War is imminent in central Europe, but the company of a special tomcat, a guardian ange. War is imminent in central Europe, but the company of a special tomcat, a guardian angel of sorts, helps him to overcome all dangers. In Bucharest, Joseph will meet and fall in love with an attractive nanny, while the prince distances himself from the dentist, seeking to erase all stains from his past, particularly his involvement with a beautiful blind prostitute. But unbeknownst to him, she has given birth to a baby boy with a suspiciously aristocratic nose. Nations are invented and dissolved overnight, kingdoms are for sale, Bucharest grows from a muddy pigsty into an elegant capital city, and love turns everything upside down in The Days of the King. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
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Search by: writer book. Excerpt from Critics about. Because war is imminent in Central Europe, the journey is an adventurous one, but the company of Siegfried the tomcat, who is a kind of guardian angel, helps the dentist to overcome all dangers. Joseph discovers a city whose rhythms, intrigues and customs are oriental, strikes up a close friendship with barber Otto Huer, and, thanks to money donated by the Prince, manages to open his own surgery.
His passion for scrubbers, schnapps, cards and endless conversations combine with the privileged relationship he has with the Prince, for a time. Moreover, knowing that the Prince shuns behind-the-scenes intrigues, he takes him to Linca, a blind prostitute, making sure that his identity will never be discovered.
The enamoured Siegfried the tomcat writes psalms in the feline tongue on the backrests of chairs, while Joseph in his turn falls in love with and marries Elena Dukovic, a nanny employed in the household of a pretender to the throne of Serbia, who has taken refuge north of the Danube. Prior to his own marriage to Elisabeth Pauline de Wied , the Prince brutally curtails his relationship with the Berlin dentist, seeking to erase all stains from his past.
Far from the royal palace, Herr Strauss, highly affected by the death of the little Princess Maria at not even the age of four , is amazed to discover that Petre, the son of the blind prostitute, bears a striking resemblance to the man on the throne.
The secret is oppressive, obsessive, and the dentist chooses to look after the child without the knowledge of his wife or friends. On a number of occasions, he tries to reach the Prince and communicate to him the secret, but he does not succeed. When at last they meet again, at the front, on the eve of a battle in the war against the Turks, he prefers to remain silent. The Serbian woman leaves the dentist, convinced that Petre is his illegitimate son and that Linca is his mistress.
Herr Strauss takes to drink, and tries and fails to commit suicide. On 10 May , when Prince Carol I is crowned King of Romania, Siegfried the tomcat, performing a further miracle, his last, manages to reconcile his masters and to elucidate the situation. In The Days of the King , love and friendship, in their countless guises, traverse the last half of the Romanian nineteenth century.
Chapter 5 Footwear for Dolls To them the summer seemed short and not at all sultry, even though the endless stifling heat melted men and withered hapless animals alive. The fury of the sun paled before the ardour of their hearts, without the dentist and the nanny being spared the torment around them : they perspired, they grew faint, their faces were flushed, but not for a moment did they think that the dog days were to blame, ascribing their frissons and fevers to the fire of love.
And, in those hours together, without ever having gone upstairs, they would find plenty to do, so much so that they would forget that the days were hot and sticky.
And it was caressed at leisure, lightly, with the tips of the fingers, with fingers entire, with the forehead, with the nose, with the chin. Sometimes, suspended in the fluid of time, while the tweezers, chisels, needles, spatulas, pipettes and forceps coyly kept watch, their mouths would seem inseparable, and their tongues writhed together, coiling and ravenous.
Thin and pale, with his chestnut hair and hazel eyes, with his opaque fortunate and sorrowful, Berlinese and Balkanic, joyful and agonising histories, Joseph Strauss buried his face in the breast of Elena Dukovic and wept. He was not pushed away, neither when he unfastened the sixteen buttons, nor when he let the cloth and the lace glide down naked shoulders, nor when he suddenly roared with laughter, as though in his soul there was not enough room for all the things that had accumulated therein.
His tears moistened her breasts, they mingled with droplets of perspiration and trickled towards her belly, they ran around her tummy button and flowed ever lower, and Elena clasped his neck in her arms and squeezed him tightly, as tightly as she could, until they lost count of the moments and one of her nipples, who knows which, came into his lips.
The young woman, who usually had a little boy and a little girl to look after coddling and scolding them alike in Serbian , slipped her hands under her dress, seeking to free herself of her suspender belts, of her white linen undergarments, of her slip, of her silk stockings, of all that was underneath. Herr Strauss, the dentist, even if he did not then regard himself as German or a doctor, clasped her hands and prevented her.
Without his head entering beneath the pleats of her dress, but rather from above, he kissed the small hollow between her thighs, firmly, where the hair must have been as black as her tresses, curlier and sparser. Then he lifted her from the blue-felt upholstered chair and, while Elena kept her eyes shut and her teeth clenched, he bore her in his arms, making a circuit of the room, rocking her and whispering to her a host of things, as though to a child with a fever and spasms.
Although they had never ascended to the first floor of his redbrick house, Joseph decided one morning, while draining a cup of tea, that it was, at last, time for his two loves to meet. And so he came down with the wicker basket, very early, before any bleary-eyed tradesmen could knock at the door of his surgery, their jaws swollen and teeth doused in alcohol.
Entering after lunch, Miss Dukovic, who was wearing a beige hat and had just folded her parasol, came across a sleeping tomcat, with one white ear, one black, lolling on the chair with a single leg. It was as though he too was waiting to be rid of painful gums.
