Love and tragedy in the 8th Arrondissement of Paris
- Book: The Emperor of Paris
- Location: Paris
- Author: C S Richardson
C.S. Richardson has crafted a charming novel that weaves together the stories of several characters in the 8th arrondissement of Paris: a baker and his family, a painter, a bookseller, a tailor, a near-blind watchmaker, an art restorer, and others. Each narrative strand is incredibly moving and the novel is full of charming images of Paris. From the Louvre to the bookstalls along the Seine, from the boulevards to the gardens of the 8th arrondissement, Richardson gives readers a sense, not only of the geography of the city, but of the philosophy of the city as well. Here we have musicians, artists, craftsmen, and artisans who carry culture and tradition with them daily. The Boulangerie Notre-Dame is at the centre of this vibrant community and the characters swirl about it in an ever-tightening spiral bringing characters together in unexpected ways. Although at its heart a love story, the book reveals subtle insights about familial love, friendship, tragedy, community, and storytelling. Richardson has given us a heartbreaking and lovely read about the inhabitants of Paris in the early 20th Century. The locatedness of this novel is in many ways the opposite of his previous novel. That book, The End of the Alphabet, won the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for Best First Book, and its characters are in perpetual motion, traveling alphabetically around the world. I would highly recommend both novels for literary travelers of the actual or armchair variety.