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A Place of Greater Safety: A Novel (original 1992; edition 2006)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312426399, Paperback)As 19th-century novelists Alexandre Dumas and Charles Dickens both discovered, the French Revolution makes for great drama. This lesson has not been lost on Hilary Mantel, whose A Place of Greater Safety brings a 20th-century sensibility to the stirring events of 1789. Mantel's approach is nothing if not ambitious: her three main characters, Georges-Jacques Danton, Maximilien Robespierre, and Camille Desmoulins, happen to have been major players in the early days of the revolution--men whose mix of ambition, idealism, and ego helped unleash the Terror and brought them eventually to their own tragic ends. As Mantel points out in her forward, none of these men was famous before the revolution; thus not a great deal is known about their early lives. What would constrain the biographer, however, is an open invitation to the fiction writer to let the imagination run wild; thus Mantel freely extrapolates from what is known of her protagonists' personalities and relationships with each other to construct their pasts.
This is a huge, complex novel, but the author has done her homework. Though Danton, Robespierre, and Desmoulins are at the center of her story, they are by no means the only major characters who populate the novel. Mantel uses historical figures as well as fictional ones to provide different points of view on the story. As she moves from one to the next, her narrative voice changes back and forth from first to third person as she sometimes grants us access to her characters' deepest thoughts and feelings, and other times keeps us guessing. A Place of Greater Safety is a happy marriage of literary and historical fiction, and a bona fide page-turner, as well. --Margaret Prior
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:01:50 -0400)
With A Place of Greater Safety Hilary Mantel makes her American debut in a dazzling and magisterial novel about one of the most crucial - and shattering - events in modern history, the French Revolution. Already acclaimed in ber native England, this hook should provoke an equally enthusiastic response from readers on this side of tbe Atlantic. At the center of this bold epic are three men who led the revolt against the tyrannies and injustices of the Ancien Regime: Georges-Jacques Danton, an ugly, ambitious, and charismatic spokesman; Maximilien Robespierre, slight, precise, wishing to do good for others; and their friend, Camille Desmoulins, an inveterate conspirator pamphleteer, and seducer (obsessed for years by a married woman, he eventually marries - he's not sure how - her daughter). Three young men of obscure origins from the provinces, all make their way to Paris, where, in 1787, they will be presented with - and will seize - the opportunity to transform their world. Surrounding these men are their friends, their families and lovers, as well as the famous figures and events that Mantel has so brilliantly depicted...Louis XVI and his decadent court, Mirabeau and Marat, the Marquis de Lafayette and the Marquis de Sade, Saint-Just and Choderlos de Laclos, the Committee of Public Safety, the Mountain, the Gironde, the Sans-culottes and Dr. Guillotin's machine. Having unleashed the forces of revolution in the name of liberty and happiness, Danton, Robespierre, and Desmoulins will become witnesses to, participants in, and, eventually, victims of an uncontrollable escalating spiral of rage and need, terror and violence. An audacious, informed, and encompassing portrayal of the genuine achievements and the harrowing tragedy of the French Revolution, Hilary Mantel's A Place of Greater Safety is fiction on a grand scale and in the grand tradition.
(summary from another edition)
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