by Edward Rutherfurd


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From Edward Rutherfurd, the grand master of the historical novel, comes a dazzling epic about the magnificent city of Paris. Moving back and forth in time, the story unfolds through intimate and thrilling tales of self-discovery, divided loyalty, and long-kept secrets. As various characters come of age, seek their fortunes, and fall in and out of love, the novel follows nobles who claim descent from the hero of the celebrated poem The Song of Roland; a humble family that embodies the ideals of the French Revolution; a pair of brothers from the slums behind Montmartre, one of whom works on the Eiffel Tower as the other joins the underworld near the Moulin Rouge; and merchants who lose everything during the reign of Louis XV, rise again in the age of Napoleon, and help establish Paris as the great center of art and culture that it is today. With Rutherfurd’s unrivaled blend of impeccable research and narrative verve, this bold novel brings the sights, scents, and tastes of the City of Light to brilliant life.

Praise for Paris

“A tour de force . . . [Edward Rutherfurd’s] most romantic and richly detailed work of fiction yet.”—Bookreporter

“Fantastic . . . as grand and engrossing as Paris itself.”—Historical Novels Review

“This saga is filled with historical detail and a huge cast of characters, fictional and real, spanning generations and centuries. But Paris, with its art, architecture, culture and couture, is the undisputed main character.”—Fort Worth Star-Telegram

“Both Paris, the venerable City of Light, and Rutherfurd, the undisputed master of the multigenerational historical saga, shine in this sumptuous urban epic.”—Booklist

“There is suspense, intrigue and romance around every corner.”—Asbury Park Press

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345530769
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/01/2014
Pages: 832
Sales rank: 76,266
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Edward Rutherfurd is the bestselling author of eight novels, including London, Sarum, The Princes of Ireland, The Rebels of Ireland, and New York.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


Paris. City of love. City of dreams. City of splendor. City of saints and scholars. City of gaiety.

Sink of iniquity.

In two thousand years, Paris had seen it all.

It was Julius Caesar who had first seen the possibilities of the place where the modest Parisii tribe made their home. The Mediterranean lands of southern Gaul had already been Roman provinces for generations at that time; but when Caesar decided to bring the troublesome Celtic tribes of northern Gaul into the empire as well, it hadn’t taken him long.

The Romans had quickly seen that this was a logical place for a town. A collecting point for the produce of the huge fertile plains of northern Gaul, the Parisian territory lay on the navigable River Seine. From its headwaters farther south, there was an easy portage to the huge River Rhône, which ran down to the busy ports of the Mediterranean. Northward, the Seine led to the narrow sea across which the island of Britannia lay. This was the great river system through which the southern and northern worlds were joined. Greek and Phoenician traders had been using it even before the birth of Rome. The site was perfect. The Parisian heartland lay in a wide, shallow valley through which the Seine made a series of graceful loops. In the center of the valley, on a handsome east-west bend, the river widened and several big mudflats and islands lay, like so many huge barges at anchor, in the stream. On the northern bank, meadows and marshes stretched far and wide until they came to the lip of low, enclosing ridges, from which several small hills and promontories jutted out, some of them covered with vineyards.

But it was on the southern bank--the left bank as one went downstream--that the ground near the river swelled gently into a low, flat hillock, like a table overlooking the water. And it was here that the Romans had laid out their town, a large forum and the main temple covering the top of the table with an amphitheater nearby, a grid of streets all around, and a north-south road running straight through the center, across the water to the largest island, which was now a suburb with a fine temple to Jupiter, and over a farther bridge to the northern bank. They had originally called the town Lutetia. But it was also known, more grandly, as the city of the Parisii.

In the Dark Ages after the Roman Empire fell, the German tribe of Franks had conquered the territory in the Land of the Franks, as it came to be called, or France. Its rich countryside had been invaded by Huns and Viking Norsemen. But the island in the river, with its wooden defenses, like some battered old ship, survived. In medieval times, she’d grown into a great city, her maze of Gothic churches, tall timbered houses, dangerous alleys and stinking cellars spread across both sides of the Seine, enclosed by a high stone wall. Stately Notre Dame Cathedral graced the island. Her university was respected all over Europe. Yet even then, the English came and conquered her. And Paris might have been English if Joan of Arc, the miraculous maid, hadn’t appeared and chased them out.

