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Publishers Weekly, 1998-06-01 There is a self-indulgent charm about this mini-history of the Marais (former marshes), corresponding to Paris's third arrondissement, that is hard to resist. Karmel, who fell in love with the city in his teens and later married a Frenchwoman, owns a fifth-floor walk-up in the Marais at the corner of rue des Rosiers and rue Vieille-du-Temple. He invites us to share his delight in the neighborhood and his delving into its history. But despite his affection for the Marais and his elegant, leisured prose, this is not a book for the armchair traveler. You have to be there with this slim, illustrated volume in hand. Turning the pages, you could stroll past the house where Beaumarchais wrote The Marriage of Figaro or visit the Museum of the History of Paris in the Hôtel Carnavalet, knowing that the greatest literary gossip of all France, Madame de Sévigné, made it her home. The area has gone through a number of misguided attempts at modernization, the author reports, but a combination of chance and economics has preserved its character and some of its great mansions. In the end, the reader is left with envy for anyone with a pied à terre in such a wonderful place?and a feeling that the narrow streets remain just out of reach. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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