Perestroika in Paris: A novel
by Jane Smiley
Hardcover- $23.95

Click on the ORANGE Amazon Button for Book Description & Pricing Info

Overall rating:


How would you rate this book?

Member ratings

  "" by Phyllisouthfield (see profile) 03/27/21

  "A delightful read that could teach humans how to get along." by thewanderingjew (see profile) 04/06/21

Perestroika in Paris, Jane Smiley, author; Suzanne Toren, narrator
This is a delightfully unusual fairy tale about animals who assume the attributes of humans. The characters are so authentically presented that the reader soon begins to think that a horse and a dog are actually conversing with each other, and also have the ability to understand and communicate with the humans they encounter. They are well able to sense if there are threats of danger near them. All of the creatures are depicted with interesting personality traits that are charming so that even the rat, often feared by some animals and humans alike, have a kind and likeable side that endears them to the reader. When the emotional side of these characters is revealed, the creatures becomes more acceptable and less objectionable and/or frightening to each other and to strangers.
The thoroughbred horse has been sheltered by his owners, and when she decides to explore the world as she walks through her open stall door, she meets many unlikely friends. Each of the creatures is on their own because of choice or circumstance, but although vastly different, they learn to respect each other. Soon, as their friendship grows, they also protect each other.
As they encounter humans of varying personalities, they are able to discern whether or not they are dangerous or kind. Their analysis of situations is based on their limited view of the world, the view they have been allowed to see or have had the opportunity to observe. The bird, of course, has the broadest overview, since flight enables birds to see much more than someone planted firmly on the ground.
As the dog, the horse, the bird and even the rat get to know each other better, mutual respect and admiration develop. They become more accepting of those they once feared. When a young boy is added to the mix, real compassion sets him apart. He comprehends their travails and seems to know how to provide for them so that they can survive and at the same time remain hidden from the authorities that might disrupt this little coterie. Discovery could separate them all and/or cause their demise. The boy is also in a precarious situation and is in need of companionship. Each of the characters is alone in his/her own way. Each needs to learn how to navigate the world. Each needs some guardian angel to save them. All of them seem to have a natural enemy based on circumstances beyond their control.
The empathy and compassion exhibited is very heartwarming. How the dog learns to use money to manage purchases and obtain necessary food could be an example for humans. In addition, the developing feelings of respect for each other and their belongings is a great example of good character. The tale is tender and an example of how humans might think about their own fixed ideas and reconsider them. Sometimes fear is based on misunderstandings or ignorance. Sometimes it is based on a reality that is drawn from incomplete information and a rush to judgment. Often a higher authority is necessary to clarify conflicts.
This is a clever portrayal of life using anthropomorphism to break it down to its simplest terms. Ultimately, they are all, human and creature, trying to survive and stay content within their circumstances. Positive attitudes thrive over negative ones, and independence is rewarded over sloth. Instinct often helps them anticipate problems and alter their behavior. They use their senses and common sense to determine how to act. Their inexperience, youth, lack of exposure and interaction with other species sometimes makes it hard to comprehend the world around them. Isn’t this also true of human beings? This could be a primer on how to get along with each other regardless of our differences. Patience, kindness, forgiveness and anthropomorphism are the winners of the day.

Remember me

Now serving over 80,000 book clubs & ready to welcome yours. Join us and get the Top Book Club Picks of 2022 (so far).



Get free weekly updates on top club picks, book giveaways, author events and more
Please wait...