BY KRISTINA HOUCK
For nearly 70 years, an apartment in Paris sat untouched. The home was filled with items hidden away for generations, including a painting by an Italian master, until an auctioneer discovered the locked time capsule in 2010.
The real-life Parisian flat of Marthe de Florian inspired Del Mar native Michelle Gable’s first published novel.
“A Paris Apartment” follows a fictional Sotheby’s auctioneer named April Vogt who travels to Paris to assess the items in the apartment.
Gable spent about four months researching the apartment and time period before writing the book. She learned de Florian left her home and its contents to an heir. The heir locked up the apartment, moved to the south of France and kept paying the bills until her death.
“There’s not a lot known about the actual circumstances of the apartment — why she locked it, why she left, who received the money from the sale of the estate,” said Gable, who grew up in Del Mar and graduated from Torrey Pines High School. Her parents still live in the coastal community. “The research I did was more along the lines of the time period.”
Now living in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Gable earned a degree in accounting from the College of William and Mary in Virginia. For 18 years, she has worked in finance. But writing has always been her second passion. Gable recalled writing stories as a young child and taking creative writing classes in college.
“What I like about accounting is the balance. The numbers tell a story. They come together and make sense,” she said. “You have to do the same with writing.”
When she wasn’t working with numbers, Gable worked with words. She eventually wrote her first novel and hired an agent. Although her first novel about the aftermath of a plane crash wasn’t picked up, Gable was inspired to write another story when her agent sent her a news article about a Paris apartment that had been abandoned for nearly 70 years.
“The pictures that were in the article were amazing,” Gable said. “It was very haunting. It seemed crazy that somebody would lock it for all those years.”
Gable is currently in the middle of a book tour and will be speaking and signing copies of “A Paris Apartment” at 6:30 p.m. June 5 at the Del Mar Library and at 1 p.m. June 8 at Barnes & Noble in Encinitas.
“I hope it’s an escape for people — that’s what I tried to do,” Gable said. “It’s serious enough so people who want a heavier read will enjoy it, but it’s also, hopefully, enough of an escape that you can sit and read it in one sitting or at the beach. I want people to get sucked up in that world like I did.”
Published by Thomas Dunne Books for St. Martin’s Press, “A Paris Apartment” is available online on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Indie Bound.
For more information about Gable and “A Paris Apartment,” visit michellegable.com.