Hi there reading friends– I’ve just spent a pleasant week “in Paris,” reading Edward Rutherfurd’s newest titled just that, Paris. If you love historical fiction and the city of Paris both as much as I do you’ll fall for this book too. It’s over 800 pages cover history, geography, culture… from 1261 until 1968. The story lines follow a number of families– the deCynes (proud aristocrats), Le Sourds (perpetual revolutionaries), Gascons (solid labor class) and the Blanchards (rising businessmen) — whose lives over generations are interwoven with the events of Parisian history.
One of my favorite chapters involved Thomas Gascon, steel worker on the Eiffel tower. His conversations with Eiffel reveal the complexities involved in constructing the tower. Paris at war both during WWI and the stories of the brave resistance during the German occupation of WWII were intriguing, peopled by characters both historical and from the families whose characters filled the book. You come across Luis the XIV in Versailles, spend at evening in the Moulin Rouge, sit at a cafe with Hemingway, sympathize with the plight of the Huguenots… Rutherfurd’s meticulous research pays off in a human look at the french history you pick up along the way.
If I have a criticism, it would be that some characters seemed much less developed than others, leaving you wondering… (but could the book have been longer?!). And the chapters jumped from century to century forward and backward, not chronologically as his other books, at times unsettling. Nevertheless, over all, I loved reading through the generations of these families, their sins and their successes. But in the end, the true star of the book is Paris itself, brilliant and always fascinating. I’m wishing I was planning a trip there soon.