Some time ago I had a chance to wander through the charming streets of one of the Europe’s most tempting cities – Paris. Since then, this city is one of my favourite ones. That’s why I went there again, through the Edward Rutherfurd’s ‘epic novel of the city of lights’ – “Paris”; and I loved it. It was a delightful journey through centuries and different adventures in France, times of misery and life of prosperity, intrigues through wars and even peace.
It’s not a documentary book about the history, but you can still find some historic personages and read some facts of old times. It’s not a book that describes the lives of real families, but with the help of fictional people, you can have a glimpse in a way of living years and centuries ago. All that combined – historical truth and fiction of author’s imagination – in my opinion, is a very nice mixture. It gives some idea and impressions how people may have lived through centuries. How people from different social classes interacted. How their decisions were made based on some social norms and rules, and how that might have impacted further lives of their heirs in later generations. How politics evolved and art blossomed in France. And so on…
The longest chapter – almost the last – was dedicated to one of my favourite subjects: 2nd World War. Unlike few books I have read previously (terrible events of Holocaust, Katyn massacre or surviving during German occupation, for example), events described here, in “Paris”, gave me another perspective of life in the city that was overtaken by Germans during the 3rd Reich. Despite the active war going on in the country, chapter showed how relatively peaceful life can be in a city. Nevertheless, everyone wants to survive and that’s where personal interests and characters show up.
All that mélange of fiction and real facts let me to live through the adventures that happened in those the same streets and places, where I have been myself. Let me to imagine and emotionally link with places that I have in my memory. Yes, I enjoyed very much to see the city in a different light.
Here are some nice quotes from the book:
- “Sometimes that’s the most important thing of all. Character.”
- “This was the challenge he’d always been looking for. He just hadn’t known it. And with this realization came that wonderful sense of peace that comes to everyone when they find their natural metier.”
- “[…] we must not be afraid of progress, so long as we never forget traditions.”
- “However, if you show respect, and make an effort to speak French, everyone will help you. […] Sometimes an American will learn French, and we listen hard, because we realize they speak our language, but we can’t understand what they’re saying.”
- “The king was only ten paces away now. […] King Henry IV stank. He did not like to wash.”
- “When you marry, […] before you take any action, think first how it feels to your wife. Consider her feelings before your own. If you and your wife both do this for each other, you are on the road to a happy marriage.”
- “[…]: small wounds are healed by time; but time can only bandage great wounds, which continue to bleed in secret.”
P.S. If you want other opinion about the book, I found this review here with whom I can agree about the book in general.