In all their walks through blazing Bucharest, a city ruled by torrid heat and swarms of flies, they never ceased telling each other the stories of their lives. As the overseer of the houses of Theodore Nikolic of Rudna was inattentive to the comings and goings of the nanny, being more concerned with carafes of red wine, with keeping the woodpile full, with sleeping, with repairing the drainpipes and window shutters, with the haunches of the kitchen women, with the condition of the stallions in the stables, and with how the dice fell when he played backgammon or shot craps, for handsome sums , Elena often found reasons to go out of the gate, inventing and lying more than she had in the last ten years put together.
And, if she had not uttered so many cock-and-bull stories in the last ten years, then she had certainly not told as many in the other seven, the first years of her life.
Totting up her fabrications, one afternoon Herr Strauss deduced her age, for he had never ventured to ask her. At the age of thirty-two and a half , he felt old, but that thought quickly shattered, allowing him to imagine and to hope that the measureless time to come would laugh in the face of his past. Their meetings took place in secret, at none too customary hours, and so they had to find deserted, hidden-away areas of the city, so that they would not bump into any acquaintances of the baron or his servants.
At least at first, in July, Joseph would wrack his brains in search of spots where they might meet each other or winding lanes down which they might walk. And so it was that for three whole weeks Miss Dukovic adored the brioche and poppy-seed cakes of Peter Bykow, crossing the threshold of his shop almost daily, after lunch, when the torpid heat was at its height. There, where everything was white with flour dust, she would await the dentist, the healer of her heart, if not her gums, sitting on a clean, checked blanket, laid over a heap of sacks.
She did not permit herself to remain within for more than quarter of an hour, but in that brief segment of time, as tart as a slice of strudel, they would manage to grow dizzy. It was also then, around the middle of the month, that they profited from the feast of St Elijah, and took shelter in the courtyard of the Stavropoleos Church Inn, sitting on some peeled logs, where she stuffed his head with the virtues, travails and good deeds of the Prophet, also describing to him a few Serbian customs, above all those linked to plum brandy and beekeeping.
And so, thanks to his lather brush, razor and scissors, to his prattle during the moments when the cheeks of the warden were filling up with foam, and the bristles were vanishing between the thin, narrow blade, the two were able to climb to the top of the tallest structure in the city.
From high above, Bucharest revealed itself in a way they could never have seen or guessed. They themselves could barely quieten their panting and their clothes were damp, under the armpits, at the chest, and who knows where else. Joseph, who very well understood that he was not in mid-air, but for all that believed he was in flight, withdrew his hand from hers and sought something in the pocket of his waistcoat.
Thence he pulled out a gilded watch, with a chain, on the back of whose lid two names were engraved, Gertrude and Irma. And, in their good habit of telling the story of their lives, not in chronological order, but all in a jumble, as though they were snapping off pieces of their own biographies, he began to describe to Miss Dukovic something he had described to no other, namely how his mother and sister had perished, consumed in a fire.
Absorbed by the deceptive tea, which he himself, a young lad fascinated by the glass vials and miracles of the laboratory, had on a number of occasions prepared for them, his mother and sister had slowly grown distant from their fellow men, they had set out along the road of stars and beatitude, one evening of blustering wind they had forgotten about the kettle on the hob, leaving it to buckle and burst into flame, then perhaps applauding the flames, perhaps blowing on them, allowing them to overwhelm the curtains, carpets, furniture, thick-beamed walls, and perhaps even their bodies.
He felt a dreadful pain in his chest, it was suffocating him, but he managed to imbibe enough of the burning air of the afternoon, when Elena did not try to discover the recipe for the tea, but embraced him, tightly, more tightly than when he had wept between her dugs. Somewhere towards the horizon, vague, hazy outlines could be distinguished, and the dentist leaned his elbows on the balustrade under the shingle roof.
He examined them for a long time and gave a start, because he recognised the mountains. They slowly descended the rickety, winding steps. They stooped, careful not to scrape the ceiling with the crowns of their heads and not to bump against the doorjambs. Below, in the arched passageway of the tower, where not just ordinary folk but even circus stilt-walkers could have easily had headroom, they straightened their backs and smiled.
Joseph was thinking of that fat Vasile, always huffing and puffing up the minaret-like stair, and Elena Dukovic was not thinking of anything, she merely felt a need to smile. Soon, even if no one glimpsed them anywhere, neither in the rays of the sun nor in the shade, they remembered the insufferable face of the overseer, their sole enemy.
Before them was a long lane and the future, gentle and overrun with the flurry of drying sheets, as the dentist had been hoping, mysterious and resounding with the prattle of children, in the imagination of Miss Dukovic, but first they would have to traverse the weeks at the tail-end of summer and, before that, to bring to a close that day which rested under the sign of fire, at least because it was torrid, if not because of the story of the devastating fire.
And they did not hurry. They felt good, warm, they found no reason to rush. When she had gone some twenty paces, the doctor abandoned looking at the items of harness laid out on shelves and hanging from hooks, and strolled on. Thus they walked, overtaking each other as though by chance, until beyond the portion where the macadam disappeared and the lane was paved with wooden beams. Then they grew smaller and smaller and veered left, one after the other, vanishing from the gaze of a fat man with nine children, who, watching them from the pinnacle of the highest structure in the city, was chortling and hiccoughing.
A revelation! All rights reserved. Translated by Alistair Ian Blyth. Statistici web. Top Back Excerpt from Chapter 5 Footwear for Dolls To them the summer seemed short and not at all sultry, even though the endless stifling heat melted men and withered hapless animals alive.
The Days of the King
The Days of the King by Filip Florian. Our Assessment: B : quite appealing historical fiction. Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review 's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge and remind and warn you that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure. The complete review 's Review :. The Days of the King is, in a way, historical fiction: one of the central characters is Prince -- later King -- Carol, and the novel describes the years from when he came to power in Romania in to , when he was crowned king.