Elaine Sciolino, the former Paris bureau chief of The New York Times, invites us on a tour of her favorite Parisian street, offering an homage to street life and the pleasures of Parisian living. While many cities suffer from the leveling effects of globalization, the rue des Martyrs maintains its distinct allure. On this street, the patron saint of France was beheaded and the Jesuits took their first vows. It was here that Edgar Degas and Pierre-Auguste Renoir painted circus acrobats, Emile Zola situated a lesbian dinner club in his novel Nana, and François Truffaut filmed scenes from The 400 Blows. Sciolino reveals the charms and idiosyncrasies of this street and its longtime residents - the Tunisian greengrocer, the husband-and-wife cheesemongers, the showman who's been running a transvestite cabaret for more than half a century, the owner of a 100-year-old bookstore, the woman who repairs 18th-century mercury barometers - bringing Paris alive in all of its unique majesty. The Only Street in Paris will make listeners hungry for Paris, for cheese and wine, and for the kind of street life that is all too quickly disappearing.
©2016 Elaine Sciolino (P)2015 Tantor
"The atmosphere on rue des Martyrs is refreshing and enticing in our modern world." (Library Journal)
This is a great book for people who enjoy history, Paris and live somewhere other than where they come from.
It reminds of how people use to know everyone on their street. In this day and age people seem to hardly know the people they live with much less people on their street.
I will be visiting this street the next time in Paris.
Mentally in Paris
The narrator's sing-song delivery detracts from the story and distracts the listener. It's a quaint story about a historical street in Paris, but the narrator is teeth clenchingly awful
This is a fascinating glimpse into a wonderful area of Paris. It is unfortunate the author did not engage a professional reader who could have done justice to her work.
I listened all the way through, but I was continually uncompelled and uninspired. It felt a lot like a high school English paper with a smattering of random facts, sometimes offered in great excess with not enough of a story to bind it all together, nor with sufficient flow. Although I don't drink this could make for a lethal drinking game. Simply take a shot every time Rue Des Martyrs is said. Spoiler alert, you'll be completely inebriated every few pages.
It's clear that the author loves this street and is genuinely interested in its history and people, but it just never got interesting for me. I had to slog through every bit of it. There were vast sections of facts that just weren't enjoyable to listen to. My more well-read significant other said "wow, this is quite self-indulgent" and also "why do you hate yourself?" when I said that I had to finish it. The book does seem self-indulgent, though I deny self-hatred as the basis for finishing the book. I was hoping to broaden my audio book horizons. I committed to the full experience. For me it was far too unstimulating.
Author should stay in her field - writing - and let someone with a decent voice and delivery handle the audio. I wonder, do writers who badly record their own books do so because it is more money for them? Is it ego? In any case, I just don't understand why the publisher didn't step in and say "Stop! You are ruining your own work!" I think this audiobook could have been quite interesting but I just could not stand the awful reading.
Not particularly. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I'd read the book than listened to it as an audio book.
I mean, it's Paris. So it's going to be at least somewhat enchanting. And the author conveyed those aspects adequately, albeit in a somewhat flat, journalistic style. I did enjoy "meeting" the residents of the Rue des Martyrs, and getting a bit of a guided tour of the sights. Like a vacation without leaving my armchair. But some of the book felt overly self-indulgent. For example, the extended narration of the author's attempts to get the pope to come to the Rue des Martyrs, which I thought was dull and sort of off-topic. And there was a lot of name-dropping, which I found distasteful.
Did you ever take a class in college where the professor stood at the podium at the front of the room, opened her/his notebook, and read her/his notes out loud to the class? With no attempt to make it sounds like s/he wasn't just repeating the words s/he had written down? And you got so bored you took up knitting just to have something to occupy your brain besides the professor's monotonous droning? That's what the narration was like.
Not really. There are plenty of books about Paris, and I didn't really feel like this one brought anything new to the table. Plus, the author seemed to be stretching for things to talk about by the end. I think one and done is appropriate here.
I've never written an audible review before, but I was so disappointed with the narration of this book, I felt I owed it to my fellow listeners to warn them. If you're interested in this book, get a print copy and read it the old-fashioned way.
Author admirably shared colorful descriptions of the inhabitants of her neighborhood. Listened while puttering around house in the evenings. Easy listening. 4/5 stars.
Also an MAHS alumni
Not really. This is after all a story of a street in Paris - which should hold a wealth of STORY - but alas - it may be due in part that its author is also its narrator - it's just not well conveyed or delivered.
I have not listened to Ms. Sciolino prior to this book.
Shame really - Paris is filled with wonders!
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