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This unique and intensely involving book evokes the texture and atmosphere of a hidden Paris which has survived against all the odds of time and chance. Gillian Tindall is well known for her ability to breathe a passionate life into the generations of those who have walked this earth before us. Here, using a handful of lives and a specific location to exemplify 200 years of history, she focuses on a few of the oldest streets in Paris s Latin Quarter. Her study shows how Paris has drawn into its magnetic field people who have variously found there education or enlightenment, a refuge or a secret garden, even a different identity. Half a dozen individuals, all related in some way, reveal a web of human feeling and experiences across two centuries. There is the young doctor who walked all the way from Edinburgh to Paris at the time of Napoleon s downfall; the self-made Victorian businessman who traded with the brash capital of the Second Empire; his reserved son who found in the old stones of Paris a refuge from his fraught childhood; Maud, the archetypal English spinster, who somehow managed to construct an alternative existence in Paris; and Julia, young and desperate, who found he
Gillian Tindall is a master of miniaturist history, making much of an unknown person or single situation, and staking out a particular territory in idiosyncratic non-fiction that is brilliantly evocative of place. She lives in Kentish Town, the subject of her book The Fields Beneath- The History of One London Village.