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The King in the Windowby Adam Gopnik
Synopses & Reviews
Adam Gopnik is one of America's most celebrated writers. His memoir, Paris to the Moon, was a New York Times Notable Book and sold nearly a half-million copies. His New Yorker articles reach an audience in the millions. Now he turns his talents to a fantasy novel for children and grownups that is part Madeline, part Matrix — an intelligent and charming adventure story set in the city Gopnik writes about so magnificently.
Oliver Parker is a ten-year-old American boy miserably stuck in Paris. Intimidated by his French school, Oliver longs to return home. Until one January night, wearing a paper crown and looking out the window, he sees an amazing vision — the reflection of a boy in an ancient French doublet gazing back at him. Oliver's pursuit of the boy leads him to a terrifying secret. He learns he has kingly powers and with no weapons other than his mind, must take on an extraordinary mission...
With wonderful characters, high comedy, and a thrilling narrative, The King in the Window is an intelligent fantasy adventure embodying the battle between good and evil.
"Gopnik's (Paris to the Moon, for adults) first offering for young readers is ambitious, complex and overly long. Oliver Parker, 11, an American boy in Paris, is vaguely unhappy. His father, a correspondent for a New York newspaper, is preoccupied; his French schoolmasters exacting, and his closest friend, Neige, sullen. His boredom ends instantly when, wearing the gold-paper crown he won on Epiphany for finding the prize inside a cake, he is mistaken for the monarch of the title, whose destiny is to free the 'wraiths' of Versailles. These spirits, French luminaries including Molire, Racine and the inventor of mayonnaise, have been trapped in the palace's windows for centuries by the evil 'Master of the Mirrors.' So while Oliver's father is consumed with reporting a story about a computer project soon to be unveiled at the Eiffel Tower, Oliver is engaged in a battle of epic proportions that climaxes at the same tower in the moments before the project's launch. The plot incorporates threads about quantum physics, Alice in Wonderland, skateboarding and 17th-century France's obsession with plate glass. There's wit (e.g., Oliver finds French history confusing since all the kings are named Louis and the only way to tell them apart is by 'the style of furniture they liked'), but a lot of it is aimed at adults, as are references to Yoko Ono's singing, wine expert Robert Parker, book royalties, etc. The resolution, though well-orchestrated, is dizzyingly complicated. Think of this as Harry Potter for the Mensa set. Ages 10-up." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Oliver Parker is a ten-year-old American boy miserably trapped in Paris, where his father is stationed as a journalist. Intimidated by his French school and its prickly teachers, oppressed by gray and wintry Paris, and feeling curiously remote from his father — who spends more and more time staring dully into his computer screen — Oliver longs to return to America. But if he has to stay in Paris, Oliver sure wouldn't mind if the elegant and very French little girl down the street, Neige, deigned to notice him.
During dinner with his parents one cold January evening, Oliver feels silly wearing the paper crown of an Epiphany-festival French king. That night, looking in the mirror, he sees a boy in an ancient French doublet gazing back at him. The boy, Francois, tells Oliver that he himself is kingly, and that he has a special mission — rescuing souls.
Only days later, on a trip to Versailles, Oliver is transported to the French spirit kingdom, ruled over by the fatuous King Louis the Nth. There, the famous playwright Moliere tells Oliver he must deliver France from the forces of the great Egg, who sucks up the spirits of men, women, and children when they look into a mirror of glass or of water.
Oliver reluctantly rises to the challenge. Fortunately, he has help — from the can-do American Charlie, who arrives for a visit; from Neige, a Parisian diva in training; and from Mrs. Pearson, a British author and personage who leads a foray straight through Lewis Carroll's looking-glass.
Ultimately, Oliver pursues Egg into the underworld — located directly underneath Paris — and realizes he must save not just the world, but all of its souls as well. In a marvelous denouement in which Oliver must transform the Eiffel Tower itself to fight the soulless wraiths, the boy proves himself a true king.
The King in the Window is a beautifully written, suspenseful adventure tale in the tradition of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien — an instant classic.
Oliver Parker is a ten-year-old American boy miserably trapped in Paris, where his father is stationed as a journalist. Intimidated by his French school and its prickly teachers, oppressed by gray and wintry Paris, and feeling curiously remote from his father--who spends more and more time staring dully into his computer screen--Oliver longs to return to America.
During dinner with his parents, Oliver feels silly wearing the paper crown of an Epiphany-festival French king. That night, looking in the mirror, he sees a boy in an ancient French doublet who says Oliver has a special mission--rescuing souls.
About the Author
Adam Gopnik has written for The New Yorker since 1986. His previous books include Paris to the Moon, a New York Times best seller, and Americans in Paris, a literary anthology. He lives in New York with his wife and their two children.
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