Forgiving Paris: A Novel - book cover
Literature & Fiction
  • Publisher : Atria Books
  • Published : 26 Oct 2021
  • Pages : 336
  • ISBN-10 : 1982104414
  • ISBN-13 : 9781982104412
  • Language : English

Forgiving Paris: A Novel

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of life-changing fiction brings her signature "emotional, heart-tugging" (Woman's World) prose to this wise and worldly novel of forgiveness and hope in the City of Lights.

In Indiana, Ashley Baxter Blake and her husband are about to take an anniversary trip to Paris, but she is hesitant. More than two decades ago, she made her most grievous mistake in that same city. She has never forgiven herself for what happened there, and she still harbors secrets that she's afraid will come to light. Just before the trip, Ashley gets a call from her niece. Jessie explains that her French boyfriend's mother remembers working at a bakery with an American named Ashley. "Could that be you?"

When Alice and Ashley meet, a flood of memories comes for both women, taking Ashley back to a reckless affair and an unexpected pregnancy and Alice to the night she nearly ended it all. Can this reunion bring healing and closure? Maybe it is finally time for Ashley to forgive herself...and Paris.

Editorial Reviews

"A heartfelt saga that explores love and forgiveness." ― Woman's World

Readers Top Reviews

Anna Montgomery
Bought it on release day, finished it on release day. Wonderful book, relatable to everyone, and such a heartwarming reminder of how gracious and merciful God is. Buy it, read it, share it
I was beyond excited when I heard Karen Kingsbury was writing a book about Ashley Baxter’s time in Paris. If you are a Baxter family fan, you’ve had to wonder all this time what happened to Ashley in Paris. I know I always have had those thoughts. Ashley Baxter has always held a special place in my heart out of all the Baxter siblings, so getting to read her Paris story was a dream come true. FORGIVING PARIS will not only answer the question of what happened to Ashley, but so much more is revealed in this book. Between the pages of FORGIVING PARIS, you find a young Ashley escaping Indiana after a horrible accident, where she is willing to leave not only her beloved family, but also the love of her life, Landon Blake. Paris, a chance to start over and to do the one thing she loves....paint. But after her art pieces are quickly shot down as not ' worthy , her confidence is shattered until she meets well known Paris artist, Jean Claude Pierre, a charmer, who promises her all his love despite his being married. Wrong on all levels, Ashley finds herself pregnant and Jean Claude gives her only one choice...abortion. Alone, ashamed, broken, Ashley knows there is one choice for her unborn child to return home to the family she left. Now twenty three years later, Ashley and Landon are heading to Paris for their 18th wedding anniversary and to celebrate Ashley's art gallery debut. Despite these milestone celebrations, Ashley cannot seem to forget her past choices in Paris. Will this trip only relive those dark moments or will the light finally shine through leading her to forgiveness? A chance meeting to reconnect with a woman Alice, who all those years ago was facing her own demons of drug addiction and pregnancy, Ashley comes to face the 'little boats' that were caught up in her own storm and the outcome of those boats crossing paths. Can she finally heal and forgive herself and all of Paris? Journeying through the pages of FORGIVING PARIS, you find yourself full of so many emotions. You laugh, you cheer, you love, you pray and you cry. You read about not only one woman's quest for redemption and forgiveness, but the stories of Landon 's struggles while Ashley was in Paris. Of Alice, so desperate for that next heroin hit, she was ready to end it all. And of another young woman, Mia, who herself was caught up in the uncertainty of her life. Karen Kingsbury always goes way deeper into her stories then what's on the surface, you just need to open your heart and mind to let the real story reveal itself. FORGIVING PARIS will have you reexamining your own past mistakes and regrets and let you know that freedom and grace comes from forgiveness. I highly recommend this book .
Dr. D
I've read all of the Baxter books, and Ashley has always been my favorite, so I was looking forward to this one. I also thought it was time for Jessie Taylor to get featured, since the other Baxter grandchildren around her age have all had books (Cole, Maddie, Tommy). I liked the parts about Jessie and am rooting for her and Gabriel. This book held together as an engaging story in its own right. I read it quickly and was eager to see how it turned out. The resolutions were satisfying. I had mixed feelings about the tie-ins with previous Baxter books. For example, there were details about Ashley and Landon from elementary school that I recognized because I've read the Baxter children's stories, but for someone else who hadn't read them, that might have been confusing. I also had a bit of trouble with the sudden introduction of the high school car accident that pushed Ashley into going to Paris. We've heard a lot in the past about Ashley going to Paris, but this was brand-new information, and it felt a little contrived. Why couldn't Ashley have just wanted to push out of her "safe" boundaries within the Baxter family and spread her wings as an artist? Why did she need a tragic reason to go to Paris? I just thought it was unnecessary. Similarly, after all the ink that was used to discuss Elizabeth's letters in the earlier books--I mean, it was a BIG plot point as to how they found out about Dayne--it seemed really unlikely that they would have overlooked her cassette tape of reading the letters aloud (and ALL the letters? During those few months she was dying of cancer? Really?). Oh, and Elizabeth died in the 2000s, definitely after 9/11, so why would she be using a cassette tape? Didn't those go out of usage by the 90s or so? Finally, it seemed a bit too much that the artist who fathered Cole would have wanted Ashley (and the other girls) MURDERED--and that the hit man would still be out to get Ashley 22 years later. On the other hand, the introduction of new characters in Paris whose back stories connected with Ashley's DID work for me, though, and I thought that was the most compelling part of the story. It was believable to me that Ashley might have blocked a lot of that out and not talked about it after coming home. And, of course, she didn't know until the return trip to Paris how she had influenced their lives. That part was great, as was Landon's "little boats" imagery. Overall, I really enjoyed it and was happy to see Ashley get such great closure and find so much joy. I'm still mad about Cole dating Carolyn Everly though. I hated that twist at the end of Two Weeks. He should find Elise again.
Sharon Dean
I have read all the Baxter Family books and they are of at the top of my reading lists of all time favorites. And Ms Kingsbury had added yet another fabulous read to this list with Forgiving Paris. I’ve always wondered about Ashley’s time in Paris and so happy Ms Kingsbury wrote it for us. The way the theory of Landon’s little boats was interweaved into Ashley’s past was remarkable. My favorite of this story. We all have little boats and it made me realize that I when I am down and sulking or depressed about something, that my little boats are out there and that warms my heart. Even if I don’t know what is being held in my little boats. All the feels on emotion is in Ashley’s story. You cry, you smile, your heart is pushed in so many directions and the love that flows through this story of redemption, Ashley’s redemption. I enjoyed the parts of the past we didn’t get in the other Baxter books. Made the story fresh and new and loved how we didn’t see a lot of repeat of what we’ve read before but enough that this can be a stand alone read. Thank you Karen for sharing Ashley’s past with us. This is going to change the hearts of the hurting and confused. Because we all have a past, we all have secrets and God loves us through each and every one. No matter what! We always have our Father.

