From the grand master of the historical novel comes a dazzling, epic portrait of the City of Light.
Internationally best-selling author Edward Rutherfurd has enchanted millions of readers with his sweeping, multigenerational dramas that illuminate the great achievements and travails throughout history. In this breathtaking saga of love, war, art, and intrigue, Rutherfurd has set his sights on the most magnificent city in the world: Paris.
Moving back and forth in time across centuries, the story unfolds through intimate and vivid tales of self-discovery, divided loyalties, passion, and long-kept secrets of characters both fictional and real, all set against the backdrop of the glorious city - from the building of Notre Dame to the dangerous machinations of Cardinal Richlieu; from the glittering court of Versailles to the violence of the French Revolution and the Paris Commune; from the hedonism of the Belle Époque, the heyday of the impressionists, to the tragedy of the First World War; from the 1920s when the writers of the Lost Generation could be found drinking at Les Deux Magots to the Nazi occupation, the heroic efforts of the French Resistance, and the 1968 student revolt.
With his unrivaled blend of impeccable research and narrative verve, Rutherfurd weaves an extraordinary narrative tapestry that captures all the glory of Paris. More richly detailed, more thrilling, and more romantic then anything Rutherfurd has written before, Paris: The Novel wonderfully illuminates hundreds of years in the City of Light and Love and brings the sights, scents, and tastes of Paris to sumptuous life.
I was actually dreading listening to this, imagining a long, drawn-out historical novel, crammed with mind-numbing facts. I used to spend several months a year in my favorite city in the world, and thought I had gotten to know it quite well--much better than the typical tourist fare. I had lived there as a Parisian. But, was I in for a surprise!
I wish there was a way to give this more than 5 stars--it deserves it! It is the most absorbing way to learn how Paris became the Paris of today, and what makes up the blood, sentiments, politics and fierce libertarians Parisians are today. This is an incredible story, spanning centuries, and allowing you to live, feel and love the way Parisians did at any given point in its incredible history. Their resilience and pride rarely faltered, and were well-won. Peeling off the layers upon layers of rich tradition and strife allows you and unparalleled insight into the Parisian spirit. Their liberties were always challenged, and winning them was hard fought. Their rule was an experimentation of most types of government, from monarchy to conquerers to religious atrocities to communism. The people always triumphed, and their deeply rooted sense of fairness in all matters shines through.
Their perspectives on honor, love, romance, work ethic and loyalty are epic, and somehow created the country that gave us our symbol of freedom, the Statue of Liberty. It is beyond fascinating to discover the intricacies of how the huge structure was built to endure. The same is true of perhaps the most famous structure in the world, the Eiffel Tower. The engineering was incredible, as was the courage of the workers who, eventually, on their own, stopped the Nazis from ever ascending to its top.
I was devastated when the book finally ended; the many parts sped by, and my education about the development of Paris through the ages grew painlessly, and quite enjoyably. It is a delight to hear; and, whether a Francophile or anyone who just wants a great story, this is something you will not want to pass up. It is an awesome and thoroughly enjoyable listen.
16 of 16 people found this review helpful
I have eagerly awaited this book for months--as I have been a great fan of Edward Rutherfurd's other books for many years! This one definitely does not disappoint in any way. It is written with the epic scope of all his other books, although he did not imaginatively stretch as far back in history as he has done with some others (and I did wonder why, since it would have been quite interesting to hear more about the Parisii tribe, which lent it's name to Paris).
The beauty of this book is that even while there is a train of stories of several families (interspersed with some actual historical people) who intertwine and provide continuity to the reader from the period of 1261 to 1968, it is Paris itself, who is always the main character in this book!
In his book "Sarum," Rutherfurd used the building of the Salisbury Cathedral--a magnificent tribute to God with it's soaring spire, as it exemplified the changing and developing religious values of England during that period as a background to his story. In "Paris," he uses the building of la Tour Eiffel (Eiffel Tower) as the grounding point for the book. It seems to me that this tall structure (shocking to many when built), points to the changing times and mindset of the French people in the more modern Paris, moving away from traditional structures and ways of viewing the world. Throughout the book, Rutherfurd patiently creates the sense of strong tradition of social rules and expectations everywhere in French society. The building of this new sort of lofty tower (and his focus on the impressionist painters), both of which visibly break from everyone's expectations, seem to parallel the astonishing changes experienced by everyone as the old social structures and government begin to alter so radically in every way in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Rutherfurd has done his usual masterful job of meticulous research, and it is often the tiny details that bring the reader directly into the city, feeling almost an inhabitant of the times he focuses on. The three main families who evolve through the book depict aristocrats, the bourgeoisie, and thieves who eventually turn into revolutionaries. It is typical of Rutherfurd to keep the same families in his books, which provides continuity for the reader who is moving through huge passages of history. Unlike other books, however, these families seem never to change in their social positions. However, Paris itself does move and change (or it feels that way) as the fortunes of the times (wars, religious disputes, changes of royal power, the shift to new kinds of government, etc) seem to create new ways of experiencing what it means to live in this great city.
The narrator has done a magnificent job--her ability to give varying voices to an enormous cast of characters is exceptional! Her voice quality is very engaging for the entire book. "Paris" is all that I had hoped for and more. I love Paris (the city)--and I could mentally see many of the places that were being focused on throughout the city. And I found that at times, I looked up some of the places (like Versailles, Montmartre, etc), on my tablet--to better visualize the parts of this magnificent story under focus, which made it almost like being back there again. I highly recommend this book! But give yourself plenty of time to listen to it, as it is quite long, and packed with so many details--that I am already planning to listen again (and again). Thank you Mr. Rutherfurd!
