Paris – Edward Rutherfurd
You know where you are with an Edward Rutherfurd novel. You’re on a plane or a beach or enjoying a week of nothing to do. That isn’t to dismiss Rutherfurd but to acknowledge that his books are huge and deserve time and space to be appreciated. It’s best that you have got time and space because you will very quickly get hooked and then all other plans go out the window for days and weeks. His latest book is Paris and follows four families from the twelve hundreds up to the swinging sixties. Throughout the centuries, the fortunes of each family rises and falls and intersects with each other, each time in a new way. To add to this enjoyable rhythm, Rutherfurd does not tell the story in a linear sequence but flits back and forth through time. When tragedy strikes in the past you wonder how on earth the modern day branch of that family managed to recover. Slowly all is revealed. The bulk of the story follows three generations from 1875 to 1940 with historical flashbacks giving greater depth to the story.
Cunningly we find ourselves absorbing French history without being bored or dictated to and this is partly because Rutherfurd doesn’t focus on the main event, the crushing of the Knights Templar or the French Revolution, but instead looks at the repercussions such dramatic events had on the way people had to live their lives in the aftermath. Rutherfurd has always been well known for fleshing out the bones of a city and readers will find Paris just as engaging as London, Sarum or New York.
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