Eça de Queiroz was brought up to hold all things French in high esteem: French food, French literature, French politics. He was, as were the people of his class in Portugal at the time, educated “French”. So, it was not surprising that he should choose to write a novel inspired by Paris, albeit late in his life. But although the first part of the novel is set in Paris, it is not about that city. Rather, it illustrates Eça’s social preoccupations, and his feelings about the need to rehabilitate his own country. The book also tells us much about who he really was, as well as being a highly entertaining read.
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