Old Paris: City of bright colors and narrow streets, of carnival and plague.

And then there was new Paris.

The change had come slowly. From the time of the Renaissance, lighter, classical spaces began to appear in her dark medieval mass. Royal palaces and noble squares created a new splendor. Broad boulevards began to carve through the rotting old warrens. Ambitious rulers created vistas worthy of ancient Rome.

Paris had altered her face to suit the magnificence of Louis XIV, and the elegance of Louis XV. The Age of Enlightenment and the new republic of the French Revolution had encouraged classical simplicity, and the age of Napoleon bequeathed imperial grandeur.

Recently, this process of change had been accelerated by a new town planner. Baron Haussmann’s great network of boulevards and long, straight streets lined with elegant office and apartment blocks was so thorough that there were quarters of Paris now where the rich mess of the Middle Ages was scarcely to be seen.

Yet old Paris was still there, around almost every corner, with her memories of centuries past, and of lives relived. Memories as haunting as an old, half-forgotten tune that, when played again--in another age, in another key, whether on harp or hurdy-gurdy--is still the same. This was her enduring grace.

Was Paris now at peace with herself? She had suffered and survived, seen empires rise and fall. Chaos and dictatorship, monarchy and republic: Paris had tried them all. And which did she like best? Ah, there was a question . . . For all her age and grace, it seemed she did not know.

Recently, she had suffered another terrible crisis. Four years ago, her people had been eating rats. Humiliated first, starving next. Then they had turned upon each other. It had not been long since the bodies had been buried, the smell of death been dispersed by the wind and the echo of the firing squads departed over the horizon.

Now, in the year 1875, she was recovering. But many great issues remained still to be resolved.

The little boy was only three. A fair-haired, blue-eyed child. Some things he knew already. Others were still kept from him. And then there were the secrets.

Father Xavier gazed at him. How like his mother the child looked. Father Xavier was a priest, but he was in love with a woman, the mother of this child. He admitted his passion to himself, but his self-discipline was complete. No one would have guessed his love. As for the little boy, God surely had a plan for him.

Perhaps that he should be sacrificed.

It was a sunny day in the fashionable Tuileries Gardens in front of the Louvre, where nannies watched their children play, and Father Xavier was taking him for a walk. Father Xavier: family confessor, friend in need, priest.

“What are your names?” he playfully asked the child.

“Roland, D’Artagnan, Dieudonne de Cygne.” He knew them all by heart.

“Bravo, young man.” Father Xavier Parle-Doux was a small, wiry man in his forties. Long ago he’d been a soldier. A fall from a horse had left him with a stabbing pain in his back ever since--though only a handful of people were aware of it.

But his days as a soldier had marked him in another way. He had done his duty. He’d seen killing. He had seen things worse than killing. And in the end, it had seemed to him that there must be something better than this, something more sacred, an undying flame of light and love in the terrible darkness of the world. He’d found it in the heart of Holy Church.

Also, he was a monarchist.

He’d known the child’s family all his life, and now he looked down at him with affection, but also with pity. Roland had no brother or sister. His mother, that beautiful soul, the woman he himself would have liked to marry had he not chosen another calling, suffered with delicate health. The future of the family might rest on little Roland alone: a heavy burden for a boy to bear.

But he knew that as a priest, he must take a larger view. What was it the Jesuits said? “Give us a boy till he’s seven, and he’s ours for life.” Whatever God’s plan for this child, whether that service led to happiness or not, Father Xavier would lead him toward it.

“And who was Roland?”

“Roland was a hero.” The little boy looked up for approval. “My mother read me the story. He was my ancestor,” he added solemnly.

The priest smiled. The famous Song of Roland was a haunting, romantic tale, from a thousand years ago, about how the emperor Charlemagne’s friend was cut off as the army crossed the mountains. How Roland blew on his horn for help, to no avail. How the Saracens slew him, and how the emperor wept for the loss of his friend. The de Cygne family’s claim to this ancestor was fanciful, but charming.

