#quickbookreview THE STRAYS OF PARIS BY JANE SMILEY Published Thurs 18th by @MantleBooks


18TH FEBRUARY 2021 https://www.blackwells.co.uk/?a_aid=babbageandsweetcorn

Paperback Copy


Paras is a spirited young racehorse living in a stable in the French countryside. That is until one afternoon, when she pushes open the gate of her stall and, travelling through the night, arrives quite by chance in the dazzling streets of Paris.

She soon meets a German shorthaired pointer named Frida, two irrepressible ducks and an opinionated crow, and life amongst the animals in the city’s lush green spaces is enjoyable for a time. But everything changes when Paras meets a human boy, Étienne, and discovers a new, otherworldly part of Paris: the secluded, ivy-walled house where the boy and his nearly-one-hundred-year-old great grandmother live quietly and unto themselves. As the cold weather of Christmas nears, the unlikeliest of friendships bloom among humans and animals alike.

But how long can a runaway horse live undiscovered in Paris? And how long can one boy keep her all to himself? Charming and beguiling in equal measure, Jane Smiley’s novel celebrates the intrinsic need for friendship, love, and freedom, whomever you may be . . .


When Paras the racehorse finds her stable door has been left open, she uses the opportunity to go on a little walk about, which leads her onto a much bigger and eye opening adventure.

In this dreamlike, fairy tale type read, we meet an eclectic array of characters, both animal and human, as their story unfurls exploring topics of friendship, adventure, belonging and survival. A gentle read, which many may find just the tonic at the moment, it reminded me of books I read when younger and therefore feel this book could be read and/or enjoyed by younger readers alike.

When Paras finds herself in Paris she meets the likes of a dog, a raven, 2 ducks, a rat and a young boy. The different characteristics of each animal are shown through their actions like Raoul’s somewhat superiority in the way he talks to the other animals and their past and recent lives are wonderfully shown through their personality like Frida’s fears and worries of other humans and cars. There isn’t a great deal of ‘plot’ to this novel, which is maybe why it felt a bit too long for me, but then I don’t think that’s what this book is about. It uses it’s characters to explore the themes of the book, yet at the same time keeping it nice and gentle. I did find myself wondering if this book was actually for younger readers, as the way it reads felt like that, but I have read many reviews from adults who thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Many thanks to Camilla Elworthy for sending me a copy of this book.


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