Read Dawn of the Belle Epoque: The Paris of Monet, Zola, Bernhardt, Eiffel, Debussy, Clemenceau, and Their Friends by Mary McAuliffe Online


A humiliating military defeat by Bismarck's Germany, a brutal siege, and a bloody uprising Paris in 1871 was a shambles, and the question loomed, "Could this extraordinary city even survive?" Mary McAuliffe takes the reader back to these perilous years following the abrupt collapse of the Second Empire and France's uncertain venture into the Third Republic. By 1900, ParisA humiliating military defeat by Bismarck's Germany, a brutal siege, and a bloody uprising Paris in 1871 was a shambles, and the question loomed, "Could this extraordinary city even survive?" Mary McAuliffe takes the reader back to these perilous years following the abrupt collapse of the Second Empire and France's uncertain venture into the Third Republic. By 1900, Paris had recovered and the Belle Epoque was in full flower, but the decades between were difficult, marked by struggles between republicans and monarchists, the Republic and the Church, and an ongoing economic malaise, darkened by a rising tide of virulent anti-Semitism. Yet these same years also witnessed an extraordinary blossoming in art, literature, poetry, and music, with the Parisian cultural scene dramatically upended by revolutionaries such as Monet, Zola, Rodin, and Debussy, even while Gustave Eiffel was challenging architectural tradition with his iconic tower. Through the eyes of these pioneers and others, including Sarah Bernhardt, Georges Clemenceau, Marie Curie, and Cesar Ritz, we witness their struggles with the forces of tradition during the final years of a century hurtling towards its close. Through rich illustrations and evocative narrative, McAuliffe brings this vibrant and seminal era to life."...

Title : Dawn of the Belle Epoque: The Paris of Monet, Zola, Bernhardt, Eiffel, Debussy, Clemenceau, and Their Friends
Author :
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ISBN : 9781442209275
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 387 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Dawn of the Belle Epoque: The Paris of Monet, Zola, Bernhardt, Eiffel, Debussy, Clemenceau, and Their Friends Reviews

  • Marita
    2018-11-16 22:00

    Dawn of the Belle Époque is a book that may be consumed either all at once, or in delicious bite-sized pieces over a period of time. I chose to enjoy smallish morsels at a time, and then I diverted from time to time to other sources which provided more details on any given subject or person. Result? My appetite has been whet to read much more about various individuals.It is a chronological account of events in Paris during the years 1871-1900, and pretty much a timeline which provides details on a year-by-year basis of who was who and who did what during this highly creative period in French history. Whilst I call it a timeline, I should add that information is well fleshed out and is not simply presented as statements against dates. For example, the notorious Dreyfus affair is described in a considerable amount of detail. People, history, science, music, literature, art and architecture are all skillfully interwoven to provide a densely woven tapestry of that time. It is left to the reader to pick up the various threads as the information is not spoon-fed to provide one continuous story for each person mentioned, but really, that is not too difficult. However, there is an absolute wealth of information and many interesting snippets. Recommended to anyone interested in Belle Époque France. It is an interesting period of not only strife and turmoil, but also of fun, beauty and creativity. The book is amply illustrated with coloured pictures.The novel Paris makes good complementary reading.

  • Carol
    2018-11-05 01:59

    The Belle Epoque, an age from roughly the end of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871 to the onset of WWI in 1914. McAuliffe examines the earliest phase of the period, up to the turn of the century. As the term indicates, this was an era of wonderful cultural flowering. In literature, giants like Zola and Hugo were active. The list of painters and sculptors who emerged seems endless, including Toulouse-Lautrec, Manet, Monet, and Rodin. "To tell this incredibly complicated story, Ms. McAuliffe uses an interesting technique, one that might be identified more with fiction than nonfiction. Arranged chronologically into 28 chapters year by year from 1871 to 1900, the book consists of short scene-like vignettes featuring key historical figures and their actions during the year in question. Thus Dawn of the Belle Epoque reads more like a novel than an academic history."McAuliffe does not ignore the seamy underside of this glittering picture. She pays ample attention to the political turmoil, beginning with the horrors of the Paris Commune and ending with the disgrace of the Dreyfus Affair, which virtually dominated French political discourse for years. This is an excellent and honest portrayal of an exciting and vital era in European history.

