Customer Reviews for

City of Light

Average Rating 3.5
( 36 )
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(8)

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(7)

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(5)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

A good and engaging read

I read this book when it was first released and passed the book on. A womens' group I belong to chose this book for our end of year program. Rereading this book has been wonderful. There is so much depth in the story. The author has provided a vivid picture of life ...
I read this book when it was first released and passed the book on. A womens' group I belong to chose this book for our end of year program. Rereading this book has been wonderful. There is so much depth in the story. The author has provided a vivid picture of life in Buffalo, NY at the turn of the century. How I wish the city were even half as vibrant now as it was then! I am enjoying the story even more during the second reading, learning so much and escaping into the a time of history that is described passionately. The story line is somewhat complicated, but worth navigating through. I would definitely recommend this book to others.

posted by 1027631 on April 10, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

Fascinating history with love, a mystery, and political maneuverings

Immaculate historical detail about an era most of us know little about--Grover Cleveland, the beginnings of electricity, the debate over whether or not to allow Niagara Falls' waters to be used, the robber barons--and all interwoven with a mystery, a love story, and sin...
Immaculate historical detail about an era most of us know little about--Grover Cleveland, the beginnings of electricity, the debate over whether or not to allow Niagara Falls' waters to be used, the robber barons--and all interwoven with a mystery, a love story, and sinister machinations. I thoroughly enjoyed this!

posted by MapleValleyBrooke on January 23, 2012

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  • Posted January 23, 2012

    Fascinating history with love, a mystery, and political maneuverings

    Immaculate historical detail about an era most of us know little about--Grover Cleveland, the beginnings of electricity, the debate over whether or not to allow Niagara Falls' waters to be used, the robber barons--and all interwoven with a mystery, a love story, and sinister machinations. I thoroughly enjoyed this!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2010

    A good and engaging read

    I read this book when it was first released and passed the book on. A womens' group I belong to chose this book for our end of year program. Rereading this book has been wonderful. There is so much depth in the story. The author has provided a vivid picture of life in Buffalo, NY at the turn of the century. How I wish the city were even half as vibrant now as it was then! I am enjoying the story even more during the second reading, learning so much and escaping into the a time of history that is described passionately. The story line is somewhat complicated, but worth navigating through. I would definitely recommend this book to others.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2004

    Major Effort for First Time Writer

    I am an acquaintance of the author and have to say that I was shocked by the depth of the struggles portrayed in this book. I read it because I know her, but I will read her other works in the future because I think she's a great talent. Reading 'City of Light' I was fascinated by American history in a way that I only wish I could have been when I was younger, as it was my least-favorite subject in school. The one area which I found lacking in this story was the denouement: in the end, what did it all mean? Louisa Barrett's character seems entirely too bridled by her own fears and the very real constraints of the time and I would have admired her much more for taking a stronger stance and doing something, anything, instead of ending the story in much the same place as where she began it. I guess it's a realistic depiction of a woman feeling powerless in the face of a regime of men, but I expected more. Where is the brave adventurer's spirit in this woman? Has her life taken it completely out of her? I do definitely recommend this book for anyone interested in the history of Buffalo, the lives of early 'captains of industry', and anyone who would like a peek into what life must have been like early in the century for a single working woman without the power of a husband or family to shield her. Sadly, it means that she was largely a puppet. However, I do recommend this book and hope to see further work from Lauren. Great first effort, impeccably researched and intelligently written, even though the ending was a bit of a disappointment. It was certainly better reading than 'The Devil Wears Prada', 'Shopgirl' and things of that ilk.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2014

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  • Posted March 21, 2014

    Great story with historic backdrop

    This very engaging story profiled a strong woman living through a period of time where female strength was not valued. She sacrifices everything for the sake of a child and still manages a career after a devastating event. The backdrop of early days in Buffalo and the development of electricity was fascinating as well. Great read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2013

    I have never read a dumber book. The publishers say that the her

    I have never read a dumber book. The publishers say that the heroine is a woman before her times but she is not. She is a woman set squarely in her times, and she spends the entire book trying to prove that she belongs in that world with those nonsense people. She is so dumb I don't know how she ended up as the headmistress of a a school leading young ladies. Stupidest part was when she found out who the killer was and tried to reason with the killer instead of telling the police. How dumb can she get? And to add insult to injury the author tries to make Louisa seem like a thinking woman who questions things and people around her. To me that came off as being weak instead of her seeming like a thinking woman she seems like someone who can't make her mind up about anything. Just as well others were controlling her life for her. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2013

    Surprise plot!

