Jean-Christophe Rufin yokes the elegant language of the French enlightenment with the storytelling of Alexandre Dumas to create a splendid parable of liberty, religious fanaticism and the possibility of happiness. 'Set in 1700, towards the end of the reign of Louis XIV, it follows the fortunes of a brave apothecary, a talented but unofficial doctor, who is talked into leading an embassy from Cairo to Ethiopia ...Rufin maintains a perfect balance between impatient detachment and compassionate curiosity. The Abyssinian, like Thackeray's Vanity Fair, carries the weight of history with good-humoured finesse' The Times 'An ambitious first novel, dashing, abundant and, when necessary, vividly theatrical' Times Literary Supplement '[A] remarkably assured first novel ...Rufin's writing is elegantly readable' Independent 'It is old-fashioned enough to be delightful, and new enough to be moving' Glasgow Herald 'Rufin offers the reader at least three different novels in the space of a single book: a tale of diplomatic intrigue, a voyage of discovery to a virtually unknown civilisation, and a chronicle of the adventures and loves of his irrepressible hero' Daily Telegraph
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At the heart of Jean-Christophe Rufin's marvelous first novel is a nugget of truth: in the year 1699, Louis XIV of France sent an embassy to the King of Abyssinia (modern-day Ethiopia). From this small fact Rufin has spun a mesmerizing tale of adventure, romance, and political intrigue that is one part Alexandre Dumas and two parts Rafael Sabatini, with just a dash of Brian Moore thrown in for good measure.
The hero of this epic tale is Jean-Baptiste Poncet, a young French doctor who has been practicing medicine without a license in Cairo. Poncet first comes to the notice of the authorities when the French consul in Egypt receives a secret message from a Jesuit priest commanding him in Louis's name to send a diplomatic mission to the king of Abyssinia. Foreigners--especially Christians--have not been welcome in that country since the Jesuits were expelled 50 years before, and a regular delegation would almost certainly be killed. When the consul, Monsieur de Maillet, hears that the Abyssinian monarch requires a doctor, however, he devises a plan to send Poncet both to cure and to convince the king to send a return delegation to Versailles.
Poncet has his own reasons for agreeing to go on this perilous mission: he has fallen in love with de Maillet's beautiful daughter, Alix. Unfortunately, he knows that "within the Frankish colony in Cairo, he was nothing more--whatever pains he took to hide his ancestry--than the son of a servant girl and an unknown man." The only hope he has of gaining the consul's blessing is to win Louis XIV's favor; bringing an Abyssinian embassy to Versailles might just do the trick. Poncet starts out for self-serving reasons; upon meeting King Negus, however, he comes to admire him, and soon finds himself jeopardizing his own future in order to thwart the political intrigues of his countrymen.
Rufin tells this larger-than-life tale with wit, sophistication, and a wholehearted enjoyment that shines through every sentence of this beautifully translated novel. Jean-Baptiste Poncet, a young man who "had been offered every opportunity for sadness and despair, yet ... had decided long ago that he would never succumb to such feelings," is a hero with heart, intelligence, and charm, and the book's many secondary characters are equally well developed. All in all, The Abyssinian marks a delightful literary debut. --Alix WilberAbout the Author:
Jean-Christophe Rufin, a doctor who has traveled widely in Africa, lives in France.
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Descripción Picador, 2000. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Nº de ref. de la librería P110330393871