Sunday 4 November 2012

The Emperor of Paris

Finished November 3
The Emperor of Paris by C.S. Richardson

This novel, moves between several characters and between time, but is all set in the city of light, Paris.
I have read his first novel The End of the Alphabet, and enjoyed it, so made sure I bought this one when I learned he was going to be speaking at our library. This is a story of an illiterate baker, Octavio, one I suspect has a reading challenge like dyslexia, and of a woman who loves to read, Isabeau. It starts, however with their parents. Octavio's father Emile has similar reading challenges to him, and a reputation as the thinnest baker in Paris. The meeting between Emile and his wife has become a legend in their neighbourhood, repeated often. Octavio's arrival changed the dynamic between his parents, and Emile's war experience in the Great War changed that further. Isabeau's parents were also small business people, creating fashionable clothing for the middle class. After a childhood accident, Isabeau's mother became protective and limited her interaction with the outside world, but Isabeau found that her love of the pictures of the Louvre has led to her  independent life. Self-conscious and shy, Isabeau lives a life of intelligence and imagination, and Octavio's storytelling draws her attention.
Besides these main characters, there are several supporting characters who have a role bringing these two together. Each has their own story, tied to the city and their interaction with it.
I loved the way this story moved around, giving hints and leading you further and further into the lives of the characters.

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