Thursday, September 19, 2013
The Emperor of Paris by C S Richardson
He had a library.
The Emperor of Paris by C S Richardson is a wonderfully lyrical, fairy-tale love story that takes place in World War 1 era Paris. Although the format is a little disorienting at first with sparse, dreamlike writing, the apparently different story-lines come closer and closer together building a surprising sense of suspense. The descriptions, too, are deliciously tantalizing, whether about French baking, Paris neighbourhoods, or rare books. Part Hemingway, part Murakami, it's a book that's hard to categorize but a lovely read nonetheless.
Octavio Notre-Dame comes from a long line of bakers. At the establishment known as the cake-slice, he produces baguettes and brioches with timeless perfection. But like generations of Notre-Dame men before him, Octavio has never mastered the art of reading. His only knowledge of the world beyond the bakery is born of his imagination. Just a few streets away, in the basement of the Louvre, Isabeau Normande restores great works of art to their original glory. Trying to forget her own disfigured beauty, she loses herself in the faces of others and the wonders she finds in books. The two might never have met, but for a curious chain of coincidences involving an impoverished painter, a lonely bookseller and a book of ancient tales lost and found . . . (back cover)