  • Jaylia3
    2018-11-11 00:10

    Dawn of the Belle Époque has a cast of hundreds, but because many of them are well known, including Zola, Monet, Marie Curie, Gustave Eiffel, Debussy, and Sarah Bernhardt, it’s not hard to keep track of them. Details of individual lives are reported, I learned for instance that Degas was petulant, conservative and stubborn, but the book also has a broader scope. Almost every year from 1870 to 1900 has its own chapter, covering the politics, personalities, mood and culture of Paris as it moved toward the new century. While some aspects of the Belle Époque were not so belle/beautiful, notably the Dreyfus affair, it’s a fascinating era. A hundred years after the French Revolution, France was still deeply divided. Republican heirs of the revolution clashed with anarchists, and they both brawled, sometimes literally, with citizens who wanted a powerful Catholic Church and a return to rule by the monarchy or an heir of Napoleon. The back of the book has sources notes and a bibliography.

  • Philippe
    2018-10-24 18:57

    Sadly, I couldn’t bring myself to finish this book. After about a third I threw in the towel as I was getting bored and nervous at the same time. The chief problem has already been flagged by a number of other reviewers. The narrative is built around a timeline stretching from 1870 to 1900, with a year-by-year sequence of chapters. Each chapter is then conceived as a mosaic in which a more less fixed roster of luminaries makes its appearance. The effect is, on the one hand, highly disorienting. For example, in chapter 10 the story switches in the space of just a few pages from Manet to Dumas jr to Sarah Bernardt to the Statue of Liberty to the basilica of Sacré-Coeur to the Panama Canal to Flaubert and Goncourt. And this kind of pacing is kept up for several hundreds of pages. On the other hand, the unrelenting fragmentation brings with it a curious effect of stasis, as if one is reading the same story over and over again. McAuliffe’s perfunctory development of her characters is partly to blame for that too. These famous artists, political leaders and artefacts remain two dimensional creatures, frozen in cliché-laden poses: Clémenceau the agitator, Debussy the womanizer, debt-ridden Claude Monet, thoughtful Berthe Morisot, kittenish Sara Bernhardt, … It seems to me that McAuliffe, in effort to dramatize these postures, at times does not adhere to what is known as historical fact. That is another major defect of this book. For example, McAuliffe describes the critical reaction to the first private, ‘Impressionist’ exhibition in 1874 as ‘hostile bordering on hysteria, including warnings that this art form was so inherently vile that it threatened pregnant women and the moral order.’ Reality appeared to have been rather different. In Scott Schaefer’s excellent essay ‘Impressionism and the Public Imagination’ in xxx we read: “The ‘Première Exposition’ was widely covered in the press, with about 15 articles written about it. Of ten important reviews, six were very favorable to the concept and execution of the show itself, although somewhat mixed in their opinions of the individual paintings. Four reviews were thoroughly negative. (…) three of the six favorable critics were unstinting in there praise of the artists and their works.” So, McAuliffe seems to be right in asserting that the exhibition was not a commercial success, but it critical reception was far more differentiated than she makes us believe (and, perhaps, not at all unusual in 1870s Parisian critical landscape). The impression of blandness is reinforced by McAuliffe’s stilted prose that, as other reviewers have pointed out, tends to rely on fixed, formulaic turns of phrase. To me the language feels fake, feeding the suspicion that the author, despite an impressive bibliographic apparatus marshaled at the end of the book, does not master her material. Oddly, in other cases, McAuliffe fails to capture opportunities to enliven and dramatize the book’s narrative by simply reciting the facts. To give just one example, by the early 1870s Edouard Manet had been painting for over a decade without really encountering critical or commercial success. In 1872 he was ‘discovered’ by the important dealer Durand-Ruel. McAuliffe doesn’t mention this fact in the chapter devoted to the year 1872, but she casually brings it up later, when the timeline has reached 1880: “… the dealer brought twenty-two of Manet’s works – the first time the painter really sold anything.” In Beth Archer Brombert’s biography of Manet (Edouard Manet: Rebel in a Frock Coat), the story assumes much more weight and relief. Citing Durand-Ruel’s memoires, we learn that the dealer bought two lots of paintings on two consecutive days: one lot of 23 (not twenty-two) canvases for 35,000 francs and another lot for 16,000 francs. This would have been a remarkable windfall for any artist and Manet used to proceeds to lie low for a few months and move into a new, giant studio in a former fencing school. This is the revealing kind of detail that we miss in McAuliffe’s narration. ‘Dawn of the Belle Epoque’ is detailed in a cavalier, gossipy kind of way but does not really draw the reader into the fabric of this fascinating era. As a final example of the ‘wrong’ kind of detail, in her discussion of the year 1886 McAuliff mentions Debussy as spending his time reading at the Villa Médicis in Rome (where he was intitled to stay as prize winner of the Prix de Rome): “… he had read widely and gravitated toward the avant-garde Symbolists (among them, André Gide, Paul Valéry, and Mallarmé)”. In 1886 André Gide was just 17 years old and had published literally nothing … Is it possible that Mary McAuliffe wanted to write a book that would strike the reader in the way an impressionist painting impacts our eyes? A collection of disjointed dots and brush strokes that, considered from the right vantage point, radiates with sense and life? If so, ‘Dawn of the Belle Epoque’ unquestionably represents a failed attempt. Two stars. To be avoided.

