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I like Hilary Mantel and I had tried reading this in book form and not got very far. The reader was excellent with voices for all the characters and made sense of the beginning of the book where all the characters are introduced and it can get a bit confusing. You don't need to know anything about the French Revolution to be able to follow this book which focusses on 3 of the main protagonists. Like her later 'political' books, Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies (also highly recommended - the reader of Wolf Hall is particularly good) this mixes the political and the personal with great insight into the development of political extremism and its consequences. The portrayal of Robespierre is particularly astute. You can see how the author honed her writing skills to go from this to Wolf Hall - this has the same tautness and, despite its length, conciseness of expression and vividness of imagery. Highly recommended.
16 of 16 people found this review helpful
Hillary Mantell is surely the queen of historical fiction. This book is every bit as good as her two Cromwell novels and it is fascinating to see in this earlier book how she develops the techniques which make those books so gripping. Only she could invest characters who bored the pants off me in my history A level with such life. The Frech Revolution comes alive vividly in all it's passion and horror. It is a long book but is totally gripping from beginning to end. Can't wait for the next one!
15 of 15 people found this review helpful
I'm sure I will love this book when I can get hold of the cast of characters - it is in the print edition and the kindle edition and is vital to keeping track of the story with hundreds of minor characters. Unfortunately the Kindle sample has the list at the end (so it's not in the free sample and you would have to buy the book to get it). The only failing of the audiobook format.
For Hilary Mantel's other books (Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies) a friend sent me a photo of the first few pages of her hard copy and I referred to them frequently as I was listening.
Some solution to this problem from Audible would be much appreciated!!
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
If you've learned about the French Revolution at school, you've probably assembled a jumble of facts about the dramatic actions of the revolutionaries and the mob and the outcome of it all. Hilary Mantel dives beneath that to breathe life into the characters who populated the events.
In this well-researched book, she draws flesh and blood portraits of the leaders of the revolution and what led them to the events of that stormy time. You feel embedded in it, experiencing what drove them from crisis to crisis and directed their actions. You see their relationships, their trials and their temptations. Although the details have to be surmised, they are based on careful analysis of the writings of the real people involved, drawing out their motivations and beliefs.
This is an immensely powerful book, a tour de force, which drew me so into the times that I found it difficult sometimes to relate to my day-to-day 21st century life after a session of listening.
Jonathon Keeble's brilliant performance, complete with consistent and identifiable voices for the characters, enhanced it further, making it an experience I won't readily forget. I felt I lived the times. I look forward to further offerings from this author and this narrator.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful