The Emperor of Paris

Like his father before him, Octavio runs the Notre-Dame bakery, and knows the secret recipe for the perfect Parisian baguette. But, also like his father, Octavio has never mastered the art of reading and his only knowledge of the world beyond the bakery door comes from his own imagination. Just a few streets away, Isabeau works out of sight in the basement of the Louvre, trying to forget her disfigured beauty by losing herself in the paintings she restores and the stories she reads. The two might never have met, but for a curious chain of coincidences involving a mysterious traveller, an impoverished painter, a jaded bookseller, and a book of fairytales, lost and found …

Reviews

It is at once a painterly novel and a writerly one, the language delivered in the careful, enigmatic, deliberately restrained brush strokes of an impressionist, the whole image only gradually emerging into view as the sentences accrue. The spareness of Richardson’s approach has the opposite effect of what one might expect: his restraint with details lends weight and significance to every word, every image, and the novel shimmers with the heightened clarity of a dream… .
National Post

“It’s hard to rave noisily about such a quietly beautiful novel, but I will try. The Emperor of Paris is brilliant; it lingers; I will read it again, and again. (In fact, I will read every novel Richardson writes.) If you love finely crafted sentences and spare, elegant prose; if you love charming characters and a tender, affecting story; if you love books and Paris and boulangeries, you will love this novel.”
The Globe and Mail

“It is much too early in the year to be picking the year’s best books but I will be shocked if I read 5 novels better than [The Emperor of Paris] in 2012. Well, I’d be delighted actually as that would mean I will have read at least 6 perfectly presented stories that make one think back, meditate, feel and enjoy in warmth and human sympathy.”
Herald de Paris

The Emperor of Paris is a metaphorical feast for the senses, each sentence offering up some little detail—a richly hued peacock feather, a dash of raspberry jam—to linger over and savour.”
Winnipeg Free Press

 “The Emperor of Paris is a rich and well-told story of the transcendent power of art; it would not be surprising if it were to gain even greater accolades than The End of the Alphabet.”
Quill & Quire

“It is at once a painterly novel and a writerly one, the language delivered in the careful, enigmatic, deliberately restrained brush strokes of an impressionist, the whole image only gradually emerging into view as the sentences accrue. The spareness of Richardson’s approach has the opposite effect of what one might expect: his restraint with details lends weight and significance to every word, every image, and the novel shimmers with the heightened clarity of a dream… . the reader will be swept up, and will read with anxious, bated breath, yearning for that destined moment, that perfect singularity and culmination.”
—The Calgary Herald