It is Holy Week, the seven days between Palm Sunday and Easter. The year is 1815.
Napoleon has landed from Elba and is marching toward Paris, "the Eagle flying from steeple to steeple," his army increasing every hour. Louis XVIII has assured his dear people of Paris that he will never abandon them. On the gray and rainy afternoon of Palm Sunday a monstrous coach sweeps out of the courtyard of the Tuileries and heads north. Surrounded by his troops of Musketeers, it carries the fleeing King. Behind follows a train of jostling coaches and carriages, wagons and berlins, wives and mistresses, newly returned nobles and Marshals remembering their days of glory. The Royal Household is following its master.
With the skill of Dickens in minutely exploring and intimately revealing the joys, griefs, sufferings and tragedies of the interwoven lives of his characters, with the grand sweep of Tolstoy and the grasp of an epoch and the multiplicity of dramas of Victor Hugo, but with his own conception and style, Aragon brilliantly paints the panorama of that flight north. Although most of the principal characters are historical personages, Aragon declares this is not an historical novel. With the inalienable rights of the imagination of a novelist he has recreated his people, their lives, careers, and emotions, and shown their epoch as the passing of a phase of French history.
A major and impressive novel from one of the great writers of our times.
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