Book reviews The Coral Thief, by Rebecca Stott
Created on : February 05, 2013 Last Updated : February 06, 2013
Napoleon has been captured and the British are deciding where to place him in the world for his incarceration. Paris is in decline. Wellington is policing the city and dividing up Napoleons trophies: statues, paintings, collections of scientific and historical importance. It is also a time of great enlightenment and discovery in the natural world with French evolutionary theorists at the forefront;
Cuvier , Lamarck and Geoffroy, cutting a path on which Darwin would travel more easily in the future.
It is against this backdrop that Stott has chosen to set her novel The Coral Thief , one that presents the history and tensions of the time as well as the love affair between the two main characters around whom the action is set. The first of these, Daniel Connor, is a naturalist who is travelling to Paris to work for Cuvier. Young and eager to make a name for himself, he is excited at what Par michael kors outlet locations canada is will have to offer him. His companion on his coach journey is an attractive older woman called Lucienne and her young michael kors outlet locations canada daughter, Delphine. She is educated and is interested in Daniels prospective career in Paris as well as his precious cargo of objects of naturalist importance which he has been charged with bringing to Cuvier. When Daniel falls asleep, Lucienne disappears with his cases and specimens.
For Daniel, this is an michael kors outlet locations canada inauspicious start to his time in Paris. Losing his important samples puts him at a grave disadvantage and his ambitions for his future as a great naturalist are in jeopardy. However, it is not the last time that he sees Lucienne. Far from it. A chance encounter with her again causes Daniel and Lucienne to renew their acquaintance and the attraction that was so palpably felt in the carriage blossoms. However, Lucienne lives a life of danger and Daniel is drawn into this underworld, not solely by association with Lucienne but also by the interest shown in her by Jagot, the head of police and an ex-crook himself.
Stott creates a dangerous world of survival f michael kors outlet locations canada or the people on the fringes, people like L michael kors outlet locations canada ucienne with a shady past where they must become wily and astute: if you are not alert, you will be caught and if you are caught, you will die. Contrasting with this world is Daniel who michael kors outlet locations canada very quickly has to wise up to his situation and think carefully about to whom he should devote his loyalty. There is a real sense of the traditional race against time plot where as a reader you desperately hope that the hero and heroine remain safe and unharmed. This makes it quite a tense read at times.
Stott draws the action to a satisfying conclusion where right prevails, righ michael kors outlet locations canada t in this book being the people who are the least corrupt, forced into the lives they lead by circumstance rather than seeking to gain from opportunity. There is a wealth of history in this novel, compounded by the juxtaposition of Napoleons journey to his