In How To Climb The Eiffel Tower, the actual tower serves as a metaphor for aspiration and effort. When the two main characters meet, they talk about how Lara Blaine climbs the Eiffel Tower every Tuesday on the stair stepper at the gym. Jane Babcock-Roberts replies that it is more fun to climb the actual tower in Paris. This short conversation is the beginning of a rich, life affirming friendship. Throughout the novel, the two women return to that conversation as a touchstone of their relationship.
It was fun to research the Eiffel Tower for this book. Even though I had been there several times over the years, here are a few things I learned from research:
- The Eiffel Tower was built to be the main exhibit of the Paris Exposition of 1889. It was constructed to commemorate the centennial of the French Revolution and to demonstrate France’s industrial prowess to the world.
- There are 1,710 steps to the top of the tower, although tourists are only allowed to climb the first 704 steps from the ground to the second platform.
- There are 5 billion lights on the tower that can be used to light it up at night.
- Gustave Eiffel used latticed wrought iron to construct the tower to demonstrate that the metal could be as strong as stone while being lighter.