I have enjoyed many of Edward Rutherfurd's historical novels in the past. Paris differs slightly in format. Instead of flowing chronologically and following a handful of families through the centuries, time periods are juxtaposed. For better or worse, this blended then-and-now approach allows Rutherfurd to concentrate his storytelling efforts. Readers follow one generation of the family for an extended period of time: meeting most of the characters when they are young--in their teens in the 1880s--and following them through the second world war. Other periods of time are visited, of course, giving brief flashes of French history; these flashes give flavor, allowing Rutherfurd to draw vignettes of time, place, and culture. These chapters do not reveal thoroughly fleshed out characters for the most part, but, they do allow readers a brief taste of life in Paris through the ages. Do readers care about each and every character? Of course not!
What the novel Paris has is atmosphere. It was a readable novel starring some pleasant and not-so-pleasant characters. In fact, a few of the characters in Paris are truly despicable without any redeeming qualities. It definitely was a pleasant read; I'm not sure any of the characters are truly memorable and wow-worthy. But there was something about Paris that kept me reading for extended periods of time! I think I read Paris quicker than I've ever read a Rutherfurd novel! Perhaps I kept reading because I wanted to get back to the "now" story.
Have you read any of Edward Rutherfurd's novels? (Sarum, London, Russka, New York, The Forest, The Princes of Ireland, The Rebels of Ireland.) Do you have a favorite? I think my favorite is London, the first one I discovered.
© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews