Friday, May 22, 2015

Dark in the City of Light by Paul Robertson | Book Review

Dark in the City of Light

This doesn't happen often, and I hate when it does, but I just never clicked at all with this book.  2 of 5 stars.

My aunt sent this to me to help with my PopSugar Reading Challenge, as it's "a book with antonyms in the title."  She only rated it a little better than I did.  I think part of the disconnect was the setting; I'm not in any way familiar in the least with 1870s Paris or with the machinations of the Franco-Prussian War.

The book follows a family as they navigate politics and intrigue in Paris in the lead-up to the Franco-Prussian War.  The family is Austrian, but the father figure's position as Austrian ambassador to France means they live in Paris.  There's Baron Ferdinand, his son Rudolph (roughly college-age), and his daughter Therese (late teens).  The Baron's wife is the owner of Europe's largest cinnabar (used to make military-grade mercury) mine, and three countries are vying for private contracts.  After her sudden death, the Baron is in charge of the mines, until Rudolph turns 23.  Now those three countries (France, Prussia, and Britain) are courting the men in the family.  

I think there was supposed to be a feeling of build up in tension?  But it was a lot of talking and plotting.  And Therese was supposed to be involved somehow, but I just felt like she got in the way.  I don't know... I suppose someone with more knowledge of or interest in European history would enjoy this book much more than I did.

I totally appreciate that my aunt sent me this.  It was a unique read for me; the last French historical novel I read was Les Miserables, and that was three years ago.  It's good for me to step slightly outside my usual reads.  I don't regret the time spent reading it (it's not overly long), and it gave me another check off on my reading challenge.  Has anyone else read this one?  Did I just miss something?

*I received my copy of Dark in the City of Light from my aunt.  Thank you!

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