Joseph Strauss (a dentist and bachelor, client of the Eleven T*****s brothel and of Der Große Bär beer cellar) leaves Prussia in the spring of 1866 and follows a captain of dragoons to Bucharest, where the officer is to ascend the throne as prince of the United Principalities of Romania. 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.
Blyth spins out Florian's second novel (after Little Fingers) in sinuous prose, and its elaborations, turns, and sheer sentence length render well the political and social machinations of 1866 Bucharest, whose multiethnic population convulses in forging a modern state and Prince Karl of Hohenzollern has recruited Berliner dentist Joseph Strauss to attend to him (and his decayed molar) on his ascent to the throne of Romania. Joseph begins life anew there, hiding much of his past from his wife, Elena, and keeping secrets about Prince Karl that only the dentist and his loyal cat, Siegfried, know. Though readers come to know this strange time and place, there are pages of summary that prevent a full involvement with some of Joseph and Prince Karl's most vital experiences or even their dialogue. Perhaps it's testament to the story's sharp humor and crisp voice even those amorous passages narrated by the cat that the reader lingers in each scene, sharing them with the characters moment-by-moment.