Amy's Reviews > Paris to the Past: Traveling through French History by Train

Paris to the Past by Ina Caro
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's review
Sep 10, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: france-paris
Read in September, 2011

Not a guidebook to take with you. Read before you go, or read when you're at home wishing you were in France. A good starter for ideas for day trips. A light pre-read.

An editor could have made the author's voice more consistent: either an approachable history lecture tone, or an intimate/personal story tone. Either be a docent, or be a bubbly Sister Wendy. The book alternates tone, as if the author keeps interrupting herself. I read snippets here and there, not the whole book (or even half), so I didn't pick up on any elitism. I just think the author's so genuinely enthusiastic that when she goes to Paris, she almost does expect to meet up with Henry IV. She also doesn't like to dwell on incidents like the St. Bartholomew's Massacre, incidents that aren't nice dinner conversation.

A few photos would have been nice too.

Here's one thing this author did that I haven't seen before: she describes the insides of landmark buildings in Paris that are open to the public only a few days a year. The Luxembourg Palace, the interior of the Palais-Royal. I didn't know about these Journees du Patrimoine, when everyone can go in and look around.

So, I'm glad I skimmed this one. I personally wouldn't buy it, but I did learn a few things. I think for the author's next project, it would be interesting to do a collection about more recent Paris history. She's been visiting and living there since at least the 1960s, it seems. Her stories about how the city has changed since then would be a good read. No royalty, and perhaps more about the little villages and working class neighborhoods that are trying to keep their own identities.
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