Tuesday, August 14, 2012

New Today: The Emperor of Paris by CS Richardson

It will surprise no one who knows this backstory at all that CS Richardson’s second novel, The Emperor of Paris (Doubleday Canada) is an exceedingly beautiful book. This, of course, before you even open it. Richardson is an award-winning book designer and the active creative director at Random House Canada. While he didn’t, of course, design his own book, it’s a good bet that those who did design it moved carefully through the process. It would be a careless designer, indeed, who moved incautiously over the physical manifestation of the words of their boss.

It turns out that The Emperor of Paris is a beautiful book in other ways, as well. You get the idea that Richardson the writer is as concerned with detail as is Richardson the designer.

An illiterate Parisian baker is the master of the baguette, despite the fact that he cannot read. Not at all far away, in the basement of the Louvre, hidden from the world and completely engrossed in literature and art is a woman who our baker would be unlikely to ever meet. That these two should could together at all is extraordinary, but Richardson manages the connection with fate, coincidence and mystery.

Like Richardson’s 2007 debut novel, The End of the Alphabet, The Emperor of Paris is a rare gem of a book. The prose is considered, yet light and engaging. The plot is careful, ephemeral and tightly wound. The book picks you up, then spins you along. Sharply, sweetly unforgettable. ◊

Linda L. Richards is the editor of January Magazine and the author of several books.



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