Gypsi, June 6, 2010 (view all comments by Gypsi)
What to say about the City of Light? Simply saying it was one of the best books I've read just doesn't seem emphatic enough!
I had read favorable reviews of it, but it never sparked my interest. Turn of the century Buffalo, the PanAmerican Exposition, a headmistress and the Niagara Falls electric company just didn't sound like my kind of book. But then, a good friend recommended it--she has read it twice--and I thought I'd give it a try 'cause we have similar reading tastes.
I read the first page, and my opinion began to change. I eagerly turned to the next page, and the next, and. . . I became obsessed with Lousia, and the world around her, with the events that began with her or ended with her or just involved her. All weekend I read until I couldn't focus, needing to read, to know, to be a part of her world. Toward the end of the book I was torn between hurrying through to see how it would end, and dallying, to make it last.
I don't know how to describe this book, how to sort it neatly into a genre. There is mystery and history, inspiration and romance, fact and fiction--it's all there. But more importantly, there is life, in the plot, the characters, the conflicts and the conclusions.
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Christopher Hoak, January 4, 2010 (view all comments by Christopher Hoak)
Lauren Belfer delivers in electrifying fashion with this historical novel that tells the story of a bygone era when Buffalo & Niagara Falls were at the very center of Science, Industry, Politics, Civil Rights, the Arts and even the Environment! "City of Light" is a remarkable first book from an author who obviously put her heart and soul into this labor of love. Like Erik Larson, Thomas Keneally and Mike Dash, she weaves a complex tale of good, evil and everything in between, but this time with a woman's touch. Her multi-faceted characters are real and the excitement is at times palpable. I could hear the grinding turbines and gushing torrent of water as clearly as I felt the bite of Winter on an exhilarating sleigh race through Forest Lawn Cemetery. Moreover, I felt the anguish and guilt along with the titillation, excitement and exhilaration of humanity. All of this from a people, a time and a city that pulsated with life more than a century ago.
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"This is a beautifully written historical mystery. A century ago, Buffalo, New York, was one of the premier American cities. Against this fascinating backdrop, Belfer weaves the story of Louisa Barrett, a modern women beset by dark secrets and embroiled in mysteries that mirror the forces shaping the country as it moves into a new age."
by USA Today,
“Breathtaking...a remarkable blend of murder mystery, love story, political intrigue and tragedy of manners.”
by The New York Times Book Review,
“An ingenious first novel…alive with historical figures who mingle seamlessly with fictional characters.”
by Chicago Tribune,
“Wonderful…part murder mystery, part love story.”
“Suspenseful…A historical novel of high intrigue.”
“Get your hands on City of Light, a full-to-the-brim first novel…a straight-through, sleepless read.”
by The Oregonian,
“A big novel, full of electricity…Niagara Falls, with currents of romance, suspense and history, cascades through City of Light… a pleasure to read.”
by Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times,
"[An] impressive debut....a stereopticon of a novel, sepia-tinged at the edges yet bursting with color at its center....What matters...is the vivid sense of the time and place that Ms. Belfer has created."
by Cleveland Plain Dealer,
"[A] luminous and riveting first novel....In gorgeous, exacting prose, Belfer creates a compelling heroine....and in her skillful hands, we vividly see stately boulevards and mansions, parks landscaped by Frederick Law Olmsted, and feel the sense of promise in this almost-frontier city."
"This book is part mystery and part historical melodrama, fluently mixing fact and fiction, with the sort of Victorian plot devices that gaurantee a straight-through, sleepless read. The novel is no Ragtime, but it's close — an operatic potboiler, fat with romance, politics and scandal."
City of Light
The year is 1901. Buffalo, New York, is poised for glory. With its booming industry and newly electrified streets, Buffalo is a model for the century just beginning.
Louisa Barrett has made this dazzling city her home. Headmistress of Buffalos most prestigious school, Louisa is at ease in a world of men, protected by the titans of her city. But nothing prepares her for a startling discovery: evidence of a murder tied to the citys cathedral-like power plant at nearby Niagara Falls. This shocking crime--followed by another mysterious death--will ignite an explosive chain of events. For in this city of seething intrigue and dazzling progress, a battle rages among politicians, power brokers, and industrialists for control of Niagara. And one extraordinary woman in their midst must protect a dark secret that implicates them all…
Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and eBooks — here at Powells.com.