Reader reviews and comments on The Seine, plus links to write your own review.

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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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  • First Published:
    Oct 2019, 304 pages
    Oct 2020, 304 pages


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There are currently 28 reader reviews for The Seine
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Marcia C. (Jeffersonville, PA)

Cruising the Heart of France
In 1978 Elaine Sciolino, a young American news reporter, left her life in the States and moved to Paris to work for Newsweek. There she began a new life—and a new love affair—with Paris and with the Seine.
This book is Sciolino's tribute to a great river whose source is a spring in the Plateau of Langres in Burgundy, and which then, growing in size, turns northward toward its end, travelling 483 miles through Paris, Rouen, on to Le Havre and the English Channel, and finally to the sea. As she guides us to the towns and cities which lie on the banks of the Seine, her narrative is down-to-earth and entertaining. As she travels the river she shares with us little known facts and legends. She introduces us to French men and women whose houseboats find safe docking areas, and to those who follow an arduous and dangerous lifestyle piloting barges up and down the river. She invites us to experience the exuberance of Paris where life is lived so large it spills over the banks and on to restaurant barges, music barges and floating book stores. There are opportunities to dance, to see a movie, sample some wine, listen to lectures and more. The river is definitely an integral part of day-to-day Parisian life.
The Seine has unquestionably inspired Sciolino just as it has other writers, artists, musicians and poets through the centuries. She, in turn, has provided her readers with a scenic glimpse of the Seine and its many stories. Imagine a river boat cruise. Imagine a leisurely sail up river past Paris, Argenteuil, Rouen, Honfleur, and LeHavre. Imagine touring these towns and learning about their histories. This book can take you there. I enjoyed this book immensely. If you have visited France and experienced the Seine, this book will bring you back. If you haven't had the good fortune to get there, perhaps it will whet your appetite for a visit!
Sharalynne P. (Valparaiso, IN)

The Seine
Although it is time to review this book I have to honestly say I haven't finished it yet. The reason is, I am slowly travelling through it, enjoying it all, taking time to travel through France and through history with it, and learning so very much. It is a great book!
Shirin M. (Beverly Hills, CA)

The Seine: The River that made Paris
With a reporter's eye for detail, Sciolino takes the reader on an unforgettable tour through France by way of its main artery, the river Seine. She weaves a wonderful story interwoven with the towns and cities through which the river flows. From antiquity to the modern era, we learn about the history, geography, and people. The author intertwines the story of the river with the literature, art, music, and cinema that has made it so iconic. This book is part history, part human interest and part travelogue. A book that needs to be read from cover to cover and also serves as a travel guide when visiting France.
Carolyn S. (Kennesaw, GA)

The Seine
This most interesting book is much more than the history and origins of the river Seine. It is about how Paris, its people, and the river are all intertwined. There are so many interesting things about the river that one would never think of. Even if one has never seen it, the author brings the river to life.
Katherine P. (Post Mills, VT)

The Seine--( Sen NOT Sane )
Although it took me quite awhile, for me, to read it the snail's pace was not due to disinterest. Quite the contrary, I loved the book from the first chapter. Sciolino's interest in the River and its surroundings, its history, its people, its place in movies, music, art is so thorough that it is most rewarding to take it in by small mouthfuls, so as to prolong the enjoyment and also to digest the information. She starts at the very source of the river, a wide area of marshland fed my many underground springs until at last the water consolidates into one defined stream that begins its journey toward Paris. It is here that she spends most of her time--there is so much that connects the Seine ( sen NOT sane--it always drives me crazy to hear it mispronounced ) to Paris in reality and in people's minds. Yet, in time, like the river she moves on to Rouen, through the Normandy countryside and to Honfleur ( my favorite of all the towns I visited ) and even to Le Havre, literally the harbor. Here, though the Seine touches its western boundary, the focus of its inhabitants is not on the river but the sea.

I've not been back to the Seine in 30 years and from this book I can see that much has changed but even so, much is the same. I'm glad those locks were not on the bridges when I was there and happy that they are disappearing. If ever I return I hope that I can explore the part of the River before it reaches Paris from its source. And, naturally, to continue toward the sea through Rouen and Honfleur once more. Until then, I have Sciolino's book to keep me dreaming.

If you've been the return through her eyes is not perfect, being only vicarious, but enjoyable If you haven't been, she'll entice you to try to make the trip at least once.
Veronica E. (Chesterton, IN)

What an awesome book. THE SEINE is wonderfully written and so very interesting. Not only does it make you want to follow the Seine from beginning to end...the beautiful way the book is written makes you feel that you are literally following the river. The author also makes you feel like you are meeting the people that are introduced in this non-fiction book. The black and white photos are very descriptive. A great read with a glass of wine, cheese and bread.
Mary A. (Aiken, SC)

A love letter-to a river!
I knew I was in for a fascinating reading experience when the word "seduced" was used in the opening sentence of Elaine Sciolino's book The Seine. The "seducer" was the Seine itself.
Sciolino's has written an exhaustive volume, viewing the Seine from virtually every angle. The Seine's role in human history,in art,music,literature, movies and poetry reveal its remarkable influence on French culture.
The comprehensive nature of this book leads me to recommend reading the slowly, chapter by chapter so one can absorb Sciolino's insider knowledge.
Every serious traveler to France should read this book before leaving home. You, too, are likely to be seduced by the Seine as well!
Power Reviewer
Lee M. (Valley Park, MO)

More than a River
From Source-Seine in underground springs, seven to fifteen permanent sources, the Seine begins its journey to the sea. Most people think of the Seine and Paris as one, but as the author discovered and we learn the Seine is so much much more from the legend of the Gallo-Roman goddess Sequana to the English Channel between Le Havre and Honfleur. The Seine has been inspirations and the subject of painters for centuries.
Ms Sciolino's love of every inch of the river, 777 kilometers (483 miles) shows in every lovely description of the towns, bridges, songs, scenes, floods, lovers, fishing, islands, windmills, dreams, legends...
C'est Magnifique.

Beyond the Book:
  The Seine

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