Thursday, May 2, 2013

Review: Paris, by Edward Rutherfurd

Paris: The Novel
Paris : City of love. City of revolution.  This thrilling and romantic story opens in La Belle Époque, the golden, hedonistic age of peace and joie de vivre. Moving back and forth in time across centuries, the story unfolds through intimate and vivid tales of self-discovery, divided loyalty, passion, and long-kept secrets both fictional and true, set against the backdrop of the city - from the summit of Montmartre to the gothic towers of Notre Dame to the grand boulevards of Saint-Germain, from the medieval world of saints and scholars to the modern French ideals of liberté, égalité, fraternité. 

The noble family de Cygne have served king and country through the ages, while their ancient enemies the Le Sourds embody the ideals of the French Revolution and the Paris Commune. The two Gascon brothers come from the dangerous slums behind Montmartre, but while Thomas goes to work building the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower, Luc makes a living in the underworld of Pigalle, near the Moulin Rouge. The Blanchards, ruined in the reign of Louis XV, rise again in the age of Napoleon and help establish Paris as the center of art, literature and style that it is today. The American Hadleys, the father a painter, the son a friend of Hemingway, find romance in Paris, while the Jewish Jacob family of art dealers, expelled in the Middle Ages, try to survive in the Second War.

The story of the city is rich indeed: From the days of Notre Dame and the mighty Knights Templar to the expulsion of the Jews;  from the age of heroic Joan of Arc, to cunning Cardinal Richelieu and the bloody conflict between Catholics and Huguenots; from the glittering court of Versailles to the Terror of the French Revolution; from the heyday of the Impressionists to the shame of the Dreyfus Affair, and the tragic mutiny of the First World War; from the 1920s when the writers of the Lost Generation could be found drinking at Les Deux Magots, to the Nazi occupation, and the heroism of the French Resistance.
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: April 23, 2013


Kat's Review

This book is a work of art.  It won't be for everyone, but it has everything needed to become an instant classic.  From the first page it was evident how much research the author had done into the history of France.  The novel is as much a history lesson as it is a sweeping tale that follows the lives of several families over generations.  I love everything to do with France and Paris in particular, and I enjoy historical novels, making this book the perfect read for me. 

I usually devour books quickly.  Not this one.  This is a book to be consumed in small measures.  There is so much historical information and such a large cast of characters that I read this book in doses, allowing each chapter to fully sink in before continuing on to the next.  The author does a wonderful job of capturing the political and social nuances of the different eras, and presenting them to the reader from different perspectives.  There are no clear-cut heroes or victims in the novel.  Characters are complex, as caught up in the chains of the past as they are free to change the future.  It makes for a fascinating read. 

Trying to provide a detailed summary of the story without carrying on for pages is not possible.  The description above should be enough to give the reader an idea of what they're getting into when they pick up this book.  If you are a fan of books by authors like Hilary Mantel or Ken Follett, you will probably enjoy this book. 

Rating: All Consuming

This is the type of book you have to pay attention to, but it's well worth the effort.  I enjoyed it, and although I read an electronic copy, I will be purchasing a hardcover copy to add to my collection. 

I was provided with a complimentary of this book from NetGalley & the publisher in return for an honest review.

1 comment:

  1. I definitely eyed this book up when I saw it on NetGalley, but had to pass. It looks so interesting...but also very, very involved and between work, school, and commitments I just knew I didn't have the amount of time needed for it. I'm so glad you enjoyed it! It does sound like such an interesting, sweeping epic. I will definitely be reading it in the future. Great review!
    -Natalie @ Natflix&Books


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