Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

Sonderbooks Stand-out 2005
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***The Secret Life of the Seine

by Mort Rosenblum

Reviewed December 11, 2005.
Da Capo Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2001.  First published in 1994.  290 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (944.34 ROS).
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2005 (#3, Cross-Cultural)

Mort Rosenblum was enjoying living in Paris.  He laughed at his friend Paul, who came to work with stories of the hardships of living on a boat on the Seine.  However, when his landlord kicked out Mort and his wife, they talked Paul into selling.

“Paul and Jill had decided to move to England, and they were looking for friendly hands to take the helm.  I was a reluctant candidate, a son of Arizona desert and a klutz with wrench or varnish brush.  It took only one lunch on deck.  The spring air was electric.  Dutch barges lazed past, piloted by housewives in slippers and patrolled by stubby dogs trained to coil rope with their teeth.  Tugs puffed by, their wakes sloshing the Burgundy in our glasses.  On neighboring boats and along the quai, I watched characters Hugo had missed and Flaubert never imagined.  Along with foul water, I saw waterfowl.  It had to be Paris because the Eiffel Tower loomed over the golden cherubs on the Pont Alexandre III.  But we were also somewhere else, in a place most Parisians seldom see.”

I love cross-cultural stories of making a life in a different country.  This one is quite different from any of the others.  Besides telling about living among the French, Mort Rosenblum tells about the history of the Seine and river people and life on the river.

This book doesn’t exactly make absorbing reading, but it is very interesting, and I enjoyed dipping into it from time to time.  It presents a side of Paris much different from the usual one you see as a tourist.

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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