    Good history of early days of the water powered electricity. Took about 100 pages to develop the characters and to get interesting. Once into the story, I enjoyed it. Those who like historical fiction should enjoy City of Light

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  • Posted March 21, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    An entire course in the history of the region and social issues

    An entire course in the history of the region and social issues in the US during this era is contained within the pages of this novel. The story was almost the backdrop for the history instead of vice versa.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2012

    Fantastic read!!

    The story provides a glimpse of what like in Buffalo during its glory days! A must-read for any native of the area interested in its history and the magnificence of Niagara Falls. The characters were so well-developed that Icared for their well being.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2007

    A reviewer

    I had to read this book for an assignment in school. I felt that at times it was confusing trying to figure out which character was talking but all in all i thought it was a fairly good book. I liked the fact that it was placed in Buffalo where I live and it portrayed the city in a very positive way. Good book overall, I would strongly recomend it especially to those living in Buffalo and those who like history.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2006

    good book

    I read this book, because it was an assignment for school, living in buffalo it was an even more interesting book to read.. i really liked and it is probably one of my favorite books EVER!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2006

    Very good historical fiction

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The descriptions of Buffalo and Niagara Falls are amazing. The characters are well-developed and the story is very interesting with a very unusual ending. You feel like you are right there with the characters in Buffalo in 1901 right down to what they are wearing and the carriages they ride in and the places that they visit. It is suspenseful and very intelligently written. Also there is some interesting history of electricity.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2005

    Fascinating look at Buffalo in 1900

    Today, Buffalo and honeymoon destination Niagara Falls are synonymous. A century ago it was famous for America's first alternating current power facility and infamous for where President McKinley was assassinated. Powerful forces jockeyed to answer: is electric power a commercial product or public service. This is the book's subject as told by schoolmarm and headmistress Louisa Barrett. Her position brings her into the inner circle of Buffalo's elite, who sponsor her and make her their unwitting pawn. Her personal struggles move the book at a decent pace, but the power structure interplay is fascinating and makes this a recommended read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2004

    A little bit of everything

    Lauren Belfer¿s first novel City of Light is intriguing. She combines fact and fiction, excellent inspiration and romance, and most importantly mystery and history. Ms. Belfer¿s vivid description of location, scenes, scenery and characters, help the reader picture what is happening. While reading this novel, it seemed as if I was next to Louisa Barrett, the headmistress of the Macauley School for girls, as one of her students. The story revolves around controversy over Niagara Falls and the amount of water being taken for the nation¿s electricity. This affects not only the hydropower project and the environmentalists, but also Ms. Barrett and her connection with Tomas Sinclair, the head of the project. Despite the events in the city, there are suspicious, secretive `accidental deaths¿ which Louisa Barrett questions. At the turn of the century, being a woman, Louisa Barrett, is very well treated by an all-male school board. She is well respected and is considered no less of a man in terms of knowledge. She has a willingness to teach her students how to survive the 'man¿s world' at the time, she makes it her a duty to instill high values, she is persistent in working hard despite certain personal issues, she believes in what she teaches, and never gives up on others. She is a progressive woman and a strong character in the City of Light, someone the reader could learn from. City of Light is truly a great read, as it doesn¿t belong to a particular genre; it¿s a little bit of everything in one enlightening novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2004

