Like Rutherfurd’s other chronicles of place, Paris reaches into history and follows several families as they are affected by the changes that occur in the City of Light over the centuries. There are the de Cygnes, who represent the aristocracy, the Le Sourds and the Gascons, members of the working class, and the Blanchards, who are of the bourgeoisie class. The author’s writing is spot on – he weaves tales in this book that make it near-impossible to put down. And for history lovers – I was so impressed with Rutherfurd’s placing of smaller details in with the larger events. I daresay there will be new information for even the most ardent followers of history. There certainly was for me.
The novel opens in the year 1875, but then jumps back to the year 1261 two chapters later. Here Rutherfurd presents two parallel timelines. The same families feature in both, but what is really important here are the themes. Each differing year appears to connect to each other via a corresponding event. For instance, as the French Revolution, so full of hope, leads into a reign of terror in 1794 (chapter 24), so also does the hope of the socialist revolutionaries lead to despair, as the Nazis march into Paris in 1940 (chapter 26) – another reign of terror.
Any city with a rich history like Paris, would be a challenge for any author. But Rutherfurd, in carefully choosing his themes of religion, war, allegiance, politics, art and innovation (I’m sure I’m leaving some out, so please forgive me), will most assuredly please even the most discerning reader.
5 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2013