Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Cassoulet's First Book Review!

On a gloomy day, last Thursday, with nothing special having happened all day, I was complaining of boredom when I heard the familiar screech of a brown delivery truck coming to a halt in front of my house. We all ran for the door, each hoping it was something for us personally. It was my turn, though. My name was on the package! I opened up the well-travelled cardboard box and this is what it contained:

I love books, especially of places I've been. I was excited to view the photos in this one, but honestly I didn't have high expectations for it. I like coffee table books, but most of them never have enough information to satisfy my "who-what-when-where-how" inquisitive mind. And let's face it, books on Paris are becoming a dime-a-dozen thing, what with Ross single-handedly curbing the appetite for Parisian paraphernalia.
I wasn't feeling so well, so I changed into my pj's right away and settled into my red papasan chair with the book, thinking I'd get through it in about 15 minutes at the most. I was wrong.
Historic Photos of Paris, by Rebecca Schall, is a visual timeline of Paris dating back to the mid-1800's. Each photograph is clearly explained, with dates, events and background. Each chapter (time period) begins with a rundown of the historical happenings and photos to back it up. There is sufficient reading to be done, fortunately. One of my favorite photos is this one:
It is Paris as it was before it became the epitome of chic-ness we now associate it with. It was the slums. It was a disease ridden, rodent infested, City of Filth. Trash, raw sewage and who-knows-what freely flowed into the water supply, resulting in countless deaths. Aren't we glad that changed! This book shows us the changes as they took place through intriguing photography that gives us a crystal clear picture that is most definitely worth a thousand words.
Another favorite photo is this one, documenting the historic flood of Paris in the early 20th century.
Only in Paris can walking across a plank look so glamorous!

This book kept my interest and I found myself sad when I reached the end. I love history when I've been to a place. I was able to recognize places in the photos that my own two feet have tread, but decades and even a century later.
This is a must have book for any Paris lover. If you wish to see more pages, click here to see a short video. Enjoy!


My Inner French Girl said...

Bonjour, CC! What a coincidence! I'll be reviewing the book next week as well! We probably got hit by the same publicist. ;-)

Like you, I was amazed at the photos. I've always thought most Parisian photobooks were rather ho-hum, you know? All gorgeous landscapes, but all empty of character, of people and life. But this one...oh, this one's different.

I hope you're doing well. I'm still catching up on my blog reading and am so happy to be reading yours. Have a lovely day!


Cris in Oregon said...

Looks like a wonderful book. I love the pictures. I'd like to read it too. Can I borrow yours? LOL

Cassoulet Cafe said...

Marjorie!!! :) I am overjoyed to hear from you! I've been missing you...hope you'll be posting again soon. Both you and LBR have been gone...sniff.

I wondered how many of us would be receiving/reviewing the book. I am not good at book reviews, but I did love this book. I can't wait to read your review!

We leave next week for France, so I'm really stressed/excited/happy/sad/etc :) But yes, doing well! :)

Ton amie,

Cassoulet Cafe said...

Of course you can borrow mine! I know you'd love it!

Anonymous said...

Is that the book that shows a picture of a frozen Seine? I've been trying to find that pic online for ages!

My Inner French Girl said...

Dear CC, what??? You're leaving already? It seems like only yesterday that you first began planning it! Wow, this year's gone by fast.

I'm so delighted to be back on the blogosphere as well! I've missed everyone terribly and am all back in business. So on that happy note: Tag, you're it. ;-)


Cassoulet Cafe said...

Colleen, Yep, it surely is!!! :) I ALMOST posted that photo, because I love it, as well as the frozen fountain photo.

b said...

Thank you for this incredible recommendation. I will certainly be purchasing this book immediately and relishing the history with photographs!!

Anonymous said...

wellllll, how's the france planning going? are you excited or what?!?!

Betty C. said...

Did you just get the book sent to you, or did you solicit it? I did one book review when I was writing for Well Fed and would like to do more, but I'm not quite sure how to get the ball rolling.

Gervy said...

It does look like a gorgeous book. And it gives me a thrill too to see old photos of places which have become dear to me: http://gervorama.blogspot.com/2008/01/london-then-and-now.html