Gillian Tindall is well known for her ability to breathe a passionate life into the generations of those who have walked the earth before us. Here, using a handful of lives, she evokes the texture and atmosphere of a hidden Paris which has survived against all the odds of time and chance. Her study shows how Paris has drawn into its magnetic field people who have variously found there education or enlightenment, a refuge or a secret garden, even a different identity.
Five individuals, all related in some way, reveal a web of human feeling and experiences across two centuries. There is the young doctor who walked from Edinburgh to Paris at the time of Napoleon's downfall; the self-made Victorian businessman who traded with the brash capital of the Second Empire; his reserved son who found in the old stones of Paris a refuge from his fraught childhood; Maud, the archetypal English spinster, who somehow managed to construct an alternatative experience in Paris; and Julia , young and desperate, who found her own unlikely salvation there in a very different era.
Gillian Tindall brings Paris alive - whether it's the network of streets that form the Left Bank, the resonance of 'Bohemia' and its garrets, cafes and artists, 'Gay Paree' with its music halls and courtesans or the past chroniclers of the city such as Zola, George du Maurier and Orwell. But featured far more than the famous, are the unsung citizens for whom Gillian Tindall has such empathy.
Recommend this book
Add your recommendation
Only registered users can recommend books. Please use the buttons below to either create a new account, or sign-in to an existing account.
Tindall writes of a lost Paris with a quiet eloquence that is all her own, combining scrupulous honesty with a compassionate imagination and an eye for memorable detail - Guardian
It's a fascinating walking tour of old Paris, studded with humour and sympathetic glimpses into several lives that have resisted the microscope of history - Telegraph
The book's true strength lies in its writer's abiding, for-better-for-worse attachment to her city of the heart - Sunday Telegraph
Tindall's alertness to detail and brimming intelligence are consistently engaging - The Independent
delightful book invites reflection, speculation, argument, and almost every page also summons memories - Literary Review
Tindall... can create vivid portraits out of a few misty pixels - Sunday Times
An enterprise of formidable research and enviable lightness of touch - The Spectator
Charming disinterment of a lost 19th - and 20th -century Paris...An antidote to the history of great men and events - The Guardian Saturday Review, SUMMER READS
This book is a personal memoir, a history of the left bank of Paris and an endlessly compelling tale of a family who lived in and out of Paris through two centuries of war, conflict and great politics...Nostalgia is of course a key trope in Parisian history and this book, richly textured and beautifully written, is a wonderful addition to that canon - History Today
Gillian Tindall is a master of miniaturist history, making a handful of people, a few places or a dramatic event stand for the much larger picture. Well-known for the quality of her writing and the meticulous nature of her research, she has written highly praised regional histories of Kentish Town (The Fields Beneath), London's Southbank (The House by the Thames) and three English rural communities, (Three Houses, Three Lives), as well as prize-winning novels and history. She lives in London.