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  • Paris
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on 26 November 2013
Really not one of his finest. In his early novels there was a straightforward progression of the chronology from the far distant past to some roughly contemporary point. By the time you'd read four or five the style was practically a cliche but it was an effective storytelling method. This one doesn't progress in that way, it opens in the late 19th century wanders around in that period for a while and then shoots back to medieval Paris and then back to the 19th c and repeat.....till the reader has lost the plot. Most of the focus is on the period from the 19th C onwards with a big chunk in WWII (which is the same Paris in WWII that any number of other authors have done much better. I wonder if the publishers forced him to add the other time line just to ensure that the St Bartholomew's Day massacre and the revolution were included...? I don't really understand why he has done this style change, Paris has a rich and fascinating history which would have ideally suited his original approach, which is narrative history with the characters being used to illuminate key events & periods. The characters are too thin & stereotypical to standalone; tart with the heart, aristo with attitude, hardworking artisan zzzz. The plots such as they are are equally thin and hackneyed. In its defence it rolls past the eyes as an undemanding read and the occasional interesting nugget of information just about kept me going through the 800 pages. Probably a good read whilst digesting a christmas dinner or whilst riding out a winter germ but otherwise I'd read his earlier stuff; Sarum, London, The Forest and leave this well alone.
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on 16 April 2017
I have previously read New York and London, both of which had a thoroghly enjoyable thread running through it with many wonderful sideshoot stories to keep you well entertained. I loved them.
So, I thought I would give Paris a go.....For starters I was a little concerned that the story kept jumping back and foward from the 15/1600s to the 1800s working it's way up to the 1950s or so. So many characters distributed over the centuries obviously generation linked but as you were time hoppjng it was difficult to remember who was who..
As with his other works some facinating historic items were included with wonderful detail. But along with all this toooooo much deep historical comment and far too much family history and socio-political indepth narative. Very tedious in places but not skipable.
Sorry Edward not one of your best but I did continue to the end.!!
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on 23 March 2017
All the ingredients that make his other books compelling reads are present here but he's managed to mess things up by focusing so much of the book on one historical period - the late 19th / early 20th century. To break up this story he decided to have a non-linear timeline so we are bounced around different periods in history. It doesn't work.

The "modern" part of the story is generally rather dull with the exception of the story of the building of the Eiffel Tower. The real delights in the book are all in the older historical sections for example the account of the The St. Bartholomew's Day massacre is wonderful.
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VINE VOICEon 25 December 2017
The main character here is Paris which is revealed through a criss-crossing of historical events. Whilst the author has created a number of fictional families to hang his stories on these are like models showing haute culture. I did n' t really connect with them as I read the surfaces of their lives. This novel does achieve its ambition as it intertwines the political, religious and cultural influences which have created the character of Paris.
I found the building of its iconic Eiffel Tower fascinating.
I dropped a star because I found myself too willing to put the book down, it was only my connection with Paris that brought me back.
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on 22 March 2018
I have read and enjoyed all Edward Rutherfords books to date and Paris was certainly no exception. In fact I would say it is definitely one of his best. The characters - including the fictitious ones - are all very real and believable, and even when different people share the same name - Roland for example - the quality of writing made each easily distinguishable from another.

I also liked the way the different times were mixed - time slips, flash backs, whichever way you want to describe it. I felt it kept the whole story fresh and alive and definitely added cto the interest. Unlike so many lightweight books today that are only fit to be read once, all Edward Rutherfords books are worth reading many times and if anything are even better the second time round.

Thank you Mr Rutherford for some amazing books. I'm looking forward to reading China, and many more after that.
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on 28 December 2016
A huge undertaking to depict the history of Paris. It's growth to a place of culture and fashion; for a surprising length of it's existence.
It's past is lovingly created with interesting characters used to tell the past of Paris. But I feel that the modern day parts as the book comes to an end,fizzles out like a damp squib rarther than the fireworks such a grand old Dame deserves. Perhaps a peaceful end was needed?, after the Nazi occupation. My sentimental soul wanted a romantic end ,Paris being the capital of love ; that's all.
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on 15 March 2017
I REALLY tried to persist with reading this book and I was enjoying it up to a certain point........... but spread over 600 or so years is just too much, too many words and too much detail I was actually reading this in the run up to a trip to Paris. I started it in January and now it's March. I got about half way but couldn't bear to read any more. I just got sick of nothing much happening after 400-odd pages. Sorry. I couldn't do it any more! My plan was to beat the 23 books I read last year by trying to read 35 this year. I'd better start downloading some short stories to catch up!
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on 2 February 2015
Rutherford cleverly interweaves fictional historical tales of families placed in all social classes, spanning an enormous time range of about a thousand years. He thus brings alive the history (and geography) of Paris. As far as I can judge, most or all of what he writes is historically accurate and well-researched. And certainly, this is a very good way of getting history to stick in memory, by painting vivid word pictures rather than drily listing facts and data. There is nothing to fault in his colourful story-telling: the book can certainly be called well-written.

So why only three stars? Well, mostly the quality of the tales he weaves is about the quality of tales I used to make up on the spot for my children: highly contrived, stereotyped, not entirely convincing. But maybe I am being too critical? After all, he clearly intends to create prototypes, or stereotypes, characters who were exemplars of their time and social status.

In summary: this book certainly brings lots of Parisian history home to the reader. And it is an easy if long read, great for a long-distance flight or a post-operative stay in hospital. Expect great popular history, but not exactly great literature. In spite of wavering towards four stars, I think that ultimately, three will suffice.
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on 9 February 2017
Having read and throughly enjoyed London, I didn't hesitate to purchase Paris by the same author. And I wasn't disappointed. His narrative fiction is based on so much historical fact (plus just a couple of indulgent deviations - see the acknowledgements) that I was able to learn so much about this beloved city.
I was a little thrown by the fact that this didn't follow in chronological order but jumped through the centuries a little, but soon got the hang of it all and made the family connections. The final few chapters were quite gripping.
I really need to revisit Paris again armed with my newly found knowledge of its history...
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on 8 January 2017
This is a terrific book covering French history in a most entertaining way. Paris comes alive through four families and the many centuries they lived in. I know Paris well and this was a wonderful tour through all the familiar areas yet I learned such a lot. The building of the Eiffel tour stands out, but so does Versailles, oh, and , and........Just read it. It's long and satisfying.
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