a new meaning now. Wife. Wife.

“Not that anyone’s keeping track,” Troy went on, “except for all of Wall Street, but my ‘buy more’ philosophy is why the recession was the best thing to happen to my firm and our investors.”

“What a charming attitude,” April said, trying to joke. There’d been painfully little humor in their home of late. The whole thing felt creaky, rusted out. “Who doesn’t love the perspective of a smug Wall Street guy to really drive the point home?”

Troy laughed and slipped on his tuxedo jacket. He continued staring into the mirror, chortling to himself, as April sneaked one last pair of ballet flats into her hard-backed suitcase.

“Well, speaking of smug Wall Street guys,” Troy said with manufactured cheer, “it seems you lucked out once again.”

“Lucked out?” April steadied herself against the chest of drawers (George III, mahogany bow-fronted, circa 1790) as she eyed her suitcase, sizing up its potential weight. “In what way?”

It didn’t look that heavy.

April inhaled. Forever imagining her shoulders wide and strong like an Olympic swimmer’s instead of the slight, refined ones she really possessed, April heaved the bulging suitcase off the bed. It promptly thumped onto the floor, one-half centimeter away from shattering the bones in her left foot.

“Lucked out in avoiding another packing injury, for one,” Troy said. “You realize that thing is bigger than you are, right? Sweetheart, you already have the fortuitous plane ticket. You don’t need to break your foot to avoid going to one of my miserable work events.”

“Oh, they’re not that bad.” April wiped her brow, then tilted the suitcase on its side.

“‘Not that bad’? They’re awful and you know it. The other wives will be downright envious.”

The other wives. And what of them, April wondered? What did they think when they pictured Troy? When they pictured her?

“You are my lucky girl,” Troy went on. “Paris will save you. It will save you from yet another dreary evening in a roomful of capitalist drones.”

“Oh, yes, those wretched capitalists.” April rolled her eyes and continued in a poorly played British accent. “Sooo fortunate to avoid that ilk. Their vulgar obsession with monetary gain! They’ve no class a’tall.”

April hoped she’d adequately blanketed the sadness with her lame attempts at humor. She did feel fortunate. However, it was not because she got to bypass a swanky work event and tête-à-têtes with the brightest (and most insufferable) on Wall Street.

No, April could hang with the best of them, despite not knowing what happened in Asian markets that morning. She could even tolerate the scene’s newest trophy wife, who would inevitably overindulge in the champagne and spend half the night marveling at April’s various graduate degrees, ultimately screeching to those within booze-spilling range, “Troy’s wife majored in furniture!”

But April couldn’t remember the last time her PhD in Art History was mistaken for showroom salesmanship. Troy almost never asked her along these days. He was forever “just popping by” events that were “no-spouses” or otherwise “too boring” for April to attend. That was the problem. Troy called her lucky, he called her saved, but April couldn’t very well feel grateful to avoid a situation she’d never been expected to attend. Or worse, one where her company wasn’t even desired.

Troy stopped bringing her when things between them had been relatively good. Now, who knew? Was she even supposed to go? In the end April did feel “lucky” and “saved” because with a ticket to Paris in hand, she didn’t have to contemplate that night’s noninvitation. She did not have to wonder if it was by design.

“The accent needs work,” Troy said as he moved to her side.

“For the record”—April batted away Troy’s arm as he tried to help with the luggage—“I enjoy your events. The people are interesting. The conversation lively.”


He turned back toward the mirror and gave himself a smoldering stare. April never knew if Troy did this because he suspected she was looking or because he thought she wasn’t.

“What’s so important that you need to ship out tonight anyway?” he asked, the forced casualness in his voice indicative of a certain level of suspicion.

“You know how these things go.” April wondered if he’d cop to his own wariness. “Furniture emergencies. Have to get in there before the competition catches wind of the sale.”

“But you’re not usually gone more than a week, ten days max, and never with so little notice. It’s somewhat disconcerting to get an ‘I have to go out of town’ text and then come home to find one’s wife packing for a month.”