  • Rebecca Grace
    2018-11-12 22:46

    First, let me say that I agree with the negative reviews from other readers, yet I loved it anyway. I do think that the author achieved an "Impressionistic effect" by telling the history of Paris from 1871 through 1900 in chronological order, with each chapter recounted in a smattering of many anecdotes in the lives of the prominent artists, writers and musicians who shaped the era. I can understand how those unfamiliar with the historical cast of characters would find this confusing, but those who are already familiar with Sarah Bernhardt, Emile Zola, Claude Monet, Claude Debussy etc. will have no trouble keeping track of who is who. Moreover, this organization of the book makes it much easier to get a "snapshot" of the mood of what was going on in Paris in a given year than organizing the book with entire chapters devoted to each historical figure, as some reviewers have suggested. After all, this is the way we come to know the politicians and celebrities of our own time -- not by reading their complete biographies ahead of time, but one headline and one news story at a time, interspersed with other news stories and headlines and weather reports and such. If the author's goal was to transport us to the Dawn of the Belle Epoche and enable us to experience the era through the eyes of those who lived through it, she has succeeded. I especially enjoyed the perspectives from Berthe Morisot's daughter and the excellent account of the connection between the Dreyfus Affair and the art world.

  • Michael
    2018-11-12 01:07

    Mary McAuliffe has produced a well-researched, well-organized, and delightfully readable book that covers the cultural history of Paris from the Commune to the death of Zola. In this period that saw the rise of Impressionism and Symbolism; the musical beginnings of Debussy, Ravel, and Satie; the construction of the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty; the opening of the Ritz paired with the innovative cuisine of Escoffier; the dominating stage presence of Bernhardt; the beginning of the political career of Clemenceau; and the playing out of the Dreyfus Affair, the author finds time to note the lesser-known history as well. The lives of Berthe Morisot and her daughter Julie Manet, the complicated family life of Monet, the roles of Le Chat Noir and Cabaret Au Lapin Agile in the artistic life of the city, the agon of Rodin, and Misia Natanson's role as muse, all find attention and meaningful connection with the evolution of Paris in this remarkable work. It must be read by any with an interest in the fabled Belle Epoque and a love for the City of Light.

  • ❂ Jennifer
    2018-10-22 22:09

    An excellent encapsulated history of Paris and France from the events of the commune until 1900, focussing on the lives of the Impressionists, authors, actors, and musicians of the time. It's a great book for those that are interested in history without the academic analysis and statistics - it read like a novel.Full review:

  • Alex
    2018-10-23 18:02

    I mean, yeah, right? And Susanna really liked the sequel.

  • Tras
    2018-11-07 21:44

    Superb. Thoroughly enjoyed the way the author wove the stories of so many prominent artists, musicians, engineers, authors, politicians, actors et al, into a fascinating, entertaining, and coherent whole. Will be jumping right into the 'Twilight of the Belle Epoque'.

