America,  Book Reviews,  Europe,  FICTION,  History

Parrot and Olivier in America *** (of 4)

At the end of the 18th Century, following the French Revolution, Olivier, a French aristocrat modeled on Alexis de Tocqueville arrives in America accompanied by an earthy British compatriot called Parrot.  The plot, such as it exists, is a tool to carry the young, arrogant Frenchman and the luckless Parrot from Philadelphia to New York and Connecticut.  Together they discover and describe the invention of American democracy, capitalism, restlessness, and Protestantism.  But they also reveal burgeoning conflicts over race, individual versus state’s rights, female emancipation, and the fine line between an honest dollar earned in a free market and the theft, insider trading, and crookedness available in a marketplace without regulation.  There is enough humor, tawdriness, compassion, and suspense to carry the book even in places where plot and raison d’être take a vacation.