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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Revisiting Paris

Another book intersection occurred in my reading this week. This time it was in Paris, the City of Light. In Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell, twelve-year-old Sophie comes to Paris with her guardian (though not her legal guardian) Charlie in search of the mother she knows must be alive, despite all evidence to the contrary. Mothers are a thing you need, like air, she thought, and water. Even paper mothers were better than nothing-even imaginary ones. Mothers were a place to put down your heart. They were a resting stop to recover your breath. (p.32). Found by Charlie in a cello case after the wreck of the Queen Mary, Sophie has led an extraordinary life, but the lives of the Rooftoppers - children without homes who live on the roofs of Paris sometime around 1890 - are almost unfathomable to her. Yet she, whose hair is the color of lightning, is drawn to the rooftops, seeking the sound of Fauré's Requiem played in double time.

The End of Light: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artifical Light by Paul Bogard has taken me to Paris as an observer of how light has forced the redefinition of night. I did not walk the streets in the dark, out of fear, I suppose. After reading the chapter "Tales From Two Cities" (the other city being London), I wish I had walked the same streets as the author and Francois Jousse, the man who for more than 30 years has been responsible for lighting the monuments and bridges of Paris. The books is so much more than a portrait of Paris, of course, and I encourage people to evaluate the use of lighting in the world through this book. The Notes section is especially entertaining.

As Charlie tells Sophie, "Books crowbar the world open for you." 


  1. Both sound so interesting & being a bit of a Paris-o-phile, I will request them from my library! Merci!

  2. PS Blueberry Potato Chip arrived, beautiful & gorgeous! You honored me! Something coming your way shortly!! Merci mille fois, mon amie!!

  3. I like Charlie's quote you included at the end!

  4. I enjoyed our discussion about these books this past week during our walk. We really have lost total darkness, but I feel more than that, I feel I have lost touch with all of nature. I get outside so seldom, and not for very long stretches. I'd like to make more effort in enjoying nature than just through my windows.