Author(s): Hilary MantelDownload
Capturing the violence, tragedy, history, and drama of the French Revolution, this novel focuses on the families and loves of three men who led the Revolution–Danton, the charismatic leader and orator; Robespierre, the cold rationalist; and Desmoulins, the rabble-rouser.
Some Reviews: 1004 in Goodreads.com
My first successful fictional audio book. The narrator Jonathsn Keeble, is I thought, fantastic. I actually listened and read this, following along with the narration. The book itself, concentrated on three prominent figures of the French Revolution, was witty, informative, if not quite historically accurate, though certain events were. Centering on the lives of three let the reader enter their thoughts, actions and personal lives. Mantel has a way with words, wringing out of them, both the absurd and ironic that makes the reader take notice.
I remembered quite a bit of the French Revolution from my long past school days, but this book was a friendlier, entertaining look at the confusion and inner positioning that took place.
Well, thanks to the ministrations of Hilary Mantel, I now feel that I have the start of an understanding of the French Revolution and some of its key players. While A Place of Greater Safety is an acknowledged historical fiction, it is peopled with historical figures who lived the revolution, wrote its new laws and newspapers, created and were victims of its blood-lust.
Mantel uses multiple styles in her creation: writing in the third and first person; inserting occasional historic quotes; recreating those newspaper entries; entering conversations between various important persons; presenting imagined diary entries and private thoughts. I found myself reading this lengthy novel compulsively, wanting to know (yet knowing) what would happen next. And I enjoyed the variety of the presentation also as it seemed to add some lightness to what is, after all, a heavy story.
Late in the novel, Camille Desmoullins asks Robespierre:
“What did we have the Revolution for? I thought it
was so that we could speak out against oppression. I
thought it was to free us from tyranny. But this is
tyranny. Show me a worse one in the history of the
Robespierre would not look at him; but without doing
so, he reached out for his arm. “Everything you say is
true.” he whispered, “but I don’t know how to proceed.”
Yes this is historical fiction, but the history books tell us much the same: the Revolution had become the master over the people involved.
There are many quotable moments in such a long book but I will leave it for another to find a few and for another reader to find their own favorite. For me, the book has left me with a thirst for more knowledge about those times and many thanks that I did not live then.
Highly recommended for those willing to commit to a lengthy read.
Description: Hilary Mantel’s gripping account of the cataclysmic events of the French Revolution seen through the eyes of three of its most important figures, Georges Danton, Camille Desmoulins and Maximilien Robespierre.
Excellent dramatisation, Melissa Murray.
Thanks you R4.
Camille: Carl Prekopp
Danton: Mark Stobbart
Robespierre: Sam Troughton
Narrator Lizzy Watts
Narrator Paul Ritter
Lucile Chloe Pirrie
Gabrielle Sarah Thom
Mirabeau Sam Dale
Adele Alex Tregear
Annette Jessica Turner
Herault Stephen Critchlow
Brissot David Hounslow
Nobleman Chris Pavlo
Directed by Marc Beeby.
4* A Place of Greater Safety
4* Wolf Hall
4* Bring up the Bodies
WL The Mirror and the Light
1* Beyond Black
2* The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher
This novel is too long. It comes in at 872 pages in the paperback edition I read and some sections – like the description of the doomed but tedious Madame Roland – could have been cut without doing any damage to character, narrative or atmosphere.
So why five stars? Simply because A Place of Greater Safety is such a magnificently imagined account of the French Revolutionary Terror that to give it fewer would be churlish and an injustice. The author takes three principle characters – all of them elusive, ambivalent and hard for history to judge definitively – and gives them to us whole and utterly convincing at the centre of a series of the most tumultuous events in modern history.
Hilary Mantel Really nails Danton, Desmoulins and most incredibly Robespierre – a man you sense was probably an enigma even to himself.
You can’t fault the scholarly research that informs this novel, but Mantel is such a gifted storyteller that it is a compulsive page-turner too. Heavy as it was at nearly 900 pages, I could barely put it down until it was finished.
I will review more tomorrow. Just too much. Mantel is amazing. The book was too long. Not as good as her Cromwell cycle, but still, dear GOD can Mantel write and subvert history. I walked away from this book, I think, in love with three enfants terrible of the French Revolution. It really is true, I think, that to know someone is to love them.
In someways telling the history of the French revolution is perfect using these three men. It is like Mantel places the ID (Danton), EGO (Desmoulins), and Super-EGO (Robespierre, of course) of the French Revolution together and the story almost writes itself.
Anyway, I’ve got way more to write, but it is damn late. And, even knowing the end, the sharp end of history still bites.
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