Is it? April wanted to say. Are you really all that bothered?

Under normal circumstances she might joke about him being the lucky one now, wife out of town and all that. But the figurative cuts and bruises were too fresh, their long-term prognosis unclear.

“I was surprised by the urgency, too,” April said. And she was surprised, but also grateful. “According to the guys in Paris, it’s a remarkable find. A woman died in the South of France but had an apartment in Pigalle that’s been in the family for over a century. They never owned the apartment, but leased it for a hundred years.”

As she spoke, her shoulders began to loosen, her jaw started to unclench. This was a place April still knew how to navigate.

“The woman,” she said, “the deceased, hadn’t been inside since 1940. No one has. I keep thinking the information must be wrong. Maybe the actual dates were lost in translation and it’s only been shuttered since an ugly divorce sometime in the late nineties.”

April felt herself cringe at the word “divorce” but it was too late. The word was already out. And she’d been so careful to avoid it.

“Seventy years!” she chirped, her voice climbing toward the thirteen-foot ceilings. “Unimaginable!”

“I don’t know,” Troy said and shrugged, betraying nothing with his stern, stone face. “Same thing probably happens in Manhattan all the time. Places stay locked up while estate lawyers and trusts cut automatic checks each month, no one bothering to question a thing.”

“Not if it was anything like this apartment. Evidently it’s crammed to the ceiling with furniture and paintings and basically every item that came into the family’s possession prior to World War II.”

“Anything good?”

“Olivier seems to believe so, or I wouldn’t be going. If nothing else, it’s all fresh to market. Not even the Germans got in there.” April shook her head in amazement. “You’d think at least one errant, gambling-addicted, drugged-up family member would have wanted to get his hands on the stuff somewhere along the way.”

“Unless it’s shit.” Troy picked up his phone and tapped out a message. His formerly smooth brow bunched up. “A Parisian hoarder,” he continued, though he was now most of the way checked out of their conversation.

April sighed.

“Ah, hon, I’m just kidding,” he said, always quick with the necessary retraction, like a reflex. “It sounds very cool. Really.”

The sigh? She hadn’t meant it like that.

“Yes. Cool.” April waved her hand around as if clearing the air. The gesture was haphazard but enough to pull Troy temporarily from his phone.

“Your rings,” he said, staring at her hand and frowning slightly. “They’re in the safe?”

April nodded and looked down at her bare finger. No one wore their good jewelry in Europe, right? This wasn’t about their marriage, it was about her job. Biting her lip, April blinked away the sudden sting in her eyes.

“Troy, listen—” April started, but he was already back to punching at his phone.

Suddenly April’s own phone rang. The car was downstairs. She looked over at her handsome husband and around at their handsome home and thought how happy she had been. For a time her life was bright and shining. Her apartment held everything she always wanted. Seventy years? She’d hoped to stay longer. Forever.

“I’ll miss you,” Troy said, appearing at April’s side as she tucked her phone into the leather tote she’d packed for the plane.

As he wrapped her in a hug, his perfectly masculine Troy scent filling every pocket of air around them, April tried to take him in. She tried not to contemplate when or if she’d have this five-senses feel of him again.

Troy gently kissed the top of her head.

“I don’t want you to leave,” he said, sighing loudly. “Maybe you can wait. A few days?”

He sounded so sincere.

“Oh, don’t worry,” April said and pulled away. “I’ll be back soon.”



