The Days of the King

Written by Alistair Ian Blyth (trans.) Filip Florian
Review by Elizabeth Caulfield Felt

In 1866 Prussia, dentist Joseph Strauss is invited by one of his patients, Karl Eitel Friedrich Zephyrinus Ludwig, to move to Bucharest, where Karl will be crowned Carol I. Strauss follows the young prince, sets up a dentist office, explores the city, meets locals, and helps the new king when called to do so, all the while keeping his relationship to the monarch secret. Strauss is accompanied to Bucharest by his cat, Siegfried, who also discovers the city while watching his human companion make friends and eventually fall in love. Siegfried provides the poetry of the story, writing flowery odes to his master with his claws on the backs of formerly well-upholstered chairs.

Filip Florian could be called the Romanian Faulkner for his fifty-plus word sentences and several-page paragraphs. However, Florian’s resemblance to Faulkner ends there. This Romanian author uses a silent-film style of storytelling. In The Days of the King, Florian presents the colorful details and bustling movements of 19th-century Bucharest with a light hint of story, a mere silhouette of character, and not a whisper of dialog.

The Days of the King is a light-hearted look at a little-watched corner of history from the viewpoint of a common man and his cat.