  • Gwen
    2018-10-27 02:03

    A bit scattered, but full of great tidbits and anecdotes about all of Paris' luminaries

  • Joseph Adelizzi, Jr.
    2018-11-14 18:40

    Much time has passed since I finished reading this enjoyable book, which, from a review perspective is bad and good. It's bad because I quickly forget details, especially after I start reading another book; it is very possible I'd mix the details of the previous read with details from my current read. How unfortunate and embarrassing would it be to be describing the beauty, the innovations, the influences, and even the ugliness of Paris and its surrounds and characters during the late 1800s and discover I've thrown in a detail about the sex-based society of the Bonobos?It's good because I can see which details from the book have stuck with me, making this more a review of me as opposed to a review of the book, I suppose. What stuck? The Curies - the way the book touched on the love between them, the amazing intelligence and determination of Marie and the devotion and encouragement of her husband Pierre in a time when women were generally regarded as not being capable of significant contributions to science or art or.... Berthe Morisot - how both her marriage certificate and her death certificate listed her as having "no occupation." The confirmation that artistic genius and insight do not necessarily originate in those inhabiting the moral high ground.Now on to the Bonobos.

  • Camille
    2018-11-09 21:05

    This book deals with an interesting topic and is well-written. I liked the photographs.However, I think there were a lot of problems. First of all, the author talks about many famous artists, but never really explained who they are in detail. It was not an issue for me as I already know a lot about this topic, but I feel it could be difficult for someone who is not familiar with this period of history. I found that Ms McAuliffe just started describing events without much of an introduction. It was as if the beginning of the book was missing.Secondly, I found the structure of the book difficult to follow. The historical period is dealt with year by year. This is very good if one is interested in a year in particular, like I was whilst using this book for research. However, it is very tedious to read from the beginning to the end. It feels very repetitive as the same people and events are mentioned again and again, chapter after chapter.

  • Mary
    2018-10-22 02:08

    McAuliffe's research and obvious love for Paris comes through loud and clear. She struggles a bit to tie the lives of her subjects together in tidy knots. Sometimes I felt like I was unravelling a skein of yarn which the cat undid in a frenzied moment.

  • Rosemary
    2018-11-05 01:50

    Full of interesting information about Paris and some of its famous citizens. If you are a Francophile and a history buff, you'll enjoy this book.