Copyright © 2014 by Michelle Gable

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The Paris Apartment 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 36 reviews.
quaintinns More than 1 year ago
A PARIS APARTMENT by Michelle Gable, a fantastic debut novel, making you yearn to return to beautiful Paris and all the French has to offer. From the inviting front cover, to its escape within the journals of the former owner, Marthe de Florian, and the engrossing mystery – A winner! April, works for the auction house Sotheby’s, as a continental furniture specialist, and travels to Paris to evaluate the contents of an apartment which has been vacant for over seventy years. She also wants to escape her own life and her marriage, which is in shambles (like the apartment). Instead of concentrating on the furnishings, she is obsessed with the discovery behind this charismatic woman, and the secrets she held. However, as April learns more about Marthe’s life, she has to take inventory of her own life and control. With the help of a somewhat appealing solicitor, April begins to uncover the truth about the owner of the apartment, and why it has been kept locked for so many years. Alternating between Belle Epoch and modern day Paris, the novel is quite engaging for both readers of historical and contemporary fiction. You have to love dual narratives which cross time and generations. With April in the present, suffering from her husband’s infidelity and a bad marriage, and Marthe de Florian (1800s), orphaned with determination to rise above her status – both these women’s stories connect with complex relationships. What is not to love about alluring Paris? From the beautiful setting, French bakeries, croissants, fine wine, cheeses, coffees, crepes, champagne, art, history, culture, romance, and architecture . . . Inspired by true events, a delectable and engaging debut novel about two unforgettable and extraordinary (past and present) women, their struggles, and successes. Having been a fan of Michelle Gable on Goodreads with her insightful reviews – her writing style is captivating, as reflective in the charming, A PARIS APARTMENT--an author you most definitely, will want to follow. Michelle, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your website and front cover . . . STUNNING!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this. The research, the setting, the humor...everything. My book club agreed it was the best discussion we've ever had. The main character April was a controversial figure, which made for a fun debate in our group. Perfect book club read... definitely stirred strong opinions, which is what you want in a book club pick!!
irishclaireKG More than 1 year ago
Engaging But Frustrating... as it takes on way too much. The basic plot and its first several chapters are totally engrossing with the late 19th/early 20th century story of Marthe and Belle Epoque Paris absolutely the more fascinating of the dual stories. However, as the book moves along, it simply becomes too dragged out with too many competing storylines and loose ends: April's job, husband, marriage, childhood, parents, obsession with Marthe's diary, the attractive Frenchman (who comes across as cliched stereotype), and then there is Marthe's backstory to complicate further. It's like the author just had to throw in every, possible, complication--and while I realize the point is for April to discover truths about herself--by the time I got to page 300 and threads were still unraveling--I was done. I had almost lost interest entirely. Plus, April's wishy-washy and petulant approach to her husband (who I found such a pompous jerk I couldn't really understand her dilemma) is as hypocritical as she accuses him of being. The author then tries to tie up all the stories at once resulting in more 'stuff' that needed to be tied up far more rapidly to keep my interest. By the end, I found it all rather anti-climatic. A side, stylistic point drove me nuts--the overwhelming and stupefying use of exclamation points as seemingly the only punctuation mark in the Marthe plot. To establish a very young character early in her life makes sense--but it does not let up--I finally felt like I had to read every sentence at break neck speed and with nonsensical excitement. Instead of establishing character, it reads like an elementary student's attempt at story-telling. Ditto the ponderous repetition of the word 'provenance' as we move into later chapters. Yes, we get it--it's a theme. But some editing would have greatly helped my interest and tolerance levels. That being said, it's a decent beach read but one I wanted to be a lot better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked this story well enough to finish it - barely. While the main characters were loosely based on real people, the fictional interactions were shallow and often just plain silly. The labored comparisons were juvenile and the overuse of the word "smirk" went from annoying to humorous. I wish B&N would find a way to filter the nonrelevent exchanges inserted into the reviews along with five stars. They skew the ratings and, as in this case, give a ho-hum read far more credit than it deserves. Sorry, not worth the money.
wordsandpeace More than 1 year ago
