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City of Dreams (The Paris Chronicles Book 1) by [Steel, Harriet]
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City of Dreams (The Paris Chronicles Book 1) Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in The Paris Chronicles (2 Book Series)

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Length: 348 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled

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Product description

About the Author

My interests in history and art and my love of writing come together in my novels. City of Dreams is my third and it was inspired by the paintings of Jean Renoir. Paris is a city I adore, and I've always found his depiction of life there in his day evocative and fascinating. I'm married with grown-up daughters and I live in Surrey, England. Although it's close to London, Surrey's a beautiful, remarkably rural county with lots of quaint old villages and lovely walks. I try to do as many of those as possible to counteract the effects of sitting around writing for the rest of the time! I love to hear from readers so do look me up on Twitter @harrietsteel1 or on Facebook. I blog at http://harrietsteel.blogspot.co.uk/ where you'll find articles and news.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1134 KB
  • Print Length: 348 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00JUSQWMS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #6,854 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
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Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top customer reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Anna is a fascinating heroine. I felt sorry for her as she was tossed from riches to rags and forced to make some difficult choices. Her resilience is admirable. Paris is one of my favourite cities, and Harriet Steel took me there. I loved the richness of the background and the array of interesting characters. When I read a historical novel, I want to go back into the past, to “live” alongside the protagonists and to learn about a period of history I knew little about. “City of Dreams” ticked all the right boxes for me. I look forward to reading more of Harriet Steel’s work in the future.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"City of Dreams" shows vividly how dreams can be shattered: Anna's dream of life in the French capital falls apart when she is abandoned by the man who carries her away from Russia; and the Second Republic's dream of Paris as the glittering city of lights is crushed by the bloodshed and destruction of the Franc-Prussian War and the rise and fall of the Commune. A memorable portrait of a woman who clings to hope even as the people and places she knows and loves fall victim to the cruelty of the world.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Paris during the 1860s and a young Russian bride arrives in the world's most glamorous and exciting city looking forward to a new life. When her French husband disappears leaving her alone and penniless she is forced into some difficult choices.

Well written and researched historical fiction.

A vibrant and atmospheric tale.
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Format: Kindle Edition
City of Dreams follows Anna, a Russian who moves to Paris on the verge of the 1865 Franco-Prussian war. Early in the story she falls from riches to rags, in a way reminiscent of Fantine from Les Miserables, though Anna’s starting point is higher and her decline not so disastrous. After a brief period in comparative poverty, Anna finds a comfortable career as mistress to a selection of wealthy men. The war ushers in a troubled period for the city and occupants.

The recounting of the history was more compelling than the personal drama. Harriet comments that the Franco-Prussian war is somewhat overlooked, I certainly knew little about it, and the only familiar event was the eating of zoo animals during the siege. The description of the progress of the war was illuminating.

The author invites us to draw parallels between Anna and émigré brides of today, with all the potential for social dislocation and dismissal. She also enables us to share an outsider’s view of France. However, I found it difficult to engage with Anna, and the city at large was the more vivid character.

Readers looking for nineteenth-century stories away from the obvious Napoleonic or British Empire settings might enjoy City of Dreams. It is, however, hard to classify. Although touching on battles, it is not a war book. There are sexual elements, but it is not a romance. It is, I think, best read as a reflection of Paris herself.

Technically the book was well turned out; proofreading was thorough. A few chapters ended with a couple of lines slipping onto a new page; a final edit would easily correct these.
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Format: Kindle Edition
The story opens in St Petersburg in 1864 as seventeen year old Anna, the daughter of a prosperous Russian furrier, is swept off her feet in a whirlwind romance with the attractive and elegant Frenchman, Emile Daubigny. In joyful anticipation, Anna leaves her family in St Petersburg and enters married life in the glorious city of Paris, where she expects to have a comfortable and affluent lifestyle amongst the great and the good of this enchanting city. However, Anna’s circumstances change dramatically when her husband Emile mysteriously disappears leaving her both homeless and penniless. As a woman alone, in a man’s world, Anna soon discovers that she has limited choices, and as the Franco-Prussian war looms, Anna must do whatever she can to survive. In a skilful blending of fact and fiction, Anna’s story is told against the back drop of a city in turmoil, the Franco-Prussian war encroaches, not just on the way in which the city of Paris went about its daily business, but it also demonstrated the fact that lone women would be always be considered to be at the mercy of powerful men.

The narrative is nicely written with a fine eye for detail and the author’s obvious love of history and skill at historical research shines throughout the story, so much so, the era really does come alive. The majestic splendour of sharing company with the Emperor Napoleon III during a rendition of La Belle Hélène at the opera house, and of chance encounters with Alexandre Dumas during intimate suppers at the Moulin Rouge, sit quite comfortably against the more colourful and lively description of washday in one of the city’s more salubrious washing sheds. The juxtaposition of vast wealth is counteracted against the descriptions of lives which are affected just as deeply by poverty and squalor.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Harriet Steel has created a wonderful tale that takes the reader straight into the world of Anna, a young Russian girl of the 1860s. The atmosphere and setting are compelling and fascinating, as Anna moves from her sheltered life in a wealthy Russian family to life in fashionable Paris with her newly married husband. It’s an exciting adventure for Anna to begin with, but her life soon spirals into betrayal and poverty so fast, she has no idea how to cope or survive. However, Anna is resourceful and clever, but women in her situation are in desperate straits. We follow her progress through life, the war between France and Prussia, and the many ups and downs of Anna’s courageous progress.
I loved this book. It has such depth of character and history so well woven together. I’m very much looking forward to book 2 in the series, ‘Following The Dream’.
If you’re looking for an historical novel that will compel you to keep reading, this is the one to choose!
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