“Others of your ancestors were crusading knights.” Father Xavier nodded encouragingly. “But this is natural. You are of noble birth.” He paused. “And who was D’Artagnan?”

“The famous Musketeer. He was my ancestor.”

As it happened, the hero of The Three Musketeers had been based upon a real man. And Roland’s family had married a noblewoman of the same name back in the time of Louis XIV--though whether they had taken much interest in this connection before the novel made the name famous, the priest rather doubted.

“You have the blood of the D’Artagnans in your veins. They were soldiers who served their king.”

“And Dieudonne?” the child asked.

Hardly were the words out before Father Xavier checked himself. He must be careful. Could the child have any idea of the horror of the guillotine that lay behind the last of his names?

“Your grandfather’s name is beautiful, you know,” he replied. “It means ‘the gift of God.’ ” He thought for a moment. “The birth of your grandfather was--I do not say a miracle--but a sign. And remember one thing, Roland,” the priest continued. “Do you know the motto of your family? It is very important. ‘Selon la volonte de Dieu’--According to God’s Will.”

Father Xavier turned his eyes up to survey the landscape all around. To the north rose the hill of Montmartre, where Saint Denis had been martyred by pagan Romans, sixteen centuries ago. To the southwest, behind the towers of Notre Dame, rose the slope above the Left Bank where, as the old Roman Empire was crumbling, the indefatigable Saint Genevieve had asked God to turn Attila and his Huns away from the city--and her prayers had been answered.

Time and again, thought the priest, God had protected France in her hour of need. When the Moslems had first swept up from Africa and Spain, and might have overrun all Europe, hadn’t He sent a great general, the grandfather of Charlemagne, to beat them back? When the English, in their long, medieval struggle with the French kings, had even made themselves masters of Paris, hadn’t the good Lord given France the maiden Joan of Arc to lead her armies to victory?

Most important of all, God had given France her royal family, whose Capetian, Valois and Bourbon branches for thirty generations had ruled, reunited and made glorious this sacred land.

And through all those centuries, the de Cygnes had faithfully served those divinely anointed kings.

This was the little boy’s heritage. He would understand it in due course.

It was time to go home. Behind them, at the end of the Tuileries Gardens, lay the vast open space of the Place de la Concorde. Beyond that, the magnificent sweep of the Champs-Elysees, for two miles up to the Arc de Triomphe.

The little boy was still too young to know the Place de la Concorde’s part in his history. As for the Arc de Triomphe, grand though it was, Father Xavier did not care for republican monuments.

Instead, he gazed again at the hill of Montmartre--that site where once a pagan temple stood; where Saint Denis had been martyred; and where such terrible scenes had taken place in the recent upheavals in the city. How appropriate that this very year, a new temple should be arising there by the windmills, a temple to Catholic France, its pure, white dome shining like a dove over the city. The basilica of Sacre Coeur, the Sacred Heart.

This was the temple where the little boy should serve. For God had saved his family for a reason. There was shame to be overcome, faith to be restored.

“Could you walk a little way?” he asked. Roland nodded. With a smile, the priest reached down and took the child’s hand. “Shall we sing a song?” he asked. “ ‘Frere Jacques,’ perhaps?”

So hand in hand the priest and the little boy, watched by several nannies and their charges, walked out of the gardens, singing.

As Jules Blanchard reached the Louvre end of the Champs-Elysees and walked up toward the church of La Madeleine, he had every reason to be a happy man. He already had two sons, good boys both of them. But he’d always wanted a daughter. And at eight o’clock this morning, his wife had presented him with a baby girl.

There was only one problem. And solving it would require a certain delicacy--which was why, at this moment, he was going to a rendezvous with a lady who was not his wife.

