Paris – Edward Rutherfurd

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Hodder & Stoughton Ltd

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My Rating
A fantastique five stars!


I’ve only visited Paris three times and in very different circumstances – once as a 14 year old on a whistle-stop tour of Europe, then again as a university student when I was more interested in Pere Lachaise, Montparnasse and the Flea Markets and finally as a French teacher accompanying pupils on a trip which included Parc Asterix, Eurodisney and the Bateaux Mouches.  I’d love to go back but, in the meantime, I can satisfy my wanderlust with Edward Rutherfurd’s latest tome.

It’s a bit of a monster at 752 pages but this is the norm for Rutherfurd’s epic sagas of different geographical locations. This story revolves around 4 central families ;  the aristocratic de Cygnes, the bourgeois Blanchards, the working class Gascons and the revolutionary/socialist Le Sourds.  I gather that the author’s usual ‘formula’  is to relate epic stories spanning several centuries in a chronological fashion but Paris represents a break with this tradition as it begins in 1875 tending to stick with the events of  late 19th century to mid 20th century but also returns to other centuries beginning with the 13th when Paris intially became France’s first city.  Even though there is a family tree, I found it useful to compile my own diagram detailing family relationships in order to avoid confusion.

I can’t help admiring the author’s skill in structuring such a complex novel.  It’s as if the characters move around a giant chess board with Rutherfurd as Grandmaster!  Yes, there are major coincidences en route and a lot of suspension of disbelief required in certain sections but it really is a beautiful ode to the wonders of Paris and an excellent way to tread the streets of this beautiful city and trace its eventful history without leaving the comfort of your “fauteuil”!  I know it’s a weighty tome and some have recommended purchasing on Kindle to preserve one’s wrists but, if you can ‘bear’ it,  I think this is a book best read the traditional way where you can flick to and fro, reminding yourself of previous events/centuries and consulting the family tree.

A highly recommended easy, engaging read which has made me fall in love with Paris all over again.

Pere Lachaise cemetery
Including graves of Oscar Wilde, Moliere, LaFontaine, Bernhardt, Jim Morrison and the Communards’ Wall

Constructing La Tour Eiffel

You can find out more about Edward Rutherfurd and his other novels on his website here.

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  1. Sam (Tiny Library) says:

    I really want to read something by Rutheford, whether it is this or something different. I’m glad you mentioned that this is an easy read, given how long it is!

  2. Teresa says:

    Sam, I’ve had London TBR for years now. What appealed to me was the fact this only covered 700 years unlike his other books which cover 1000+ years!

  3. Annabel says:

    I don’t read enough chunky novels, but would love to read this one. My father is a fan of his tomes, and has passed his copy of London on to me – but I would prefer to read about Paris…

  4. Helen says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed this! I’ve read all of Rutherfurd’s novels and my favourite is still his first one, Sarum, but this was a great book too. Like you, I now want to visit Paris again!

  5. Teresa says:

    Annabel, I have too many chunksters waiting patiently on my bookshelves. I usually reserve them for Autumn/Winter reading but this one is an anytime kind of read. I think you’d really enjoy it.

  6. Teresa says:

    Helen, I must resolve to read London this year…or should I seek out Sarum instead?? ;-)

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