Today it is with great pleasure to welcome my guest, Atreyee Gupta. We’ve been blogging buddies over the years. Here’s the link to her blog, Bespoke Traveler. Last year Atreyee contacted me to review her book, Cities of Kings. I was thrilled to receive the request since I love helping my fellow bloggers promote their books and this book is about London and Paris. I now live in London and each spring we hop over to Paris for a long weekend. Her book was a perfect fit for me.
Here’s the synopsis on Goodreads:
“Cities of Kings” relates the stories of how kings and queens helped build the various architecture of two giant European cities: London and Paris. The book takes a look at why these two cities look so different even though they have shared a common royal past, often being ruled by the same monarchs. Through stories about the construction and design of important sights such as Buckingham Palace, Tower of London, Louvre Palace, and Notre Dame de Paris, the book reveals the political desires and aesthetic passions of the royals who dreamt up these landmarks. The book also studies how the modern architecture of London and Paris finds a place amongst the cities’ historical palaces and castles. By telling stories about the most famous historic buildings of two important European cities, this book shows how the two cities can be discovered afresh by travelers from an architectural perspective.
I recommend this book to anyone who loves history, architecture and the cities. It’s well researched, entertaining, insightful, and a wonderful addition for history and travel lovers.
And now for the good stuff. After I read and reviewed her book I asked Atreyee to write a guest post for my blog. She was kind enough to accept. Without further ado, here’s Atreyee:
To be done or not done, that is the question every writer confronts. It’s a question I
struggle with every time I put pen to paper or stare at the letters on my keyboard. Have I
gotten all my points across to the audience? Are my characters truly at the end of their
development? Is there one last surprise left in the story? For me, writing is similar to
traveling. When I decide where to go, it’s based on what I want to discover and achieve.
Uncovering the story behind why and how royalty was inspired to build English
architectural masterpieces takes me to certain places. Places very different from when I
wanted to understand how Persian philosophy and Hindu craft had mingled to create
nineteenth century Indian artwork. In the same way, my stories and books begin with an
objective of what I want to explore, whether that is a historical turning point, a classic
moral dilemma, or solving a whodunit. In my travels, when I have seen what I came to
see and experienced a relationship with my destination, I can happily return home.
When I have solved my mystery, resolved the major quandary, and feel satisﬁed with my
writing, then I am content to send off my story.
The ﬁnal sentence in my tale always signals the destination I wish to reach, but long
before I visualize that phrase at the bottom of the last page, I do what any good traveler
does: plan. I plan for the things I want to see happen in the story, for how the characters
develop, and for the inevitable sudden turns my narrative might take. Detours, in writing
plot lines and characters, just as in travel routes, are a way of life. A character may run
into a dead end, the plot may produce snafus, and the adventure might become
entangled, but that doesn’t mean that my story can’t be ﬁnished. When things deviate, I
ponder whether the essence of my story remains feasible. Any story worth telling, just
like any destination worth visiting, doesn’t offer up easy formulas. I simply work harder
to discover those resolutions.
Knowing when my tale is concluded is different from termination of the story.
Philosophically speaking, a story is never ﬁnished. In my travels, there is always more
sights I could have seen, more history I could have researched, and more people I
could have interacted with. For me, part of the enchantment of traveling is that despite
my having uncovered and understood a place, it has more to be discovered, more ways
to be looked at. I like to think the same magic lies in good writing. The author shows
readers only a partial unveiling. Beyond the last page, the characters continue to live
their lives into the future, the worlds created on the page progress through literary time.
The important stories never end, they simply proceed behind closed doors.
Understanding this distinction, for me, has been a combination of experience in writing
and reading others’ stories. Instead of being unsatisﬁed that I haven’t learned everything
about a city or town, I enjoy mastering one facet of its personality. In my writing, I focus
on whether I have brought to light a single kernel and presented it correctly. That is
when my story is truly done.