  • Helynne
    2018-10-25 19:58

    The heart and soul of this incredibly rich period of French history and culture always seems to be the Impressionist painters, and author Mary McAuliffe describes with many facts and anecdotes the faith, determination, setbacks, and heartbreaks of these daring, innovative artists on the long, hard road to respectability and acceptance into the Salon. But there was so very much more going on in France during the Belle Epoque (1871-1914) beginning with the end of the Franco-Prussian war and ending at the start of World War I. She begins with a description of how France struggled after Paris was under siege by the Prussians. Many starved, and even after the Prussians pulled out, the whole country was left in poverty as well as struggling in spirit. McAuliffe describes in excruciating detail the actions of the radical Paris Commune—a group that attempted to set up a left-wing government—and their bloody fate. After their defeat, the surviving radicals were not pleased to see the Cathedral of Sacré Cœur, which represented traditional monarchal and Catholics values-- taking shape at Montmartre, the heart and soul of where their movement began. Fortunately, France rallied from the trauma and the forthcoming artistic energy was dizzying in its quantity, quality, and scope. Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, Pissarro, Morisot, Dégas, Seurat and their successors—Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec and VanGogh—persisted in their new concept of painting. (McAuliffe seems to have a special spot in her heart for Berthe Morisot, sister-in-law to Edouard Manet, and the only native French woman painter to succeed in the Impressionist movement, while maintaining her femininity and tender motherhood toward daughter Julie). Also, Auguste Rodin and Camille Claudel brought new eloquence to sculpture, Debussy, Satie and Ravel composed innovative music, Zola began his long career as novelist and chief defender of the wronged Colonel Alfred Dreyfus, Sarah Bernhardt dazzled the stage with her bold interpretation of an array of theater roles, Marie Curie began her work that would lead to the discovery of radium, César Ritz began plans for the world’s classiest hotels, Frédéric Bartholdi began designing the Statue of Liberty as a gift to the United States, and a brilliant iron engineer named Gustave Eiffel was designing bridges, securing the framework for the Statue of Liberty, advising plans for the Panama Canal, and, of course, supervising work on his famous and controversial tower, which would become the focal point of the centennial world exposition of 1889. (Incidentally, all the jokes about the Eiffel Tower looking unfinished and much like a child’s erector set are true—in reverse. McAuliffe calls the tower “a sort of gigantic and perfect erector set—the classic children’s toy that in fact was eventually created based on Eiffel’s famed methods” [188]). The 1889 fair also had demonstrations of the telephone, phonograph, and hot air balloon, (and here Bernhardt distinguished herself not only as actress, sculptor, writer, and painter, but also as a balloon adventurer). At one point during this time, a chandelier fell at the Opéra Garnier, killing one person, injuring others, and inspiring Gaston Leroux’s novel Phantom of the Opéra. This was also the period of Art Nouveau, whose central artist was a Czech immigrant, Alphonse Mucha, who became famous for an advertisement of Sarah Bernhardt in Gismonda as well as numerous other posters that are still popular today. Beginning with Le Chat Noir, the modern cabaret was born, and another café, Le Lapin Agile, became a favorite hangout for the talented, avant-garde anti-establishment contingent. And it was during this time that the first tunnels for the Paris Metro were being dug, and the beret was coming into its own as quintessentially French headgear. Eugène Poubell, prefect of the Seine issued strict laws governing street cleaning and garbage collection (thus giving his name to the modern French word for garbage can [199]). McAuliffe includes descriptions of the political events of the day—with Georges Clemenceau as a central figure—and the eclectic political-social climate that, unfortunately, contributed to the rising tide of virulent anti-Semitism in France that would culminate at the end of the century in the Dreyfus affair, which split the country in two—Dreyfussards, who believed the French-Jewish colonel was unjustly accused of treason and imprisoned on Devil’s Island, and the anti-Dreyfussards, who persisted in upholding lies and cover-ups about his supposed guilt. Due in part to Zola’s courageous defense of Dreyfus, which was much at Zola’s own expense, Dreyfus was eventually exonerated and repatriated. He rejoined the French army and served during World War I. The horrific anti- Semitism increased in France, however, “invoking the language of genocide and extermination” (312). My only disappointment in this study is that McAuliffe did not mention much about the filmmaking industry that France gave to the world during this era, beginning with the Lumière brothers, then with the fantastically imaginative early films of the talented Georges Méliès. Nevertheless, this book is an incredibly rich study of the marvels of the period and filled not just with historical fact, but also with innumerable human interest anecdotes about the events and people who contributed to such a phenomenal period in French culture and how it came to affect the rest of the world.

  • Susan
    2018-11-10 22:10

    After I finished "Luncheon of the Boating Party" this came through my hands at the library and I saw a golden opportunity. This book covers the 20 years from the Commune to the turn of the century. With a year for each chapter, the stories of all the historical figures, mainly in Paris are told in parallel. It's easy to read and follow that way (though not a page turner) and it gave me context for a lot of facts and people I know about but couldn't connect before.

  • Bev Simpson
    2018-11-14 23:52

    As a Europhile, and being so fortunate to have visited so many of the places discussed, I enjoyed this read. Kudos to the author for the effort it took to put all these known (at least somewhat) characters together in a time frame and an historical context, and develop a fascinating storyline.

  • Sharen
    2018-10-22 01:10

    Fascinating people in a fascinating era. Mary McAuliffe's research is impeccable and this social history/biography moves through the timeline from 1870-1900 at a lively pace. Never a dull moment!Recommended.

  • M.K.
    2018-11-14 22:42

    Great resource material for a novel I've written set in 1870s Paris. Might even do another one set in the time period!