    intertwined Fiction -logic, Non-Fiction -historical reality,

    The setting for CITY OF LIGHT is the early 1900's, burgeoning Buffalo, New York, the hometown of the author Lauren Belfer. Infused with the excitement of the development of Niagara Falls, one of the greatest hydropower projects in the USA, there are factions that desire to control the distribution of electrical power.... i.e. industrial vs. public usage. Rights activists attempt to protect the amount of water that the upper echelon may use for power purposes vs. for the natural beauty of the area and the public good. The elite use money, power and position to control the cast of characters represented in this historical novel. The activists use public rallies as well as secretive physicallly destructive means to gain attention to their cause. The Pan-Am Exposition is a primary historical event revolving around glory, greed, recognition, partnerships, and the future of Buffalo NY, Niagara Falls, and surrounding locations. Narrating character, Ms. Louisa Barrett is elected to the position of headmistress to the prestigious Macauley School for Girls, reporting to a powerful board of elite men, who back Louisa in her goals for the School, however control with money & societal position, assumed,assigned & unassigned. Proud of her proteges, Louisa represents a forward-looking woman, who is highly supportive of education for women, instilling high values in Macauley students and its graduates and the paths they choose for their future in the world. Amid suspicious 'accidental deaths' of a mysterious nature, abduction of a McCauley school girl,leaden hands of control over Thomas Sinclair, head of the hydropower project, secrets of Ms. Louisa Barrett and her connections with Gloria Sinclair and Gloria's deceased mother Margaret Sinclair, racial prejudices combined with political plays and maneuvers for power are inherent and rampant. CITY OF LIGHTS contains moments of joy & triumph with much despair, sadness and tragedy. The author's talent of elegance in writing with finesse touches the emotions, with eloquence and historical knowledge, and is the prime positive factor of this novel. Author Belfer's ability to vividly describe the locations, scenes, scenery and resolve of the cast of characters persuades the reader to complete this tome to its ending, discovering justice unabated throughout the story. The author provides intelligent, informative facts of research representing events & the non-fictional personages who played a part in the role of rights, politics, progress, and power. Among the historical cast, the least of which are... journalist Nellie Bly; President (Stephen) Grover Cleveland; Thomas Edison; President William McKinley; Vice President then President Theodore Roosevelt; the famous Frederick Law Olmstead (landscaper-designer of Buffalo NY Parks; the well-known Manhattan NYC Central Park, plus other sites); rich & powerful magnates such as J.P. Morgan; and Mary Talbert (Afro-American rights activist). The Macauley School for Girls is a fictional name for the still existent Buffalo Seminary, Buffalo, NY. The attempted assassination of President McKinley and his subsequent death is dutifully recorded. This reader is proud to have absorbed this novel, only regretting that it took so long to pull the 1999 publication off the shelf from within a plethora of tomes beckoning to be read. It is truly a writing that embraces the senses, and emotions of the cast members finding their demeanor truly human. --This text refers to the Paperback edition 1999.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2003

    A Sense of Place

    This book had a great sense of place - you got to feel what Buffalo might have been like and a great sense of the time period. The writing, at times, was excellent. I didn't think that it was too long, dry, or that the ending felt like 'so what.'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2003

    interesting . . . but overall disappointing

    Living in the city of Buffalo I found this book very interesting to read. However it was very slow moving and anti-climatic. I found the very end to be especially disappointing as it made the entire story seem like 'what was the point?' If it were to be made into a movie, the end would need some adjusting.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2002

    an exciting debut in historical fiction

    I loved all the background information and period detail that apparently bored some other reviewers. I am anxiously awaiting the next Lauren Belfer offering and praying for someone to option City of Light film rights. I saw it as a movie in my own mind almost immediately!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2001

    Lauren Belfer is a great writer!

    'City of Light' is an excellent novel and Lauren Belfer is a major literary talent. As a piece of historical fiction, 'City of Light' is better than E.L. Doctorow's 'Ragtime' and as good as many of Gore Vidal's historical novels. She and Vidal appear to share a common literary antecedent in Henry James, judging from the subtle dialogue in 'City of Light.' The novel's sole flaw is that perhaps it is too subtle. At times I thought Louisa Barrett was simply imagining threats based on paranoid interpretations of her conversations. Of course, the reader eventually finds that Barrett's fears are based in reality. I liked the fact that Barrett takes pains to describe the life of the poor people in Buffalo, who so often are immigrants. Too often, historical fiction dwells on the actions of the 'high and mighty' when the lives of the 'common' people have often had an important impact in shaping the world in which we live. Like a previous reader/reviewer, I think this novel would make a marvelous movie. A film version, however, would have to make some of the action more physical and less psychological. Louisa Barrett could be a great role for Julia Roberts.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2001

    Light Weight Reading

    This first time author tried to put too much into this history of Buffalo. The historical part was interesting, but the main character had a few too many 'John Jakes' experiences with famous people of the time.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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