April 21, 2021

Edward Rutherfurd, historical fiction writer

I love getting recommendations from friends and colleagues so I tip my beret to Jaime Krohn who turned me on to historical fiction writer, Edward Rutherfurd. Why isn’t this guy a household name? He chooses gigantic historical topics and then proceeds to make it understandable on a micro level with characters who live through wars, political upheavals, marriages, births, deaths and social intrigue.

His list of published books reads like a really serious library book shelf (London, New York, Russka, The Princes of Ireland, to name a few) and the tomes weigh in just under 1,000 pages but be not afraid, Rutherfurd will make history literally a joy to read with his interweaving plots and vivid characters. Even those who sniff at historical fiction may want to give  him a try.

No small surprise, I was immediately attracted to his book entitled Paris. We  follow selected members of six French families as they interact with historical characters and events from 1261 to 1968. Be forewarned that you will have to note the dates at the beginnings of chapters since the author skips around with flashbacks.

An ironworker in the book helps build both the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower. The Paris Commune is brought to life as a military man is ordered to execute a group of rebellious “communards.” Aristocrats collide with the “trade class;” Catholics commit a mass murder of Protestants; Jews are driven from the City of Light; major characters cope with both World Wars; famous poets, artists, musicians and writers make cameo appearances. The epilogue deals with student riots in 1968 bringing the sweeping canvas to a close. I am an avid student of French history but this book clarified many important events that were previously murky in my memory and understanding.

Rutherford, a disciple of author James Michener started with his novel Sarum in 1987 which is a 10,000 year account of merry old England. That goes on my “to read” list, but may I confess that I need some 100 page books to give my arms a rest before diving back into the wonderful historical world of Edward Rutherfurd.

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