Paris Was the Place

By Susan Conley

(Knopf, $27)

It’s 1989, and Willow Pears, a 30-year-old poetry professor from California, is living in Paris with a cozy social life that revolves around her older brother, Luke, and Sara, her best friend from college. But Willow’s carefully constructed world begins to unravel after she volunteers to help immigrant girls seeking asylum, fighting a losing battle against their extradition along with Macon, a handsome French lawyer who becomes her boyfriend. When Luke can’t shake a perplexing illness and Willow complies with a dangerous request from one of her young charges, Willow stands to lose everything. It’s a gripping read that perfectly captures the zeitgeist of 1980s Paris.