Let's start with a favorite, "Paris," by Edward Rutherfurd. I love this historical fiction writer's style, taking a region (or in this case, a city) and following it throughout history through the lives of several families whose lives intersect over the generations. With Rutherfurd we step onto the scaffolding as the Eiffel Tower is being built, back to the court of Marie Antoinette, through the revolutions and the World Wars, and much in-between. His handy family tree chart in the front of the book guides you as he jumps from one period and then back to another in a somewhat non-linear fashion. That took some getting used to but once I did, I was hooked and read like a crazy girl! Good writing, good history, good characters!
David Downie moved from San Francisco to Paris in 1986. "Paris, Paris: Journey Into the City of Light" chronicles his life as a new Parisian, He breaks the city down into categories such as Paris Places ("The Luxembourg Gardens," "Ile Saint-Louis," "Place des Vosges," and seven others); Paris People ("Coco Chanel," Les Bouquinistes, "Midnight, Montmartre and Modigliani," "Paris Artisans," and six others and Paris Phenomena ("A Dog's Life," "Why the Maris Changed Its Spots," "Life's a Cafe" and eight more).His writing style is engaging and whether you relate to the topics because having been there -- or because you'd like to be, I think you'll find it most enjoyable.
And now for something completely different, "Death in the City of Light" by David King. This true story focuses on Dr. Marcel Petoit, a serial killer who charmed Paris during the Nazi occupation. He preyed upon the city's most vulnerable who were seeing to escape the city and the Gestapo and subjecting them after death to a different crematorium -- the one in his own basement. It is well written, shocking and fascinating.
Finally, one I didn't like so much -- "A Town Like Paris" by Bryce Corbett. OK, I think this is a case of age coming through. Corbett moved from a routine London job to a relatively routine Paris job, simply to try something new and live in Paris for a bit. He was young, twenty-eight and living the wild and crazy life that lots of younger people do -- work, party, party some more. For awhile it was entertaining. After awhile I just wanted to say "grow up." And he finally does, sort of. But not soon enough for me. Might be your new favorite, who can say?
There are others on my pile I haven't read yet, not the least of which is David McCullough's "The Greatest Journey." His writing usually falls into the "favorite pile." Hopefully this one does, too!
This post is part of Tamara's Paris In July blog event. For more posts related to travel, books, movies and Paris history, photography and more, check the right-hand column of her blog at Thyme for Tea!