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Publisher's Summary

The New York Times best-selling author of Winter's Tale and A Soldier of the Great War, Mark Helprin reveals a powerful, rapturous novel set in a present-day Paris caught between violent unrest and its well-known, inescapable glories.

Seventy-four-year-old Jules Lacour - a maître at Paris-Sorbonne, cellist, widower, veteran of the war in Algeria, and child of the Holocaust - must find a balance between his strong obligations to the past and the attractions and beauties of life and love in the present.

In the midst of what should be an effulgent time of life, with its days bright with music, family, and rowing on the Seine, Jules is confronted headlong and all at once by a series of challenges to his principles, livelihood, and home, forcing him to grapple with his complex past and find a way forward. He risks fraud to save his terminally ill infant grandson, matches wits with a renegade insurance investigator, is drawn into an act of savage violence, and falls deeply, excitingly in love with a young cellist who is a third his age. Against the backdrop of an exquisite and knowing vision of Paris and the way it can uniquely shape a life, he forges a denouement that is staggering in its humanity, elegance, and truth.

In the intoxicating beauty of its prose and emotional amplitude of its storytelling, Mark Helprin's Paris in the Present Tense is a soaring achievement, a deep, dizzying look at a life through the purifying lenses of art and memory.

©2017 Blackstone Audio, Inc. (P)2017 Mark Helprin

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Elegant and illuminating

The written novel seemed daunting, and because I have no background in French; hard to read. The Audible version brought this work to life. The narrator was skilled in his reading, and I eagerly listened to this tale. Beautifully written. This will be on my frequent listen list.

27 of 27 people found this review helpful

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Greatest living "novelist". Top 10 narrator.

Helprin is the only writer going who combines exquisite phrasing with exquisite and important thought, always within the construct of the classical novel form. There are writers who are great with phrasing, or rumination/philosophizing, or sometimes (but rarely) even both. But to be able to achieve both, and frequently, while staying within an important and compelling story, within the complete novel form.........that's a feat so rare that it's almost disheartening to read Helprin knowing that at 70, he may not have many/any left in him. God, I hope not.

Pinchot is brilliant performing multiple accents across mixed dialogs, all with the proper cadence, emphasis, and heart. It's worth the listen just to hear a Texan talking with a Parisian over dinner!

69 of 71 people found this review helpful

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Excellent performance!

There are elements of the plot (romance between 25 year-old and 74 year-old, for example) that I found a bit hard to accept, the reader's performance is excellent! At times during conversations between strikingly different individuals, I would suddenly think, "Wait, I am listening to only one person. How is this possible?"

40 of 41 people found this review helpful

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A great listening experience.

A very good book well read. It took a little while to get into. But eventually I got into the rhythm of the book and didn’t want to stop listening.

15 of 15 people found this review helpful

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Beautifully written!

I loved everything about this book: the plot, characters, prose, and style! Bronson Pinchot was an excellent choice to read the book. This will break your heart even as it lifts it up!

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Helene
  • Washington Island, WI, United States
  • 10-16-17

Like a classic symphony

This is Helprin's best since A Winter's Tale. The story is multi layered, the writing positively lyrical, the characters so fully realized and accessible even on their uniqueness. I'll listen to this several more times and read the hard coy as well! Can't recommend it highly enough. If you love history, music, people in all their flaws, get this book

23 of 24 people found this review helpful

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well crafted, well read and beautifully written

This book is well worth reading. The narrator's various accents are practically perfect to my ear. The plot is novel and nicely executed. The prose is lyrical and compassionate, so overall a very good book.

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

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Once again...

Would you listen to Paris in the Present Tense again? Why?

Mark Helprin puts us into a fascinating world. He never disappoints and Paris in the Present Tense is no exception. The protagonist is a cellist - you can feel the music woven into the story without hearing a note. The place is Paris - you can see the changing weather and the sky and the streets. And of course, there's love, past and present, like an old ache or a new pain.

I won't discuss the story, I'm sure others will do that, but I will encourage you to let yourself enter Jules' mind and hear his memories, some of which are terrifying, then follow him around Paris and New York and Paris again, in his world of music and thought. There is much of all of us in Jules.

What did you like best about this story?

There are touching moments regarding Jules' parents and the war. He describes his loves and his failings with poignant clarity. There's humor: two detectives remind me of Inspector Clouseau, Jules manipulating insurance investigators and police is clever and funny. His descriptions of various musical pieces will send me right to my collection.

What about Bronson Pinchot’s performance did you like?

The performance was perfect, with the right touch of understated humor. The French accent hits just the right key and is never overdone.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

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Incredible

An wonderfully beautiful book. Pinchot does it justice with his masterful narration. Helprin’s prose flows like poetry.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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Forty years of Quality

I have been reading Mr. Helprin for forty years now and there has not been a single disappointment along the way. PARIS IN THE PRESENT TENSE, is wonderful in the way of all Helprin novels. It is a delight to the brain, a test of the heart, and most importantly, it brings comfort, hope, and sustenance to the soul.
Thank you Mr. Helprin!

10 of 11 people found this review helpful