46 of 49 people found this review helpful
[Why not ignore that awesome stalker just waiting, finger poised over the *no* help button?]
After this enjoyable experience, I intend to look up other books by this author. Rutherfurd did an admirable job condensing 700 plus years of history, from several different class perspectives, in Paris: The Novel--although "condensing" may seem an odd word to use when referring to an almost 39 hour book. But the information is as significant and as impressive as the book's girth.The tangled machinations of politics, religion, social position, etc., was intriguing, given added color by the personalities entwined in the years of rich history. The timelines that crossed America's progression with where Paris was at a particular place in it's historic march fascinated me, reminding me that we are a young country in comparison. The embellished dialogue sometimes seemed staged to facilitate passages of information, as is often the case with this kind of historical fiction (an great-aunt takes her very young children on a Sunday afternoon stroll, giving quite a lengthy discourse on the history of the Louvre, or Notre Dame) but so much information is given that I enjoyed these episodes (that reminded me a little of following the knowledgeable group-guide with the flag). With such an abundance of information, I'm sure that even the most erudite Francophiles will be enlightened.
*Please allow me: To you who follow certain reviewers just for the sole purpose to vote no after reading their reviews, usually before even reading them at all...just stop reading them; follow someone else; write your own freaking reviews that enlightens us all as to what IS helpful; gut-up. There are reviewers that don't write anymore and now I understand why. Keep some dignity and class in this "community". "Mean people suck." ( I'd give that statement a *yes this was helpful.*)
193 of 209 people found this review helpful
This is certainly a long story with quite a bit of history woven into the tale. Unfortunately it jumps from era to era and then back again. So, it's very hard, for me anyway, to remember how each person is related. I really think I would have enjoyed it more had it stayed in chronological order. The characters might have developed more fully. As it is, i never felt like I was able to develop a relationship with any of the characters because as soon as I would really start to enjoy a character the story jumps. I have not quite finished the story, I have less than 3 hours left on the audio but I'm so bored I cannot wait for it to end.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful
When I bought Paris, I was skeptical - How do you fit millennia of history about one of the greatest cities in the world into forty hours? But with Rutherfurd’s other titles so beloved, I thought I’d give it an hour or two. Those two hours turned me into a believer.
Edward Rutherfurd illuminates pieces of Paris throughout her graceful aging – Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the student uprisings, even the Crusades – and builds a complete camera obscura through the lives of several protagonists: protagonists that I came to care more about in five pages than most authors can convince me to do in entire books.
It turns out what makes the history of a city so interesting is not the changing of the city itself, but the people who carve themselves into it, whether that be tradesmen building the Statue of Liberty or young men of noble lineage who do not deserve the great names bestowed upon them. Jean Gilpin is a smart narrator who never seems to talk down to you, despite any difficulty of the text, and I thoroughly enjoyed her brightening of the picture Rutherfurd has made for us. When you’re looking for something lush and enveloping to lose yourself in, Paris is always a good idea.
29 of 31 people found this review helpful
What would have made Paris better?
I just don't believe this plot format works for an audiobook. The author jumps back and forth between characters and time periods. I had a difficult time remember each story thread, and to be honest it became a chore to try to follow. I finally just gave up.
What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?
I think reading it in print would have made all the difference.
18 of 20 people found this review helpful
I have a special love for historical fiction, and as usual Edward Rutherfurd does not disappoint. He makes Paris come alive.
11 of 12 people found this review helpful
What a huge disappointment! I really missed out. It’s not the book – it’s 100% me.
This is the 3rd Edward Rutherford novel I’ve read and it certainly won’t be the last. He’s a great story teller and I love the concept of his books however PARIS tapped into my biggest book problem: I can’t keep track of that many characters! And unlike the other 2 novels I read: Sarum and New York, because the story is not told in chronological order it just made it impossible for me.
When the time line stayed put I was captivated but after jumping around to different eras, I had already forgotten who was who and what was going on by the time it would come back to the first one. What era was Mary in again? And Max? No clue. Which Monsieur Blanchard was 1600s and which one was 1900s? Search me! I was completely lost and the fact that families keep the same names over the generations was the final nail in coffin.
Reading about The City Of Paris however was terrific. Who doesn’t love Paris? Not only did it bring back lovely vacation memories, but also of other books I’ve read set in Paris:
The story line set in the 1880s regarding the building of the Eiffel Tower and 1889 World Fair reminded me of this book that I highly recommend: Eiffel's Tower: And the World's Fair Where Buffalo Bill Beguiled Paris, the Artists Quarreled, and Thomas Edison Became a Count by Jill Jonnes.
The story line of a young girl working for the Dauphine in Versailles recalled parts of: Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution by Michelle Moran and The Sun King: Louis Fourteenth at Versailles by Nancy Mitford
The Paris of Hemmingway in the 20s reminded me of: The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
All very interesting.
I hope his future publications go back to epics told in chronological order!!! If I had known how much this would have ruined it for me, I would have chopped it up myself and reorganized it chronologically!!
The next Rutherford book I plan to read is London – looking forward to it whenever it becomes available in Audible.
36 of 42 people found this review helpful
Similar to New York, well written, does jump around in time but was able to follow.
9 of 10 people found this review helpful
What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?
I read Sarum, and it was terrific. London, somewhat less. Even Russia was OK. But in this novel, Rutherfurd does not present the story chronologically, and the jumping back and forth makes it difficult to follow.
What could Edward Rutherfurd have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?
Making it is easier to follow would have at least made it tolerable. Jumping forward and back by centuries I found very poor.
What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?
It was a big disappointment.
11 of 13 people found this review helpful