  • Nadia
    2018-11-07 01:54

    Being a long-time fangirl of Zola I've bought this book mostly because of his name in the title, haven’t read the annotation, and was sure that the book is about everyday Paris life and people’s habits during his time. Well, it isn’t. It is a description of life events of famous writers, artists, politicians and musicians during the Belle Epoque. And that’s pretty much it.I appreciated overall atmosphere of the book which gives you an opportunity to see great artists from museum as alive people, with their struggles, flaws and passions.But the switch from one person to another was unclear to me, and the ending was too sudden and unsatisfactory. Also, like I mentioned before, it is just description, the author tries to stay objective, I guess, and doesn’t let her fangirling over these people show too much, which makes the book a bit boring.Still, I enjoyed it a lot, especially parts about Zola (okay, I screamed like a nightjar every time Zola is mentioned), and for that experience I’m grateful.

  • Brad
    2018-11-16 01:04

    This book took me a while to get through. It is a very detailed account of the years between 1871 and 1900. The book mostly covers artists, writers, and sculptors which I found boring. I really enjoyed the bits about politics, the Paris Commune, the Franco-Prussian war, and the Dreyfus affair. By the end of the book, I skipped most of the material on artists, writers, and sculptors so I could read the Dreyfus affair story straight-through. That part of the book was gripping. I did appreciate getting some exposure to the history behind the Impressionists but the book had way more detail than I was in for.

  • Mackay
    2018-11-07 01:08

    A delightful, easily read overview of Paris from the close of the Franco-Prussian war through the fin-du-siècle. McAuliffe embraces and investigates the artists, writers, musicians, engineers, architects, scientists, and a few political figures (Georges Clemenceau, Louise Michel) of this fascinating era to show a world in change. How marvelous, to spend time in what was then Baron Haussman's new city, a place where art and letters mattered. I came away with a feeling that, as much as I admire Debussy's music, I'd not have liked him as a human being; that some other revolutionary artists (Degas, e.g,) weren't very nice; that titans like Paul Cezanne were surprisingly riddled with self-doubt; that those whom we now deem canonical, such as Renoir and Monet, struggled to overcome ingrained tastes and prejudices against their "new" art even as, in middle age, others like Whistler thought them old hat.This is more concerned with the belle, yet important social and political issues play darker notes throughout: the Paris Commune, l'affair Dreyfus, anti-Semitism, poverty and injustice, women artists of all degrees being dismissed as mere women... One of the themes that interested me most was the portrait of the old, bombastic lion of French letters, Emile Zola, shaking off his self-involvement and egotism to write J'accuse, defending justice and the Jews and Dreyfus while risking his own dear reputation and even liberty. A lovely book, whose only flaw is that one wished for even more telling illustrations than it already possesses (say, a Mucha poster for Sarah Bernhardt, or a reproduction of Pissaro's Olympia or... But that's a quibble.

  • Mary
    2018-10-17 19:03

    This book was both enjoyable and informative. I learned a lot about late-nineteenth-century Paris, including a deeper context for some of the buildings I saw when I visited in 2011. The book starts with a bit of background about the Prussian War and the Paris Commune (1871) to set the stage (and a bloody, rubble-filled stage it was, too). Each chapter then covers more or less a year up to around 1900. This is a great way to put the doings of artists and writers and such into the context of the politics of the times. As I read, I realized how challenging it must have been to weave all of the disparate stories of any given year into a coherent whole, so by the end my appreciation for the author's work was quite high. Most of the characters in this history are at least a bit familiar to me, but I occasionally lost track of who a less familiar character was from one chapter to the next. However, the book has a good index that solved that problem each time it occurred. Now I'm really looking forward to Twilight of the Belle Èpoque.There were many moments of "Oh, I didn't know that." I like that feeling of seeing a particular time period grow more clear and having my mental network of associations around it expand. My most profound realization was probably of how very courageous Zola was to write and publish "J'accuse" during the Dreyfus affair. The most pleasingly quirky discovery is probably the revelation that the word poubelle (trashcan) is an eponym. I have a vivid and mildly amusing memory of learning that word, so I was pleased to learn that it commemorates a prefect of the Seine named Eugène Poubelle, who instituted street cleaning and trash removal programs that made the city more beautiful and probably healthier.

  • Renate Flynn
    2018-10-23 00:56

    What a whirlwind overview of the years leading up to the Belle Epoque! From within these pages, I learned (finally) about the Dreyfus Affair (what a debacle and uprising!), gleaned marvelous mini-biographies of the Impressionists, Rodin, Gustave Eiffel, Louise Michel, Debussy, Ravel, Victor Hugo, Emile Zola, even a bit about Marie Curie, Toulouse-Lautrec, Oscar Wilde, and so many others. Like other reviews here, I am now inspired to explore in greater depth the lives of this period and this period itself! I particularly look forward to learning more about Berthe Morisot, Georges Clemenceau, Gustave Eiffel, Sarah Bernhardt, Paul Cezanne (who appears to have harbored many insecurities which I find intriguing) and to reading the works of Emile Zola who I now esteem as a hero, after learning more details of the Dreyfus Affair.This was a library find, but having now read it, I will purchase the book for my own library! Its extensive index and bibliography will be joys to study and I know I will delight in re-reading many passages.

  • Keili Rae
    2018-10-24 23:02

    I absolutely loved this book and can't wait to get started on The Twilight of the Belle Epoque and then When Paris Sizzled. McAuliffe was repetitive in all the right ways, constantly dropping little reminders of anecdotes she'd mentioned before, weaving together events and the relationships between the artists, politicians, musicians, scientists, social workers, engineers, etc. that created the whole esprit des temps of the late 19th century. This was such a fun read. McAuliffe's focus was certainly on the star players of the era, however. The poor, starving masses were referenced whenever the political climate started to heat up, but otherwise this is a book about the movers and shakers of the Belle Epoque. Am open to recommendations for books about the Gilded Age in the United States!

  • Kathy
    2018-11-09 02:05

    This book provides a very good overview of life in Paris from 1871 to 1900. It starts with the chaos of the Commune after the fall of Napoleon III and the loss of the French army to the Prussians. The author has woven strands of history that include artists, politicians, scientists and people who changed the commercial landscape. Its an ambitious undertaking that sometimes makes it easy to loose track of people's story threads. Despite this I think it gives a good sense of the passing decades and the changes in the city as the stories are told in chronological order interweaving throughout, in fact in some sections you can help but compare it to things going on today and how sometimes history does repeat....If you would like to learn more about the second half of the 19th century in Paris and would like a good overview of the city I highly reccomend this book.

  • Sue
    2018-10-22 19:52

    What a tumultuous and fascinating time to live in France and particularly in Paris! Creativity and change abounds in fine art with the rise of impressionism, in architecture with the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty, in writing with Zola, Flaubert, and Proust, in music with Debussy and Ravel and with politics overriding all of these. This book engaged me in history and politics like never before. Ms. McAuliffe weaves a rich tapestry picking up and blending all of the threads of culture in a clear cohesive manner. I never knew that Sacre Coeur in Paris was built on the site where the siege of the Paris Commune had taken place and acted as a reminder of their defeat. I'm looking forward to reading the next book, Twilight of the Belle Epoque.

  • Jordan Wallace
    2018-11-04 01:43

    Really wish I would have read the Goodreads user reviews of this book before delving into it. The subject matter of the book was fascinating. However, the writing style was awful. The author follows the lives of 10+ individuals during the span of a decade. Each chapter is a different year and each chapter is divided up into 1-3 page descriptions of what a particular person was doing in that particular year. Right when you start getting interested in that person's story, a new person's story begins. By the time you get to the next chapter, you've forgotten what story belongs with what person and the struggle to get interested again ensues.

  • PennsyLady (Bev)
    2018-11-07 20:57

    hardcover340 pg + addendum"The Belle Époque ("Beautiful Era") was a period in European social history that began during the late 19th century and lasted until World War I.Occurring during the era of the Third French Republic and the German Empire, it was a period characterized by optimism and new technological and medical discoveries.The Belle Époque was named in retrospect, when it began to be considered a "golden age" when compared to the horrors of World War I."4.5 very informative....highly recommended

  • Mary Rose
    2018-10-23 17:48

    Don't get me wrong, the scholarship for this book is really good and McAuliffe does a great job at writing in an easy-to-read, well-researched way, I just fucking loathe the impressionists and reading them whining that nobody understood their genius is exhausting. In the end I started skipping big chunks about Degas and Monet because I can't stand them. If you're interested in this period of history, especially the cultural side of things, this will be a great read for you, but it just wasn't for me. .