Summary and book 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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    Oct 2019, 304 pages

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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.

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

There are so many interesting things about the Seine that one would never think of. Even if one has never seen it, Sciolino brings the river to life. A good book prompts questions and explorations, and I can easily imagine a book group discussion on the many topics discussed here...continued

Full Review (602 words).

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Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this entertaining and informative travel memoir, former New York Times Paris bureau chief Sciolino (The Only Street in Paris) explores France's celebrated river, the Seine...Sciolino's enthusiasm buoys readers in this fluid literary work.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Sciolino provides wonderful, detailed interviews of former barge people, houseboat dwellers, booksellers, and members of the River Brigade, which polices the river. The author also takes us into the world of the impressionists...Francophiles will adore this book, and others may become Francophiles as they read.

Library Journal (starred review)
For readers who have walked along the banks of the Seine or dream of someday doing so, this love letter to a river is highly recommended.

Author Blurb Lauren Collins, The New Yorker Paris staff writer and New York Times best-selling author of When in French: Love in a Second Language
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.

Author Blurb Diane Johnson, New York Times best-selling author of Le Divorce and Flyover Lives
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.

Author Blurb David A. Bell, Lapidus Professor of History at Princeton University
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.

Author Blurb Guy Savoy, chef and restaurateur
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!

Reader Reviews

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 ...   Read More

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. ...   Read More

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 ...   Read More

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...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

The Seine

Seine In her fifth book, The Seine: The River that Made Paris, New York Times foreign correspondent Elaine Sciolino explores the history of one of the world's most famous rivers and its impact on the capital of France.

The 777-kilometer-long (483 mi) river runs from its source near Dijon in northeastern France, through Paris, toward its estuary in the English Channel (known to the French as La Manche, "The Sleeve"). It can be divided into five distinct parts: the Petite Seine ("Small Seine"), from the source in Burgundy to Montereau-Fault-Yonne, the Haute Seine ("Upper Seine"); from Montereau-Fault-Yonne to Paris; the Traversée de Paris ("Paris waterway"); the Basse Seine ("Lower Seine"), from Paris to Rouen; and the ...

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