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The Road from the Past: Traveling through…
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The Road from the Past: Traveling through History in France

by Ina Caro

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39. The Road from the Past : Traveling Through History in France by Ina Caro (1994, 329 pages, read Aug 6-24)

Reading themes that led me here (an experimental entry): TBR pile & general interest in pre-19th-century European history

I'll conclude up front: This was an enjoyable but flawed book. Ina Caro is apparently something of an medieval history expert, although her bibliography here does seem limited. She is perhaps an OK author, but there are some awkward aspects in this book.

What I didn't like - the opening paragraph in the introduction which includes the line: "When I see the typical American tourist, I feel like yelling out, 'Don't do it that way, it's no fun. Do it my way.". The book is targeted to Americans and line is intended to be helpful...but if I had read that in the a book store, I would have put the book back down and maybe gone and wiped my hands with something. To her credit, this line is consistent with her real feelings. Ostensibly a travel book, it only works that way if, like Ina Caro, your spouse is a successful author and you and your spouse have the time and means to spend a month or so in France about every year.

I'm being too harsh?

But there are good parts here too. She does two things well. The first is that this serves as a quick and mostly painless and entertaining overview of the history of France. I did enjoy it. The second is her habit of describing her day in some location, and all the wonderful little experiences she has, then moving immediately to the history of gore and slaughter that underlies it. It's striking and effective. I had never heard of the Albigensian Crusade, but Ina Caro has left me absolutely fascinated by it.

The book works until about the end of the hundred years war (She does well with Joan of Arc, by the way). As the French kings become more secure in the power, the book become more a repetitive description of various palaces.

To read this in the context of my LT thread, go here: http://www.librarything.com/topic/154187#4319915 ( )
1 vote dchaikin | Oct 11, 2013 |
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Most people return from Europe with a memory of the places they have visited that is very much like a salad after it has been put through a Cuisinart. (Introduction, "Pâté and Palaces")
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0156003635, Paperback)

Caro takes us on an unforgettable driving tour of France, from Provence to the Loire Valley to Paris. With Caro as an epicurean, knowledgeable, and delightfully opinionated guide, we can always be sure to find the most breathtaking vistas, the most extraordinary châteaux, the most inspiring cathedrals, and the very best meals.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:32 -0400)

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