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City of Light Paperback – August 26, 2003
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But this offers only the barest idea of Belfer's complex grid. In 500 fast pages, she creates a fascinating, disquieting world in which nothing is what it seems. As Louisa battles against her instinct for self-preservation, her past--particularly a vile encounter with the corpulent Grover Cleveland--threatens to undermine her carefully created persona and loose her greatest secret. Looking back on the events of 1901 from the safety (and disappointment) of 1909, Louisa is the most astringent and intriguing of narrators. To Lauren Belfer's endless credit, City of Light is panoramic, subtle, and very physical. In her first novel, she makes us feel the rush of water, the thrill of light, the snap, crackle, and pop of social tension, and--alas for Louisa--the despair of tragic inevitability. --Sophie Atherton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Ms. Barret, the protagonist, narrator, and headmistress of the Macauley School in Buffalo (based on the Buffalo Seminary School for girls) leads us through the maze of her charges at school, her goddaughter, a murder mystery, the invention and propagation of electricity, etc... all against the backdrop of the falls (Niagra Falls, of course). We see everything through her eyes: the conventions of the day, the politics, the intrigue, the mystery. I didn't solve the central mysteries, but that's not to say other more mystery oriented readers might not. The point is that this novel is well paced, well rendered and extremely readable. Absorbing actually would be a better way to describe it. The characters are based in many cases on real historical characters. Once you read this book, I guarantee you'll never look at Grover Cleveland the same way.
It's hard to believe that this is the author's first novel. She weaves a well-researched and authentic tale that will keep you up late into the evening trying to tie together all the loose ends.
This densely plotted novel captures the waning days of the Victorian era and the birth pangs of modern industrial America. The deft combination of personal stories, physical description, and details of industrial development, with real historical figures and events woven in, provides a satisfying picture of the brief time in which Buffalo was the most celebrated city in America. Belfer captures the essence of this city flush with wealth and a seemingly boundless future, and shows us how that future could not have possibly been sustained, how it contained the seeds of its own tragic ending.
The book has a particularly "Buffalo" resonance to me. Ghosts of the city's wealthy past are everywhere, from mansion-lined streets that now house nonprofits to shuttered factories that have sat vacant for 30 or more years.Read more ›
This novel was far too long, saying in over 500 pages what could have been more succinctly yet still beautifully written in about 300. The main culprit in this case was the meandering descriptions, similar to those found in 19th century novels.
There were too many plot twists and characters to make for easy remembering. The entire scenario regarding the power station lost me, quite frankly, in its rather dramatic devices. Too many characters spoil the storytelling broth.
As far as the mystery part of the book, let me simply say that sometimes less is more. And the "final answer" need not be quite so common! Characters can be neatly disposed of in more than one way.
The main character, Louisa Barrett, drove me nuts with her overly dramatic pronouncements, her sanctimony, and her spinelessness when it came to anyone else, or any other issue, than her Macauley girls. I stopped rooting for her less than a third of the way through.
The characterizations overall were interesting, however, and the view into lives other than those of the rich and white was very welcome. I adore anything to do with the turn of the century, and 1901 Buffalo was meticulously depicted, which rendered it quite real to me. Bravo on the exhaustive research done on that era.
I will likely read another book by Lauren Belfer, in hopes that as she comes into her literary voice, her writing will grow sharper and more lucid.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Having been born and raised and still living in the Buffalo area, I found it especially interesting as I recognized names and places, plus the story was very interesting and I... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Carol
Just like the praising words on the cover of the mass market paperback: this book is suspenseful and gripping, if not a bit pedantic sometimes. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Sen Peng Eu
Very well written and interesting on many levels. History, mystery and great characters make for a great read.Published 4 months ago by jo pipher