Reviews for Paris : The Novel


Booklist Reviews 2013 March #2
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. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2013 April #1
Overstuffed yarn of the ville lumière from city-hopping epic-smith Rutherfurd (New York, 2009, etc.). Rutherfurd's latest is billed as Paris: The Novel, a designation with which the shades of Émile Zola and Victor Hugo might take issue. A novel, maybe--or maybe five novels rolled up into one big saucisson--but not the novel, DeMille-an or Zanuck-ian as it may sound. For Rutherfurd, the novel form seems to be an opportunity to erect a kind of scaffolding around a sequence of flash cards devoted to, in this case, the history of Paris, and there's scarcely a paragraph of exposition that is not didactic at heart. Henry Ford, he takes pains to tell us, is "the motor manufacturer" (not "a motor manufacturer"), just so we're sure we're not talking about Henry Ford the doughnut baron of Chillicothe. The Knights Templar, for anyone who hasn't read kindred spirit Dan Brown (though Rutherfurd is far and away the better writer), "were the guardians of huge deposits in many lands. From there, it was only a step to being bankers." He even explains French to the French: "Dieudonné....It means ‘the gift of God.' " Merci pour les explications, dude. Rutherfurd layers on the symbolism with a trowel: Not for nothing does the garçon at the book's beginning share a name with a certain musketeer. And much of the writing telegraphs, passively telling rather than showing: "the thought of base blood entering the noble family of de Cygne was repugnant to him." All that said, Rutherfurd's sense of epic sweep is admirable, and any book that stretches from Caesar to May 1968 is bound to need a lot of room. For all its merits, Rutherfurd's latest is too big and too professorial for comfort--Edmund White could have written his own À la recherche du temps perdu in the same space. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Library Journal Reviews 2012 November #1

Having escorted us to New York, London, and Ireland, best-selling author Rutherfurd now takes us to the City of Light. Not surprisingly, he starts in Roman times, then sweeps along from the building of Notre Dame to the Hundred Years' War, the glories of Versailles, the Revolution, the Belle Epoque, the remarkable Twenties, and, finally, World War II. For all you saga lovers.

[Page 53]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Library Journal Express Reviews
Paris, anyone? Yes, several centuries of the City of Light here, for readers who love their sagas long and drenched in history. Rutherfurd (New York) presents a panoramic view of the city on the Seine through several intertwining stories that span the period from the 13th century to 1968. Tales of counts and commoners alike appear in these pages. Thomas Gaston, an enterprising young man from the then distant suburb of Montmartre, lands a job with sculptor Frdric-August Bartholdi on the Statue of Liberty, then later with engineer Gustav Eiffel on the building of the landmark Eiffel Tower. One of the most appealing features of this carefully researched work are the interesting tidbits and factoids scattered throughout; for example, the Eiffel Tower was erected from prefabricated parts. With a cast of fictional characters rubbing shoulders with the great and famous in cameo appearances, readers have a front-row seat to observe Parisian life over the ages. A drawback: the voices sometimes sound too contemporary or modern for the era in question. Verdict This is not novelistic history in depth; rather, it is like a New York show--gorgeous sets, great acting, and lights, camera, action!--Edward Cone, New York (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 May #4

This massive novel traces the evolution of the City of Light over eight centuries, lacing together the fates of a handful of families in operatic style over the decades as class, religion, and commerce are buffeted by great historical forces. From the construction of Notre Dame and the Belle Epoque to the Nazi occupation, Rutherfurd (New York), a specialist in fictionalizing great sweeps of history through a single place, weaves the family ties of a bourgeois merchant clan, a minor aristocratic lineage, and a working-class family of patriots and criminals. Augmented by a credible cast of several dozen other characters, the author spins tales of multiple of emotions over many eras. Rutherfurd dispatches these rich historical periods with grace, bringing different epochs to life through the family sagas that cleave through the sweep of time, from an era of great cathedrals to the rise of the Eiffel Tower. Though his characters are too often pressed into service as talking history textbooks, he shows great authority as to what makes Paris exciting, lively, and timeless in its appeal. Agent: Rogers, Coleridge & White (U.K.). (May)

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Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews

This massive novel traces the evolution of the City of Light over eight centuries, lacing together the fates of a handful of families in operatic style over the decades as class, religion, and commerce are buffeted by great historical forces. From the construction of Notre Dame and the Belle Epoque to the Nazi occupation, Rutherfurd (New York), a specialist in fictionalizing great sweeps of history through a single place, weaves the family ties of a bourgeois merchant clan, a minor aristocratic lineage, and a working-class family of patriots and criminals. Augmented by a credible cast of several dozen other characters, the author spins tales of multiple of emotions over many eras. Rutherfurd dispatches these rich historical periods with grace, bringing different epochs to life through the family sagas that cleave through the sweep of time, from an era of great cathedrals to the rise of the Eiffel Tower. Though his characters are too often pressed into service as talking history textbooks, he shows great authority as to what makes Paris exciting, lively, and timeless in its appeal. Agent: Rogers, Coleridge & White (U.K.). (May)

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