Jules Blanchard was a well-set, vigorous man, with a solid family fortune. The century before, as the charming, rococo monarchy of Louis XV encountered the grand ideas of the Enlightenment, and the French Revolution turned the world upside down, his ancestor had been a bookseller of radical views. The bookseller’s son, Jules’s grandfather, was a doctor who came to the notice of the rising general, Napoleon Bonaparte, during the Revolution and never looked back. A fashionable physician under Napoleon’s empire and the restored Bourbon monarchy that followed it, he’d finally retired to a handsome house in Fontainebleau, which the family still possessed. His wife was from a merchant family, and in the next generation, Jules’s father had gone into business. Specializing in wholesaling grain, by the mid-nineteenth century he had built up a considerable fortune. Jules had joined the business and now, at the age of thirty-five, he was ready to take over from his father, whenever that worthy gentleman chose finally to retire.

At La Madeleine, Jules turned half-right. He liked this boulevard because it led past the city’s huge new opera house. The Paris Opera, designed by Garnier, had been completed only at the start of this year, but already it was a landmark. Besides its many hidden wonders--which included an ingenious artificial lake in the cellars to control the swamp waters below--the Opera was such a magnificent concoction that, with its great, round roof, it reminded Jules of an enormous, decorated gateau. It was rich, it was flamboyant, it was the spirit of the age--at least, for lucky fellows like him.

And now he was in sight of his rendezvous. Just a short way past the Opera, on a corner site, was the Cafe Anglais. Unlike the Opera, it was rather plain outside. But inside was another matter. It was lavish enough for princes. A few years ago, the emperors of Russia and Germany had dined there together for a legendary feast that went on for eight hours.

Where else could one meet Josephine for lunch?

They had opened the big paneled room known as Le Grand Seize for lunch today. As he entered past bowing waiters, gilt mirrors and potted plants, he saw her at once.