Fascinating historical novel on Paris at the end of the 19th century. VERDICT: In the company of the furniture assessor April, go spend a month in Paris and get to know with her a remarkable woman who lived their at the end of the 19th century. This fascinating historical novel will open a new world to you, with messages that may give you a new lease on life. A Paris Apartment is based on a true story that recently came to light: in 2010: a 7-room apartment was discovered in Paris, 9th arrondissement. No one had entered it in 70 years, and it was crammed with precious pieces of furniture from all kinds of periods and provenances, that the family finally wanted to auction. This historical novel features April Vogt, PhD in art history, an American furniture assessor working for the Sotheby company. She is urgently called by her boss to go spend the month of June in Paris to prepare that auction. It might be also a good time to get away for a while from her husband Troy. After 7 years of married life, their situation is rather shaky. When April enters the apartment, she not only finds amazing furniture, but also a painting her expert eye recognizes right away as a work of the most famous portraitist of La Belle Époque, Giovanni Boldini, and even more intriguing: a bunch of letters dating back to 1898. Avidly reading these letters, she connects deeply with this mysterious woman, Marthe de Florian, and finds in this unique experience messages for her own life. Let me tell you why this was such an amazing historical novel. First, I really enjoyed how the author manages the connection between April’s present life and the 19the century: the flashbacks happen as April reads Marthe’s letters, and the transitions are always smoothly brought in. So instead of having abrupt changes from one chapter to the next, as is often the case, here one period leads naturally to the other. I also enjoyed a lot Marthe’s character. She ends up being a courtesan meeting lots of very famous and colorful characters people in her life, artists as well as politicians. Through her diary, you get a nice portrait of life at Les Folies Bergères, as she worked there as a barmaid; of the beginning of the famous restaurant Maxim’s; of the 1900 Exposition Universelle. You thus get a nice flavor of life in Paris at the time. Marthe is so funny, and her critical eye is irresistible, for instance against Picasso; and the American absence of taste in art, and Proust! Gable created true to life and very diverse characters. April is certainly very different from Marthe, yet elements of her own life connect her deeply to this woman from the 19th century. Getting to know her at a deeper level, she has to fight to be sure Marthe gets the auction she deserves, where she will be recognized for who she was. But to achieve this, April needs to fight the commercial interests of her own company. Will she be feisty enough? The descriptions of Paris and French food were awesome, and made me wishing to be transported there right as I was reading the book. And there’s the typical very flirtatious French attorney, Olivier… Quite annoying for April at first. Will she manage though to resist his charm? I also enjoyed a lot the big surprises coming about family relationships, how Marthe, Jeanne Daudet, and Agnès Vanier, you will have to discover who is she, are all related. The final scene of the auction itself was beautiful, with more surprise about why actually this auction was requested.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Period books usually bore me. This was captivating. Historically accurate...compelling
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Being involved in the arts and museum world, I enjoyed this book. I was surprised a bit to find out that this is based on true events. There was such a woman and there was such an apartment.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A very well-researched book. I thoroughly enjoyed it! I selected it for our Book Group to discuss. It was very well received! I have read "I'll See You in Paris" another first rate novel. Ms Michelle Gable is an extrordinary author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book, it took you from present day to the late 1800-early 1900 in Paris, and back. The ending was surprising and reading what women did to look beautiful back in the day and how auctions of antiques are put together, was very interesting. Thank you to the author for writing such a great book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I grew to know the characters of Nineteenth Century Paris in a personal, intriguing way. Well done!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
booknerdDS More than 1 year ago
I really loved this book.  First, the setting couldn't be better- Paris.  Second, I loved the way the author intertwined the past and the present.  The stories were so interconnected it was liking seeing pieces of a puzzle come together.  April and Marthe were excellent characters and I thought that the author really balanced their importance, one did not become more important than the other.  April and Luc were fun to read about and I always enjoy witty conversations between characters.  I loved that April was able to dig through the apartment and find Marthe's story there, waiting to be discovered.  This felt haunting in my instances, and I loved the feeling that that evoked through out the story.  This was a very well- written book, the story line was effectively delivered and the characters were memorable.  I enjoyed and highly recommend. 
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Can't wait to read the next one!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Throughly enjoyed every minute of this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I did not find the main character,April, likable. She always got in her own way.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed this book and I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. Very good job of intertwine the past with the present. Engaged me from start to finish.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book's beginning is good but drags after several chapters. Very disappointing . Read to the end but felt it is not a 5 star or even a 4 star. Something lacked in the writing . Did enjoy the wine and food.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago