The Seine: Book summary and reviews of The Seine by Elaine Sciolino

The Seine

The River that Made Paris

by Elaine Sciolino

The Seine by Elaine Sciolino X
The Seine by Elaine Sciolino
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  • Publishes in USA 
    Oct 29, 2019
    304 pages
    Genre: Travel & Adventure

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Book Summary

A vibrant, enchanting tour of the Seine from longtime New York Times foreign correspondent and best-selling author Elaine Sciolino.

Elaine Sciolino came to Paris as a young foreign correspondent and was seduced by a river. In The Seine, she tells the story of that river from its source on a remote plateau of Burgundy to the wide estuary where its waters meet the sea, and the cities, tributaries, islands, ports, and bridges in between.

Sciolino explores the Seine through its rich history and lively characters: a bargewoman, a riverbank bookseller, a houseboat dweller, a famous cinematographer known for capturing the river's light. She discovers the story of Sequana―the Gallo-Roman healing goddess who gave the Seine its name―and follows the river through Paris, where it determined the city's destiny and now snakes through all aspects of daily life. She patrols with river police, rows with a restorer of antique boats, sips champagne at a vineyard along the river, and even dares to go for a swim. She finds the Seine in art, literature, music, and movies from Renoir and Les Misérables to Puccini and La La Land. Along the way, she reveals how the river that created Paris has touched her own life. A powerful afterword tells the dramatic story of how water from the depths of the Seine saved Notre-Dame from destruction during the devastating fire in April 2019.

A "storyteller at heart" (June Sawyers, Chicago Tribune) with a "sumptuous eye for detail" (Sinclair McKay, Daily Telegraph), Sciolino braids memoir, travelogue, and history through the Seine's winding route. The Seine offers a love letter to Paris and the most romantic river in the world, and invites readers to explore its magic for themselves.


About the Author
Elaine Sciolino is a contributing writer and former Paris bureau chief for the New York Times. She is the author of five books, including The Seine: The River that Made Paris and the New York Times bestseller The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue des Martyrs. Sciolino was decorated as a chevalier of the Legion of Honor, the highest honor of the French state, in 2010 for her "special contribution" to the friendship between France and the United States. She and her husband have lived in Paris since 2002.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"A soulful, transformative voyage along the body of water that defines the City of Light. Elaine Sciolino is the perfect guide to the world's most romantic river." - Lauren Collins, The New Yorker Paris staff writer and New York Times best-selling author of When in French: Love in a Second Language

"Anyone who, like me, loves and collects books about Paris will be grateful for this wonderful addition. It's erudite and energetic, like the river itself. Read Elaine Sciolino's own story as it emerges from her pages and her travels. I recommend The Seine as both a guidebook and a great bedside read." - Diane Johnson, New York Times best-selling author of Le Divorce and Flyover Lives

"This beautifully written and deeply personal book captures something profound, not just about the Seine and France, but about people's lives and how important rivers are to them…Elaine Sciolino writes with the authority of a historian, the sleuthing skills of a journalist, and the voice of a storyteller eager to recount the tales of those who have been touched by the Seine." - David A. Bell, Lapidus Professor of History at Princeton University

"Every day, through the windows of my restaurant, I have the sheer pleasure of gazing down at the Seine, awed by its beauty and vitality. In her lyrical and touching book, Elaine Sciolino brings this magical river to life for everyone to experience and enjoy. This is the finest book I've ever read about the Seine, the river that is the most beautiful avenue of Paris!" - Guy Savoy, chef and restaurateur

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Reader Reviews

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Barbara O. (Red Bank, NJ)

History, Geography and Travelogue of the Seine
An homage to Paris and the river that flows through its heart. Elaine Sciolino writes a wonderful book about the Seine and how it became so closely identified with the City of Romance. Readers will discover lots of well researched facts and interesting historical anecdotes that drew so many people to Paris and made the River Seine world renowned. The book will appeal to both armchair travelers and provoke memories for those people lucky enough to have lived or traveled to Paris. This is a lovely book and a must read for the Francophile.

Joy E. (Rockville, MD)

When a River is More than Water
From the source of the Seine (la Seine, always feminine) in Burgundy to its ultimate destination in the English Channel, Elaine Sciolino takes us on a glorious journey. We visit people living on house boats, barge operators, nearby vineyards, chateaus, and most of all, the fascinating spots along the river as it flows through Paris. Maps and wonderful photographs enhance the text. Each chapter has its own special charm. Imagine a whole chapter on bouquinistes or booksellers.

Reading and immersing myself in this history, travelogue, love story, was particularly timely for me as I am going to Paris soon. I plan to use her descriptions of the strolls along the river as my own secret guidebook. A true gourmet meal for those who love history and travel.

Chris (CA)

The Seine Adventure
This book exceeded my expectations. I want to go to the source of the Seine with this book in hand and follow the river all the way to Normandy, rereading her stories and conversations and history. I can't wait to see the Seine in person armed with all this information. Ms. Sciolino's writing style is very engaging. This certainly was not a dry retelling of centuries of history. Book clubs would find much to discuss, and everyone traveling to France would find much to enhance their travels. I can't wait to plan my trip.

Christine B. (Lilydale, MN)

A River For Everyone
What a marvelous history of a river and the people it touched through the centuries. I not only learned about a river and how it changed, but the effect it had on a lot of famous actors, painters, farmers, wars, industrialization, and ordinary Parisians. This a a very well researched book and beautifully written. I liked how she divided the chapters into the history and the uses of the river from its beginnings with the goddess Sequana to its future development and plans. I live on the banks of the great Mississippi and I look at it now with a yearning to travel its route and also learn its magnificent history.

Sandra L. (Delray Beach, FL)

The Seine
This book is filled with fascinating facts related to the River Seine. I found the chapters about the barge operators and the book sellers very entertaining - also life living aboard the various water craft. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Paris!

Carol C. (Troy, NY)

The Seine - The River That Made Paris
I loved this fascinating exploration of the Seine and its impact on Northern France in general, and, of course, Paris. Often using personal experiences, the author explores how the river defines Paris culturally, socially, historically, and geographically. Tracing the Seine from its source to its end, she writes about - among other things - shipping, houseboats, policing, fishing, rowing on the river, and the many bridges of Paris. If you've been to Paris, you'll enjoy "The Seine;" if you've not been that lucky, this will have you booking a plane ticket ASAP.

...6 more reader reviews

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A vibrant, enchanting tour of the Seine from longtime New York Times foreign correspondent and best-selling author Elaine Sciolino.

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