Paris by Edward Rutherfurd

Paris by Edward Rutherfurd

At two inches thick, Edward Rutherfurd’s Paris feels like a traditional, epic novel. However, if you’re new to the work of this British-born writer, as I am, you soon learn that this isn’t a traditional story. Paris takes you from the moment when Julius Caesar first saw the spot that the Parisii tribe called home, to the student riots around the Sorbonne in 1968. But Rutherfurd, who’s a master at what are known as ‘multi-generational dramas’ doesn’t follow events chronologically, instead choosing to constantly move around this most epic of timelines.

The first few pages (out of 731) provide family trees and maps of Paris, planting history and geography at the heart of the book, and setting the scene for the mainly factual drama that Rutherfurd brings to life. Four families from across Parisian society – workers to noblemen – lead you through the story of this great city. From the building of Notre Dame and the golden age of the Belle Époque, to the heroes of the French Resistance and the student uprisings of 1968. The book’s strength comes from Rutherfurd’s meticulous research. Every street name is real and each detail precise, which will certainly provide anyone who loves Paris with pleasingly new insights into the true story of the City of Light.

Paris by Edward Rutherfurd. Doubleday (April 23, 2013) $32.50

Originally published in the August-September 2013 issue of France Today


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