The Emperor of Paris

The Emperor of Paris

[a Novel]

Book - 2012
Average Rating:
10
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Like his father before him, Octavio runs the Notre-Dame bakery, and knows the secret recipe for the perfect Parisian baguette. But, also like his father, Octavio has never mastered the art of reading and his only knowledge of the world beyond the bakery door comes from his own imagination. Just a few streets away, Isabeau works out of sight in the basement of the Louvre, trying to forget her disfigured beauty by losing herself in the paintings she restores and the stories she reads. The two might never have met, but for a curious chain of coincidences involving a mysterious traveller, an impoverished painter, a jaded bookseller, and a book of fairytales, lost and found.
Publisher: [Toronto] : Doubleday Canada, c2012
Description: 278 p. ; 21 cm
ISBN: 9780385670906
Branch Call Number: Rich

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2
21221018293347
Jun 27, 2015

This is his second book I have read. His writing style is quite different but very engaging as he shifts between characters and time periods. The creations of his characters are superb, detailed yet simple. It is a love story at a very pure level. I also recommend his first book, which I believe is named, 'The End of the Alphabet'

patcumming Nov 28, 2014

There is something about the way that Richardson tells a love story that is totally engaging. His characters are so wonderfully created and his writing is superb.

g
GLNovak
Nov 04, 2014

This little book is very deceptive. You begin it and think "the sections are small. There's probably not much to it. I should be able to pick this up and put it down" but you can't. The introduction of the various characters takes place over time and over different time periods, and you have to pay attention. The lyrical, evocative, rich language and imagery will paint gorgeous pictures in your head, and in some places take over from the underlying story, basically a love at first sight kind of story. Using Paris as a backdrop is inspired. The city has a mystique that has always drawn people to it, and has always made living there a bit special. Richardson has used books and art to set the scenes for bringing colour, adventure, mystery, romance to what would otherwise be very ordinary lives.

b
bshokal
Nov 26, 2013

I initially found the story disjointed and slow, not really holding my attention. However, as I progressed through the story, my interest began to increase and began paying attention to "stories" within the story. The use of color, light and dark, image, perceptions, and imagination in chance encounters that ultimately leads to the meeting of the protagonists is absolutely wonderful. The story underlines the impact of how one event has reverberating consequences in very unexpected ways. Indeed, after finishing the book, I reread it again with a new perspective and appreciated the story so much more.

r
rakusa88
Jul 20, 2013

A pleasant and well-written foray into the quotidian, intersecting lives of a colourful cast of Parisians in the early 20th century. Ideal for patient reading over a short period of time. Slow pacing but packed with culture, history and sentiment.

What this book excelled at was its attention to detail. The descriptions of the beautiful venues, specific tasks (painting, baking), personal stories, thoughts and memories, allow readers to envision and embody the characters with ease. I also appreciated the theme of the importance of storytelling, as a means of connecting people in a fortuitous and meaningful manner throughout the tale.

My misgivings with the novel are mostly directed at its structure. The Emperor of Paris flits between characters and sporadically leaps around in time. I read it continuously over the long weekend and still had a hard time properly immersing myself into the story.

v
vwruleschick
Apr 15, 2013

Paris, France, late 1800s/early 1900s. Meet Octavio, his family runs the Notre-Dame Bakery and there is Isabeau, whose family who is in fashion. Reading this story felt like a bakery weaving an artisan bread together or an artist painting showing spotlights of each other's lives and how their life paths come to fruition. Love how the author describes colours and references to books throughout the story of searching for oneself, friendship, forgiveness and love.

Cdnbookworm Dec 15, 2012

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.

b
bowenbo
Dec 11, 2012

Good book although it did not quite live up to the publicity. Too many characters in such a short book.

s
SPL_Laura
Oct 30, 2012

I made the mistake of reading this book in bits and pieces until finally cracking down and inhaling the second half. I think this is why the book got so much better for me as I continued to read so my advice would be to take some time and allow yourself to engage with the book. The characters are vivid without slowing the pace of the narrative and the historical setting is nicely captured though not neccessary as The Emperor of Paris is a truly timeless tale.

e
epreid
Sep 18, 2012

This is a jewel of a book that weaves together the lives of many characters with small links and insights. You can see them getting closer and closer and you are holding your breath waiting for them to intersect. Wonderful.

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