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City of Dreams (The Paris Chronicles Book 1) Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Set in the lead up to and during the Franco-Prussian war, it's a fast-paced and enjoyable read. The writing is invisible (a type that's surprisingly hard to master), with little in the way of metaphorical ornamentation, but it works well with the first person narrative of Anna herself, and I found that I'd finished the book within a few hours in a single sitting.
I can't speak to the accuracy of the history, but we do see the horror of living through a war, and again through the internal unrest in Paris during the rise and defeat of the Communards.
Anna makes connections and friends in Paris (sometimes a little too easily for my taste, though) that see her through the terrible things she must endure. She might start off the story aa a naive little child-bride, with seemingly barely a thought in her head, but she is quickly thrown into unexpected circumstances that give us her true mettle, and by the end she has matured and taken on something of a grave and quiet responsibility to those who have helped her.
There is romance, but it is not the impetus and is far from cloying. The real focus is not on Anna's romantic entanglements, but on how she develops, and on the network of people she gathers around her. It's a novel more of friendships than love affairs.
I will be looking forward to reading more of Steel's work.
The story opens in St Petersburg in 1864 as seventeen year old Anna, the daughter of a successful Russian furrier, is swept off her feet in a hasty but short-lived romance with an attractive and elegant Frenchman, Emile Daubigny. In joyful eagerness, Anna leaves her family in St. Petersburg and enters married life just shy of her 18th birthday, in the lovely city of Paris. She expects to have a comfortable and upscale lifestyle amongst the great and the powerful of this enchanting city. However, Anna’s circumstances change drastically when her husband, Emile, mysteriously disappears leaving her both homeless and penniless. As a woman alone in a man’s world, Anna soon discovers that she has very limited choices. As the Franco-Prussian war looms, Anna must do whatever she can to survive.
In a skillful blending of fact and fiction, Anna’s story is told against the back drop of a city in turmoil. As the Franco-Prussian war encroaches, we see not just the way in which the city of Paris went about its daily business, but it also vividly shows the fact that a lone women would always be considered to be at the mercy of powerful men. A GREAT READ!!!
Harriet Steel's historical novel unfolds at a leisurely pace, meandering through equally tragic and pleasant scenes with characters that feel authentic in their environment. The pain and sacrifices of war bleed onto the page. My impression is that the protagonist has more than a touch of Scarlett O'Hara in her, suffering and then moving along to the next shoulder to lean on.