Short Excerpt Teaser

Chapter 1 1998 1
The incessant pounding rattled the living room window and shook the walls in the small Parisian flat where Marie Michel was trying to sleep. She folded the pillow over her head and squeezed her eyes shut. She was a terrible mother. How could she have raised a daughter who ran with drug dealers? An addict who had stolen from Marie… from her own mother.

"Change the locks," the police officer had told her last time it happened. "You're not helping by giving her a way to keep using."

More pounding.

Marie's heartbeat skipped and jumped and raced inside her chest. It was after midnight. What was her daughter thinking? Why wouldn't she get help? Marie threw the pillow on the floor and swung herself out of bed.

As she did, the pounding stopped. Marie held her breath. Ten seconds.… Fifteen. Still nothing. Silence. Marie exhaled. Alice must've moved on, scurried off through the dark of night to find the place where she slept-under some bridge or in a shelter in the most dank and undesirable part of Paris. Wherever the drugs were easy.

Marie lay back down and stared at the ceiling. Baby girl, I'm sorry… I never wanted it to come to this. A chill ran down her arms and she pulled the blanket over her thin body. She hadn't paid her gas bill again and this was the coldest night in May.

Life was eroding like the beach at high tide.

If her own mother were still alive, Marie knew what the woman would say. Pray, Marie. Pray. God has all the wisdom in the world. Talk to Him… ask Him. He loves you, Marie.

But what would it matter, praying to God now? Alice had been gone long before tonight. Marie's precious baby girl was eighteen and a child of the streets, running with derelicts and drug dealers. Marie wasn't even sure when she'd lost Alice. Three years ago, maybe. Sometime between shifts, when Marie was out working two jobs to keep food on the table. They would've been better off starving.

Then she might still have Alice.

Marie leaned over and clicked on the lamp by her bedside. A yellow haze filled the cramped room. Marie let her eyes adjust. She stood and pushed herself to the dresser by the window. Every step stirred the ache in her bones, the ache that always came with twelve hours of cleaning hospital floors.

Don't look at it, she told herself. You need to sleep. Morning comes quickly.

But her hands had a mind of their own.

They pulled open the second drawer and there, sitting atop a heap of worn T-shirts, was the photo album. The one Marie had put together for Alice's sixteenth birthday. An attempt to win her back and pull her from the seedy world she'd fallen into.

The effort failed, but the photo book remained. Proof that their time together hadn't been all bad. Marie picked it up and ran her thumb over the cheap cloth cover. At the center was a photo of Marie and Alice, cheek to cheek. In the picture, her precious girl was maybe ten or eleven. Before the streets had gotten her.

Marie stared at the image. "What happened to you, baby girl? Why aren't you here? Down the hall?" Her voice fell. "Your mama still loves you, Alice." A rush of tears came and Marie shut her eyes again. "I'll always love you, Alice."

Sleep wasn't going to come anyway. Marie took the album to the edge of her bed and settled in.

The first few pages were full of baby Alice, as if she'd come into the world like any other child. Alice on her blanket and in her crib, crying in her first bath and laughing at her favorite toy bunny. And Marie, a much younger version of herself holding baby Alice and walking her along the streets of Paris in the pram Alice's grandmother had given her.

But there were other moments the pages didn't show. Her mother's warning in the beginning, when Marie came home pregnant after her first year of college.

"You'll keep the baby, of course." M'man had pulled her into a hug. "I will help you." Then she had stepped back and looked deep into Marie's eyes. "But mark my words, Marie. Being a single mother will be the hardest job you've ever had. I should know."

Marie's father had left when she was six. That was the year her mother refused to go along with her father's affairs. "It's a Parisian thing," Marie could still hear him saying. "French men need more than one woman."

Finally, her mother had sent him on his way. "You can have all the women you want," she had told him. "Just not this one."