Excerpted from "Paris"
by .
Copyright © 2014 Edward Rutherfurd.
Excerpted by permission of Random House Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Paris 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 62 reviews.
gaele More than 1 year ago
Seven hundred years of history interwoven with the stories of five families illuminates Paris for a reader much as the first view of la Tour Eiffel at night sparks your imagination.  A herculean task for any author and reader, this book combines actual historical events with a nod to their impact on the Paris that exists in this present day.   Substantial in both information and page count, Rutherford has again created a sweeping book that manages to provide a ‘feel’ of the city and the time as strongly as it informs the reader about the City of Lights.    Having been a fan of Paris for many years, with relatives who live in the city, the areas were familiar, even when the history that was an intrinsic element to the area was not.  Weaving through time the story never loses that underlying fascination and love for the city that was the centerpiece, backdrop and even breathing character in the stories that explore the history. Adding to the dimensions of understanding and feeling for the city is the detail of the differing perspectives from the characters and families that are used to illustrate the events, providing a contrast and sense of immediate impact that removes it from the annals of the distant past.  This is my first encounter with this author’s work, and it will not be my last.  I appreciate the fact that the city is in the forefront and becomes a character that will feed your inner travel bug.  As a city Paris does breathe, there is magic in the streets and air: in this book, there is a sense and understanding of her raison d'être and why she is so beloved.  I received an eBook copy from the publisher via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
FeatheredQuillBookReviews More than 1 year ago
This author has become the one and only when it comes to epic novels. His new novel called Paris is his latest gem. This book covers many years (700) of one of the most talked about cities in the world. The reader is privy to the culture and architecture; everything from the building of the Statue of Liberty which was sent to New York City as a gift from France and on to the Eiffel Tower, which is an amazing story by itself, a constant march through society, geographic places and history of the city of Paris. The story picks up in the year 1261 with the building of Notre Dame Cathedral and ending in the late 1960’s after all the wars that France was involved in came to a close. The reader is treated to the lives of the people who grew up, had families, fought in wars, and built the beautiful city of Paris. The novel goes into many historical scenes that occurred in the City of Light over the centuries. There are many different types of folks and their descendants who meet and mingle with each other whether they want to or not. We meet members of the aristocratic de Cygnes family; the Le Sourd family and the Gascon family who are members of the working class. As an example, one of the sons of the Gascon family helped build the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower. The Blanchard family, who are very rich, do not associate with aristocrats unless they are selling them something and they are never seen 'hob-nobbing' with the working class. The author’s writing is first class, as always, and the stories that he tells of the people of Paris are fascinating. This reader has read a lot of history but was still amazed by some of the things that took place. An example would be the building of the Eiffel Tower. Even with all the modern equipment that is used today, I was astonished at how they put this very large tower together with the means that they had to work with at the time the Tower was built. The author presents us with timelines for each family and the topics that are covered by each are really important. There are chapters about the French Revolution that started out full of dreams to end up in terror; the expectations of the socialists that led into despair as the Nazis marched into Paris in 1940, bringing into being another reign of terror. As in any city with a lot of historical facts, including many monuments, and when fortunes are won and lost, such a topic would be a difficult book for any author to conquer but Edward Rutherfurd does not disappoint. Taking into consideration his classic research and writing, the author brings these families, with all their problems and dreams to the forefront for all to see. Quill says: Readers who have never seen Paris will think they are sitting in the middle of it. A wonderful read!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have lived in Paris for almost two years now and I was surprised by how much I learned from this novel. I now have a newfound appreciation for this magnificent city and I am excited to re-discover the city after seeing through the author's eyes.  Although it may not be my most favorite book by this author, it was nevertheless a very enjoyable read. I highly recommend it!
carlosmock More than 1 year ago
Paris by Edward Rutherford What a great story! From the Roman times to 1968, here's the story of the French capital as viewed by six fictitious French families: The Le Sourds: revolutionaries, leftists and communists The Le Cygne: aristocrats The Renards: Protestant businessmen and professionals The Blanchards: Catholic businessmen and professionals The Gascons: Blue collar And, the Jacobs: Jewish From them, we learn about the founding of Paris, the class warfare, the medieval Parisian history, the religious warfare - The Massacre of Protestants at the Feast of St. Bartholomeus, or the persecution of the Huguenots; the French revolution, the Reign of Terror, The Paris Commune, the persecution of the Jewish people - The edict of Fointainbleau and The Edict of Nantes; the building of the Statue of liberty and of the Tour Eiffel, The First World War; The Influenza epidemic of 1918 - 19, The Second World war, the French occupation, the resistance, and Finally The Charles de Gaulle years... Although it's 805 pages and goes from the 13th century to 1968, it's a very pleasant read. It concentrates on the period of history from 1875 to 1940, thus it's heavy on the post revolutionary history of the republic. I loved the way Rutheford manipulates his fictitious characters to tell the French history. I also loved the conflicts between the social classes - whether a citizen using her influence to have an aristocrat sent to the guillotine, to an aristocrats using his power to kill a peasant; and the conflicts these characters demonstrate on religion - whether Catholic against Protestant to Christian against Jews. For anyone who loves Paris, like I do, this is a great read.
RonnaL More than 1 year ago
