THESE DI­VID­ING WALLS

FRAN COOPER (HA­CHETTE, $34.99)

North & South - - Review -

This is a Paris few tourists see – a run­down apart­ment block in an un­fash­ion­able part of the city with dis­parate res­i­dents strug­gling through a heat­wave. First-time nov­el­ist Fran Cooper por­trays the apart­ment block as a mi­cro­cosm of the city: ris­ing po­lit­i­cal ten­sions, racism, re­li­gion and the threat of ter­ror­ism. Into this pow­der keg comes Ed­ward, a young English­man es­cap­ing his own tragedy who gets in­volved in the se­crets, lone­li­ness and loss of the in­hab­i­tants. Cooper sen­si­tively un­picks the af­ter­math of a ter­ror­ist at­tack at Notre Dame, in­clud­ing the vi­o­lent re­ac­tion of the Far Right and the drift into ex­trem­ism for those look­ing for some­one to blame. But the novel’s real strength is its char­ac­ters, or­di­nary peo­ple who are in­fu­ri­at­ing, heart­break­ing and ut­terly be­liev­able.

SHARON STEPHEN­SON

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