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 her own unlikely salvation there in a very different era.Readers will become familiar with the texture of the Left Bank - its network of streets, its hotels and courtyards, churches,hospices and bookshops. Here is the resonance of 'Bohemia? with its students and artists, garrets and cafes, and 'Gay Paree? with its music halls and courtesans. Here is Marat murdered in his bath; Haussmann driving boulevards through medieval alleys in order to create the ideal city; chroniclers of Paris such as Zola, George du Maurier and Orwell. But featured far more than the famous are the unsung citizens for whom Gillian Tindall has such empathy.
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.