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“Tell me how we came to this” Novel set in PARIS

5th August 2013

The Emperor of Paris by C S Richardson.

1846271126.01.ZTZZZZZZA novel set in the early 1900s and spans three decades. It is a love story, a chronicle of the lives of three characters that touch each others’ lives, and the relationship between father and son who are both afflicted by illiteracy that we would most probably recognise as severe dyslexia today.

The father overcomes his illiteracy by creating wonderful stories from pictures in books and newspapers. Later this transfers to the paintings in the Louvre. Hence the cryptic last line. The book is full of stories and, at times, sadness. The father goes off to the First World War and is not heard of for years. I quickly turned the pages to see the outcome with that little feeling of anxiety welling in my throat. That to me is the testament of exquisite writing.

This book is beautifully written although it took me a little while to work out what was happening with the way the chapters are constructed and flow, but stick with it! It is an excellent construction to follow the characters and how their lives almost touch.

I have visited Paris several times and one of the things that I associate with it is the mouth watering pastries and bread. So, with a lot of the story taking place in a bakery I could take myself there and almost smell the bread with the descriptions of the bread making process and baking. There is also the connection with fashion; Paris being a centre of Haute Couture.

I could also picture the many bridges over the River Seine, an unusual site for a book stall. Here you will meet Henri at the Fournier stall near the end of the Pont des Arts.

There is an irony in this lovely story about books, storytelling, the joy of reading and illiteracy.

A different, but delightful book, which I can recommend to you if intricate, magical storytelling that allows you to escape to another place for some solace is for you.

 Ann for the TripFiction Team

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