32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Paris is the main character in this absorbing book,
This review is from: Paris (Hardcover)
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I've never read any of Edward Rutherford's books but I enjoyed this very much. There is a real sense of history in the text, not necessarily in terms of big events which are, sometimes, missing - but in terms of the way the city of Paris itself both evolves and yet is ever-present as a character in its own right.
Unlike the other books which, I understand, follow a strictly chronological time-line, this has one strand which takes us from 1875-1940, then another which dips in and out of prior history at certain points: 1261, 1462, 1572 and so on. The epilogue is set in 1968.
I liked that Rutherford doesn't always choose the obvious moments - the French Revolution in 1789, the siege of Paris in 1870-71 - but allows them to happen in the background and have an impact on each present moment. At the same time, some key stories do have their place: the Dreyfus affair, the expulsion of the Jews, the arrest of the Templars, the building of the Eiffel Tower.
Inevitably in this kind of historical narrative people have unbelievable conversations in order to inform the reader. So there are quite a few exchanges like this: ` "Did you know that the original Louvre was just a small medieval fort guarding the river?" his father enquired casually. "Yes," Roland replied. "It was just outside the old city wall of King Philippe Auguste."'
But small narrative niggles and historical hindsight apart, this is a huge and hugely enjoyable book. Rutherford has marshalled his research very well to make it digestible, and also allows us to view events through sometimes unexpected eyes.
So whether you're an expert in French history or know little about it, this is an accessible and absorbing read. Recommended.
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Initial post: 21 Jul 2013, 21:30:17 BST
I highly recommend that you read some of his other books now. This one is great but not his best. Sarum, Russka and London are his epic books!
In reply to an earlier post on 7 Apr 2014, 07:38:00 BST
I agree. Sarum was the best for me. Fantastic. But I haven't bought Paris yet and am sitting on the fence with this one. I found New York boring beyond words and couldn't finish it.
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