- Audio CD: 30 pages
- Publisher: Random House Audio; Unabridged edition (April 23, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385359519
- ISBN-13: 978-0385359511
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 2.5 x 5.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1,277 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,429,530 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Paris: The Novel Audio CD – Audiobook, Unabridged
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Essay by Edward Rutherfurd
I was eight when I fell in love with Paris. Though my family was British, we had many French cousins, and that year we all went over to Paris to see them.
There was the magical drive around floodlit Paris; the river trip, the walk down the Champs-Elysees. The smell of Gauloises cigarettes--now gone--and French coffee, the taste of real French cooking, a far cry from the food I knew. I took pictures from the top of the Eiffel Tower, and gazed in rapture at the Napoleonic army of toy soldiers in Les Invalides. And then there was the sound of my cousins speaking French--charming, sensuous, mysterious.
But it was something unexpected that impressed me most.
My French cousin Isabelle was driving me and my father's elderly aunt. By mistake, she made an illegal turn. The police pounced. Isabelle apologized. The policeman was stony-faced. Then Isabelle had an inspiration.
"You see, Monsieur, I was taking my aunt from England for a drive," she explained.
The policeman bent down, looked at the little old lady on the back seat, stood at attention and saluted. "Passez, Madame," he said gallantly.
We've all encountered occasional rudeness in France, but throw yourself on a French person's mercy, and their sense of chivalry usually kicks in. That's the special charm of France.
I stayed with my cousins often after that. One Parisian family lived just up the street from Proust's childhood home, and only yards from where the Statue of Liberty was constructed. Others had an old house in Fontainebleau, with a veranda straight out of a Manet painting, and family stories that went back to Napoleonic times. Others lived near the Bastille, or in Hemingway's Montparnasse, or in the Latin Quarter--wonderfully convenient when, as a teenager, I needed to sneak into the revolutionary riots in 1968. All these places found their way into my novel.
The son of a laborer taught me street-fighting--my background for the Gascon family. I knew an old monarchist priest who still held the French kings sacred; an aristocrat who'd known Chagall, and a virulent Marxist student. I lived with professional families whose shared memories went back to the days of the Belle Epoque and beyond. These were the sources of my characters and stories.
And as a young man, I also fell in love in Paris, with an older woman, which left me with memories of Neuilly when the horse chestnuts are in blossom, and of walks in the Parisian dawn, and an old house with parquet floors that creaked, and the smell of fresh croissants and cafe au lait in the morning.
But if Marcel Proust found the past brought vividly back to life by the taste of a madeleine, I too have a taste and smell to share; of eating frogs legs at the age of eight, and being sick afterwards . . . I still can't bear the smell. I'll stick to the croissants and cafe au lait!
Rutherfurd (London, 1997, and New York, 2009) serves up yet another meaty historical saga centering on a major international city. Since the city in question this time is Paris, the repast is sumptuous indeed. As usual, he sweeps the reader along through the centuries, recounting all the most significant transformative events as the City of Light evolves from its humble origins as a Roman trading post to the cultural epicenter of Western civilization. Utilizing his trademark combination of real-life and fictional characters, he stitches their individual stories and experiences together in order to humanize and personalize the emergence of a mighty metropolis over a period of 2,000 years. As with all great cities, both Paris and its citizens endured their share of setbacks, humiliations, and tragedies, but these necessary growing pains often resulted in substantial rewards. Anyone who has ever visited Paris or desires to do so will definitely want to dig into this movable feast. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Both Paris, the venerable City of Light, and Rutherfurd, the undisputed master of the multigenerational historical saga, shine in this sumptuous urban epic that is sure to be another best-seller for the prolific author. --Margaret Flanagan --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top customer reviews
In the case of his tome entitled Paris: A Novel, Edward Rutherfurd gives us a number of families from various social groups within Paris society and shows the interactions of these groups, mostly within the confines of Paris. We have the de Cynge family, aristocrats and monarchists. We have the Le Sourds who are leftists (communists) and therefore at odds with the de Cynge family. We have the middle class represented by the Renards (Fox) and the Blanchards. Some Renards are lawyers. The Blanchards are doctors and some run retail or wholesale establishments. The Gascons are poor working class people and they have one family member who walks the line between legal and illegal activities frequently crossing over in each direction.
We have the poets and sculptors (especially Monsieur Bartholdi (Statue of Liberty) and Monsieur Eiffel ( Eiffel Tower). Thomas Gascon does skilled labor on each of these enormous structures. We have the painters (especially the Impressionists) and the writers (Proust, Hemingway).
The city itself is a star of the book with its various neighborhoods which eventually become the arrondissements we know today. It took centuries for Paris to coalesce into its modern romantic, atmospheric incarnation and we get to traipse through the various stages of its transformations as we follow our characters and their ancestors, flashing back and forth from fairly contemporary Paris to ages past, as experienced by the ancestors of our more modern characters. It’s a personal and yet fairly in-depth tour of Parisian history that is not in the least pedantic.
I kept trying to stop reading this book – not because it was a bad book - but because I knew it would be long. I kept thinking I wanted to read something shorter and quicker, but I could not stop. I just kept getting sucked in to Paris until suddenly I was done and I didn’t really want to leave. I wanted to be taken out to a bistro. I guess Edward Rutherfurd captured exactly what we should know about social interactions among Parisians and that is why people read his books, especially his books about famous cities (Russka, London, New York).
With its dearth of compound or complex sentences and its quantity of four or five word sentences starting with "And" or "But" or "It," this book is not in the tradition of Hugo, Balzac, Zola, Alastair Horne (whom the author credits) or Graham Robb. In fact, I've heard Mr. Rutherfurd's work referred to as "Paris for Dummies." However, that doesn't mean it isn't fun to read. Yes, there are industrial quantities of learned, informative and detailed books on the Commune, M. Eiffel, the Knights Templar, Hausmannia, Abelard's castration, Ubi sunt poetry, the occupation . . . . . and on and on and on. None-the-less, for one who prefers his/her Paris history light, easy to read and between two covers, this book is just the ticket.
This is a story of a few families in Paris through centuries of time. It was more than 800 pages, but I didn’t get bored at all. Also, I normally get overwhelmed with too many names, but that wasn’t a problem here. The only thing that I didn’t care too much for the book was all the jumping around through time. I would have preferred it had the book been written in more of a chronological order. I especially loved the parts about the building of the Eiffel Tower.
You may like this book if you enjoy historical fiction. I look forward to reading his book on London as well as maybe a few others.
With Paris, my favorite city in the world, he has again created characters who live the hstory. As the reader, you can create a vision of living and interacting in the history of the city as it changes through history. Rutherford is very skilled at connecting his characters as time goes on so that you see a child connected to the child of another character who lived a decade ago. And, you are constantly asking "is she going to marry him?" "What is going to happen between them?" "How will this all turn out?" -- the true sign of a really good writer, in my opinion , and all the time completely connected to actual historical facts. What fun!