Once again Edward Rutherfurd has captured the history and culture of a place-- this time Paris-- by following generations of a few different families.  PARIS covers the centuries from 1261 to 1968 wonderfully by involving the reader in his fictional character's lives mixed in with real historical figures. I especially enjoyed this book because I really knew very little about Paris before hand.  I got engrossed in the "flavor" of the city, as well as the factual history of the city. Rutherfurd included so many interesting times, places and characters.  I especially enjoyed the story around the building of the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty, with the iron workers lives around great heights, and Mr. Eiffel's ingenious means of construction.  The political and power antics of Cardinal Richelieu; all the different King Louies, with the nobility and lower classes populating Versailles; the French Revolution;  the push and pull of democracy, the socialists, and the communists; the extreme violent wars over Catholics and Protestants;  the street lives of the city during the World Wars; and the conflict of the "Jewish problem", with the dehumanizing of the Jews, and thefts of their artworks, resulting in the Nazi occupation ----all were populated with characters that made me feel that I was part of every period in these times.  There was also great stories around the artists, authors, and show folks who flocked to Paris where they found a nurturing environment for their passions and talents. Perhaps the most intriguing family situation for me, involved two brothers--Toma and Luke.  Toma being hard working, ethical, brave and extremely likable. .  Luke being calculating, selfish, enterprising in all the wrong ways, and very dangerous.  Their actions and relationship culminating in a grand conflict during WW 2. Rutherfurd told his story of history, but he was even better at involving me in his character's lives. Another winner from Rutherfurd!!
jasminrose80 More than 1 year ago
I have read over seven hundred pages so far, and will be sorry to see the book end. Rutherford has helped me relive all the places I have experienced in over thirty years of travel to Paris. Still, I learned many new things thanks to the author's fascinating historical research. Highly recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book differs from the others: London, Sarum, Russka, etal. Instead of marching through history from beginning to end, There is some jumping around in terms of dates. It was enjoyable and kept me turning pages. The reader visits the french revolution, building both the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty,and Notre Dame Cathedral. Of course the characters are traced from one chapter to another by family tree. Just what I expected from this author who always delivers a grand story.
PeggyBrooks More than 1 year ago
Down through the years I have found I am never more content with a book than I am as when I read a Rutherford epic. I looked forward to reading this book wondering how my quest for knowledge about Paris would grow from reading about the history of France, and how Paris became the city as we know it today. Rutherford unfolds this history as with his other epic novels: Families are introduced early in the history of Paris, and through the intermingling of these families they grow as does this magnificent city. Through the development of Paris, Rutherford knits together a wonderful tale of subjects familiar to all of us: from royalty to the commoner, from the wars implicating France and from the building of iconic landmarks as we know them today. I love being transported through time by history, and what beter way than through the history of the great cities of the world as written by Rutherford.
MairL More than 1 year ago
"Paris" takes you into the lives of several families over about 500 years, threads weaving in and out. Extended stops during Louis XIV, the Revolution, but especially late 19th century (Impressionism, Eiffel). If you love fiction ensconced in real history, you will be in for a great ride.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Definitely not the author`s best work•would be better if chapters were in chronological order instead of skipping around. But need to include if collector of this author or anyone else who writes a la Miichener.
Go4Jugular More than 1 year ago
This sweeping, Michener-esque epic is an outstanding tale focused on Paris and Parisian culture. It is a work of historical fiction, following various members of six families back and forth from the 1200s through WW II. The family trees in the front of the book are invaluable, as this is an extensive and detailed tome, but despite there being a series of small dramas, rather than a single climax toward which the story builds, the characters are engaging and the stories never feel slow or contrived. The chapters that follow a ironworker constructing the Statue of Liberty, to which we later return when he is helping build the Eiffel Tower, were particular favorites. The struggles and triumphs of multiple generations combine to create a comprehensive picture of how historical and cultural events transpired to influence the growth and evolution of one of the great cities in the world. I read this as a prelude to a visit to Paris later this year, and for 800 pages it engaged my attention and introduced the city in a way that no non-fiction history or travel book could.
MWgal More than 1 year ago
As captivating as his London epic. Rutherfurd is fabulous!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rutherfurd boils down a sweeping history of Paris for those of us who weren't paying attention during high school history.
fedretiree More than 1 year ago
It's great.  His books bring history to life through the vivid personalities he creates.  First 100 pages can be a little confusing as the characters jump back and forth in different eras.  Stick with it!   couldn't put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Merci monsieur Rutherford.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another wonderful read!
pumpernickel1997 More than 1 year ago
I mean this is the first that I've read from this author and I will say though the plot is magnificent and the history that tags along with it is all brilliant it does get very confusing going back and forth through the time periods and using the same names as the ancestors and all that so it takes away the interest a bit. I'm over here flipping back and forth to make sure I know who I am reading about.
Maertel More than 1 year ago
Sure hope that when this is reissued, there is a BIG foldout map with dark lettering included. Line drawings of each of the landmarks mentioned would also be welcome. Compelling stories all intertwined in unusual and surprising ways...we just wish that Marie would have rejected de Cygne for his anti Jewish stance.
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This should have been titled "Amanda's vacation to Paris." It takes you to all the hot spots!
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