#20BooksOfSummer 2 – Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell

#20BooksOfSummer is an annual event hosted by Cathy Brown of 746 Books and runs from 3rd June until 3rd September With the aim to clearing a target of 5, 10 or 20 books from your TBR but with very relaxed and fun rules.

Here is my joining post & List!

Book cover for Rooftoppers
Cover based on a design by Antigone-Konstantinidou.com with sky by Shutterstock

Sophie was found floating in a cello case wrapped in Beethoven after a passenger boat sunk in the Channel, rescued by the eccentric but kindly Charles Maxim he sees it as serendipity has sent him this child whom he raises to be a kind, polite but curious and fiercely intelligent, independent thinking young girl with lack of concern for gender norms or expectations.

After Child Welfare cracks at the thought of Sophie wearing trousers and orders her into an orphanage Sophie and Charles flee to Paris to track down the owner of the cello case in the hope it will reveal the whereabouts of her mother.

With the help and friendship of the Rooftoppers Of Paris; Sophie undergoes a transformation to Bohemian roof-running, tightrope walking free spirit.

Foundlings & Orphans
Secret World of Parisian Rooftops

This is my first Katherine Rundell book and it’s going to show but that was a wonderful book! Sure it’s very much a book of style and emotion but you get fully swept up in that whimsy and wonder.

First of all I want my own Charles. He is the epitome of a positive male influence raising Sophie with a caring, loving and encouraging hand. He gives her the freedom to grow, to explore her interests and make mistakes but is there for when she needs trust, someone to believe in her, fight for her and a reassuring hand to hold. A fantastic parental figure and I love the way that he is involved in the final sections too instead of being an absent useless parent – be more Charles parents in and out of books!!!

The ambiguous time period, basically post Industrial Revolution and the beginning of steam travel but prior to the automobile it adds a warm nostalgic feel but isn’t tied down to specifics.

This muddiness doesn’t affect the enjoyment of the book but the style and immersion in this feel and atmosphere of the book makes me wonder if it takes precedence over the cut and thrust of characters’ motivations?

She is not too pale. She is cut from the stuff of the moon

I know I’m probably inviting people to ‘come at me’ for saying it as this was the overwhelming winner when I asked for help choosing the last two books….but particularly the last third of the book seemed a bit rushed in places and the idea of finding Sophie’s mum seems more urgent to just do with the emotional side depending on the reader’s feelings about mothers than diving into Sophie’s?

This isn’t a deal breaker by any means and may well be a word count issue and it certainly doesn’t distract from the enjoyment of the book whilst reading. It’s only on reflection after that there’s a little less satisfaction to the joy (like 4.75/5 not a meh!) maybe it’s just me but it seemed the journey within the book validated Sophie for the girl ‘out of time’ she is (and woman she will be) and her bohemian nature kinship with the Rooftoppers more than a vital pull to find her mother?

Or am I missing something? Please tell me I’m very open to being corrected!

Outside of this feeling, it was a wonderful experience, beautiful beautiful writing style and immersion in a not quite magical realism more of a wishful realism style. I would definitely recommend and read this and more Rundell even with my silly minor quibble.

Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell is published by Faber & Faber.


15 thoughts on “#20BooksOfSummer 2 – Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell

  1. So glad you mostly really enjoyed this- I have a very love/hate relationship with Katherine Rundell but I’m a huge fan of this one and the Wolf Wilder! Really excited to give her new one a try as well- 1920s New York heist novel sounds so me and I so desperately want to love it.
    Amy x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m a sucker for the 1920s too so it’s on the cards after this. It’s definitely an enjoyed book, but just that little twinge questioning whether it was satisfying to see her find her mum it is that my emotions posted in the gap?

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, I think I’m being forgiving because I finished the last page with wobbly emotions of joy and wonderfulness – but then I reflected when drafting an hour later that I didn’t have that long feel of satisfaction and started unpacking why. I think it’s a zeitgeist book for me in the sense of gives that immediate connection and feel and is a great experience but it sadly won’t become a favourite even as I adore Charles!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hmm, this makes me want to re-read it now! I know I loved it, but nodtky for its style and feel and for the Rooftoppers themselves and Charles (I agree so much with you about him, o love it when parents aren’t absent or idiots in MG) and I can’t remember how I felt about her mum.
    But reading this makes me wonder…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Is it bad to say I would have been happy if she had decided Charles was enough?? I felt the reader’s feelings about wanting her to find mum filled the gap more than the narrative did. But I still enjoyed it!

      Liked by 1 person

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