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The Emperor of Paris [Deckle Edge] [Hardcover]

CS Richardson
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 25.00
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Book Description

Aug. 14 2012

Like his father before him, Octavio runs the Notre-Dame bakery, and knows the secret recipe for the perfect Parisian baguette. But, also like his father, Octavio has never mastered the art of reading and his only knowledge of the world beyond the bakery door comes from his own imagination. Just a few streets away, Isabeau works out of sight in the basement of the Louvre, trying to forget her disfigured beauty by losing herself in the paintings she restores and the stories she reads. The two might never have met, but for a curious chain of coincidences involving a mysterious traveller, an impoverished painter, a jaded bookseller, and a book of fairytales, lost and found . . .


Frequently Bought Together

The Emperor of Paris + The End of the Alphabet
Price For Both: CDN$ 28.64

  • The End of the Alphabet CDN$ 12.96

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Review

“It is at once a painterly novel and a writerly one, the language delivered in the careful, enigmatic, deliberately restrained brush strokes of an impressionist, the whole image only gradually emerging into view as the sentences accrue. The spareness of Richardson’s approach has the opposite effect of what one might expect: his restraint with details lends weight and significance to every word, every image, and the novel shimmers with the heightened clarity of a dream. . . .
National Post

“It’s hard to rave noisily about such a quietly beautiful novel, but I will try. The Emperor of Paris is brilliant; it lingers; I will read it again, and again. (In fact, I will read every novel Richardson writes.) If you love finely crafted sentences and spare, elegant prose; if you love charming characters and a tender, affecting story; if you love books and Paris and boulangeries, you will love this novel.”
The Globe and Mail

“It is much too early in the year to be picking the year’s best books but I will be shocked if I read 5 novels better than [The Emperor of Paris] in 2012. Well, I’d be delighted actually as that would mean I will have read at least 6 perfectly presented stories that make one think back, meditate, feel and enjoy in warmth and human sympathy.”
Herald de Paris

The Emperor of Paris is a metaphorical feast for the senses, each sentence offering up some little detail—a richly hued peacock feather, a dash of raspberry jam—to linger over and savour.”
Winnipeg Free Press

 “The Emperor of Paris is a rich and well-told story of the transcendent power of art; it would not be surprising if it were to gain even greater accolades than The End of the Alphabet.”
Quill & Quire

“It is at once a painterly novel and a writerly one, the language delivered in the careful, enigmatic, deliberately restrained brush strokes of an impressionist, the whole image only gradually emerging into view as the sentences accrue. The spareness of Richardson’s approach has the opposite effect of what one might expect: his restraint with details lends weight and significance to every word, every image, and the novel shimmers with the heightened clarity of a dream. . . . the reader will be swept up, and will read with anxious, bated breath, yearning for that destined moment, that perfect singularity and culmination.”
—The Calgary Herald

About the Author

CS RICHARDSON's first novel, The End of the Alphabet, was an international bestseller published in thirteen countries and ten languages. Winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best Book (Canada & the Caribbean), it was named on four Best of the Year lists and was adapted for radio drama by BBC Radio 4. Richardson is also an accomplished and award-winning book designer. He lives and works in Toronto.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lyrical and charming Sept. 5 2012
By sean s. TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
CS Richardson is a writer based in Toronto. His previous novel, The End of the Alphabet, won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for best first book. In interviews he has identified the great Argentinian author Jorge Luis Borges as an influence, and in terms of style and rich literary culture, this can certainly be seen. However, unlike Borges, Richardson's subject matter is sweetly sentimental.

The Emperor of Paris is the circuitous story of how Octavio Notre-Dame and Isabeau Normande come together and find love.

Despite their physical proximity, they are an unlikely couple who belie the grandiloquent title of the novel: he, a humble baker, she, working in the basement of the Louvre restoring art. Both play uncelebrated roles that nonetheless contribute to what is quintessentially Parisian: food and culture.

Richardson is an impeccable stylist, which makes this "period piece" all the more compelling. He has a good feel for the Paris of the early 20th century, and his love for the city shines through: both its high culture, and the everyday, grittier culture of the street. He has a great way of subtly communicating the unspoken social codes that to this day rule Paris more firmly than any mere government:

"The bakery's location in a building named for a pastry confection was an irony lost on no one. For centuries there had been an order to the world, a natural division of gastronomic labours. Bakers worked their dough, pastry men fussed with their marzipan. Each kept to his own, begrudging enough if he found himself walking past the other's shop. To feed your family, you were off to the boulangerie. Weakness for a macaron meant a trip to the patisserie and be quick about it. It was a sensible order: everyone knew to visit a fruit seller when looking for a squash was foolishness; dogs and cats in the same litter meant the end of civilization."

A lyrical and charming book. Recommended !
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richardson's Emperor a Magnificent Read Sept. 30 2012
By shend
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
C.S. Richardson's 'The Emperor of Paris' is a book that should be read at least twice, once to follow the storyline and characters and a second time just to savor his use of language, both as narration and description. Richardson's 'Emperor' is a deeper book than his 'End of the Alphabet' ; there are more characters, each of whom develops across a time span of three decades, and the book is rooted in a particular arrondissement in Paris. To go further would risk giving away the plot, and doing so in a way that would not do the writing justice. Simply put, this is a wonderful collection of stories, elegantly written and with an artist's eye for detail and observation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfection July 19 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Another beautifully written book by CS Richardson. This author, this writer has perfected the writing craft. His use of language and story telling is masterful. Paris becomes alive with every sentence. The characters glow. I loved this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely, loving story May 29 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The City of Paris and its inhabitants are the background, one small neighbourhood and the Louvre are the setting. Wonderful characters, well drawn. Worth re-reading and I don't often do that.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars beautiful read. a classic in the making May 23 2013
By Lynne Frappier TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
This book is pure magic. At the beginning you might scratch your head and wonder "where the heck is this story going?!" or even "is this a collection of short stories?" ... but that's where the magic begins. A baker and his wife have a boy. A designer and his wife have a daughter. The painter who isn't quite good enough for the master's to teach him and the booksellers son who is doomed to share his father and grandfather's fate - sitting on the side of the river hoping to sell a book or two. Independently all of these stories sound unimpressive ... and yet they all come together with such grace and through such beautiful imagery. I couldn't put it down. The joy of reading and telling stories, the beauty of pictures and what they bring to people. A classic in the making. This is truly a book meant for book lovers and readers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful April 17 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The Emperor of Paris is a beautiful, and melancholic, love story. The series of characters and plotlines are interwoven in a natural way that doesn't seem forced, which makes their small interactions all the more plausible despite some of their fantastical characteristics. Loved it.
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