Gustav Eiffel's Legacy: Background information when reading To Capture What We Cannot Keep

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Discuss |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

To Capture What We Cannot Keep

by Beatrice Colin

To Capture What We Cannot Keep by Beatrice Colin X
To Capture What We Cannot Keep by Beatrice Colin
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Nov 2016, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2017, 304 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Davida Chazan

Buy This Book

Beyond the Book:
Gustav Eiffel's Legacy

Print Review

Drawing of the Eiffel TowerWhile looking into the real personalities of the characters in Beatrice Colin's To Capture What We Cannot Keep, I came to realize just how enlightening this book actually is, simply because of the hints Colin gives us into a time in history about which most of us know only a tiny part. Yes, we all know the Eiffel Tower, but little about Eiffel himself, nor do we know the other masterful civil engineers and architects of the time. For example, French engineer Émile Nouguier and Swiss engineer Maurice Koechlin designed and patented the pylons for the Eiffel Tower, without which the structure wouldn't have succeeded. Prior to this, Koechlin collaborated with none other than Gustav Eiffel for the structural elements required to build the Statue of Liberty.

Phases of the Eiffel TowerOne would think that with the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty, that Eiffel was more interested in decorative monuments than useful structures. However, this is far from the truth. Colin notes Eiffel's involvement with Ferdinand de Lesseps' project building the Panama Canal. While Eiffel didn't complete that project, his contribution to it was the series of locks to raise and lower ships passing through the canal by a stunning 85 feet, to bring them safely to the level of their destination ocean. This differed from the Suez Canal, another Ferdinand de Lesseps project, which is an artificial waterway between two seas, with no locks.

Top of the Eiffel TowerEiffel's work can be seen in many structures across the globe, including buildings, bridges and viaducts. Only the continents of Australia/Oceania and Antarctica are left untouched by his legacy. I was most surprised to see two bridges listed in Vietnam, and a pier in Izmir, Turkey, thereby including Asia into the continents with his works. I was also surprised that the Statue of Liberty is the only project of his in North America (it was built in France and assembled in the USA). Finally, after thinking that it seemed like an egotistical move to name such an iconic tower after oneself, I was pleased to see that very few of Eiffel's projects carry his name. Perhaps that's why we know so little about Eiffel, and maybe it's about time we learn some more (although I'm sure French speakers know quite a bit more than I, at least). From what I can see, he was an innovator and risk-taker who deserves for his name to live forever on that lovely tower in Paris.

First drawing of the Eiffel Tower.
Construction phases of the Eiffel Tower, courtesy of Paris Eiffel Tower News
Top of the Eiffel Tower.

Article by Davida Chazan

This article was originally published in January 2017, and has been updated for the October 2017 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access, become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Sunburn
    Sunburn
    by Laura Lippman
    Crime writer Laura Lippman is both prolific and versatile. After spending years as a reporter for ...
  • Book Jacket: The Wife Between Us
    The Wife Between Us
    by Sarah Pekkanen, Greer Hendricks
    The Wife Between Us is an intriguing collaboration between first-time novelist Greer Hendricks and ...
  • Book Jacket: The Wife Between Us
    The Wife Between Us
    by Sarah Pekkanen, Greer Hendricks
    The Wife Between Us is an intriguing collaboration between first-time novelist Greer Hendricks and ...
  • Book Jacket: Only Child
    Only Child
    by Rhiannon Navin
    Rhiannon Navin's debut novel, Only Child received an overall score of 4.8 out of 5 from BookBrowse ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

A nuanced portrait of war, and of three women haunted by the past and the secrets they hold.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The French Girl
    by Lexie Elliott

    An exhilarating debut psychological suspense novel for fans of Fiona Barton and Ruth Ware.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Only Child
    by Rhiannon Navin

    A dazzling, tenderhearted debut about healing, family, and the exquisite wisdom of children.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Beartown

Now in Paperback!

From the author of a A Man Called Ove, a dazzling, profound novel about a small town with a big dream.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T I M A Slip B C A L

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.