Elaine Sciolino was seduced by the Seine at age 28. Sent to Paris in 1978 as a foreign correspondent for Newsweek, she arrived with no friends or contacts. She was alone and ill-prepared, yet found two sources of sustenance: an elderly tutor and the river Seine.
The Seine flows through almost 500 miles of France, bubbling to the surface at Source-Seine and carrying the country's ancient history through Burgundy and cities such as Paris and Rouen (symbolized by Joan of Arc) before emptying into the English Channel and onto the beaches of Normandy. Its path is lined with such famous sights as Notre-Dame, the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. "The most romantic river in the world" has inspired artists of every medium to create countless popular works. The Seine also floods regularly, almost as if it cannot hold so much rich history within its banks and surges as a reminder of its power over France. In The Seine, Sciolino details the enthralling life and times of the river.
Sciolino, Paris bureau chief for the New York Times and one of the only American members of Femmes Forum, a private club of the leading women of France, writes about the Seine passionately yet with a reporter's eye. She brings the waterway to vivid life through surrounding sights and sounds (church bells and multilingual commentaries), yet facts are paramount. In ways big and small--the history of commerce, contamination and cleanups, lighting, origination of the daguerreotype, the officers of the River Brigade and the fascinating role of the "Unknown Woman"--she makes the stories of The Seine undeniably captivating. --Lauren O'Brien of Malcolm Avenue Review