I Never Saw Paris
Harry I. Freund
Carroll & Graf, Aug 2007, $23.00
In Manhattan, four people wait on the sidewalk for chance to cross Park Ave when a car jumps the curb killing each of them and the driver. The group of strangers consists of sexagenarian businessman Irving Caldman, fifty something personal shopper for the wealthy Clarissa Bowen; grandmother Essie Mae Rowder employed as a housemaid; twentyish interior decorator Brett Taylor; and the driver Mendel Perlow who survived the holocaust to own a New York candy store.
Malakh welcomes the group at a heavenly rest stop where he prepares the quintet for their upcoming worthiness before the Judge of the Universe. He orders each to share their life history with the others. At first none of the five are comfortable revealing their inner most fears and desires, but over the course of bickering and fighting, each opens up revealing good and bad memories as a camaraderie forms.
This is a fabulous parable with an interesting spin on how heaven works and what it takes to get there as deeds count. The story line focuses on all five recently deceased mortals with Irving as the prime player with his dry assertion that he never saw Paris nor will he at least in that lifetime. Readers will appreciate Harry I. Freund’s insightful look at five strangers going through the stages of a group (Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Terminating as Malakh moves them on) while also the stages of grief for those they left behind.