I’ve been back to books lately, which is a wonderful thing, after the big 2014/2015 hangover due to insane amounts of A song of ice and fire (seriously, those books have ruined my life… I’ve been suffering from cold turkey-ism ever since I’ve put them down and seem unable to think of anything else but the upcoming Winds of Winter).
And my latest read was:
Mr. Rutherfurd takes us on a tour to the City of Light. Goodreads, tell them like it is:
‘From the grand master of the historical novel comes a dazzling epic portrait of Paris that leaps through centuries as it weaves the tales of families whose fates are forever entwined with the City of Light. As he did so brilliantly in London: The Novel and New York: The Novel, Edward Rutherfurd brings to life the most magical city in the world: Paris. This breathtaking multigenerational saga takes readers on a journey through thousands of years of glorious Parisian history.‘
While Mr. Rutherfurd is no Ken Follett (see Fall of Giants and remaining books from The Century trilogy), he does take us on a trip that spans from the Middle Ages to 1968, through the eyes of several Parisian families. We have our aristocrats, street rats, bourgeois, hard-working people… All sorts that make a city what it is, from the gilded splendour to the questionable and shady places where one should not dare to enter.
He does not do it majestically, but he is able to pull one into the story, as the decades and centuries unfold and he manages to entwine real historical characters with the ones he has created.
I don’t know about real life Parisians but, from my experience as an archaeologist and historian, people tend to only have a few (sometimes fuzzy) notions of local History. And yet, it seems all characters from the book majored in Parisian History (not really complaining. I think people should know a lot more about the past of their surroundings). Makes one think they should be hired for tour guides, or something.
And, as much as I imagine the French swooning over haricots verts (hell, I love green beans!), I don’t think they would eat them at every single meal… Do they? I have no clue…
But, I’ve learned a few things, which is always nice and I’ve read the entire book with somewhat of a French accent and a simultaneous translation going on in my head. Tiring stuff!
My favourite part? World War II. All the characters had a chance to bloom in occupied Paris. Creepy nazis…
So, all in all, I shoud give it 3,5 stars out of 5.
I believe I will take on another one of your epic works, Mr. Rutherford, thank you very much!