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A Place of Greater Safety: A Novel by Hilary…

A Place of Greater Safety: A Novel (original 1992; edition 2006)

by Hilary Mantel

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976398,821 (4.08)403
Title:A Place of Greater Safety: A Novel
Authors:Hilary Mantel
Info:Picador (2006), Edition: First Edition, Paperback, 768 pages
Collections:Your library

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A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel (1992)

Recently added byprivate library, lottpoet, rzukiewicz, leselotte, eduzzi, shellcox, electrice, ellidaver, kauders
  1. 11
    Ninety-Three by Victor Hugo (bibliothequaire, rebeccanyc)
    rebeccanyc: Hugo and Mantel both create fiction: Hugo's is closer to the passions of the time and more philosphical, involving largely fictional character; Mantel's more distanced and historical. Hugo's novel deals with the counter-revolution in the Vendée, with a detour to Paris; Mantel's with the leaders of the revolution in Paris.… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
A sprawling, dense, vivid and colourful epic, charting the rise and fall of three key figures in the French Revolution, their early lives and connections, their intertwining or contrasting domestic affairs, their ideals and physical and intellectual prowess, their vanities and corruptions and charisma, driving one of the great epochal historical changes. Lively and fractious and ascerbic and witty and bitter, they chart a course through the overthrow of the old regime and the dawning savagery of the new. Intense, driving, bewildering, exhausting right until the devastating end. Brilliant. ( )
  Nigel_Quinlan | Oct 21, 2015 |
Big disappointment. It just seemed like a bunch of conversations strung together, that didn’t go anywhere, and I never got a sense of the individuality of the three main characters. I couldn't keep the characters straight - which first name goes with which last name and who has the stutter and who the scars - and I bailed on it, which I rarely do. I knew a fair amount about the French Revolution so it wasn’t that. It was just boring. ( )
  piemouth | Sep 2, 2015 |
In an author's note following the main text, Hilary Mantel says that her intent was to create "a book one can think and live inside." By this measure, she was wildly successful. Unlike most historical novels that place imaginary characters in a historical setting, A Place of Greater Safety is more like a novelization featuring real people and events at the heart of the French Revolution. Again, by rigorous adherence to the chronology of events, and by imaginatively fleshing out the dozens of historic participants based on their own writings and other documentary evidence, Mantel has successfully recreated the atmosphere, drama, heartbreak and viciousness of the people and events culminating in the Reign of Terror.

Superb characterizations and historical veracity aside, why is this not a slam-dunk five-star read? For one thing, it reads like a collection of notes, snatches of conversation, speeches, newspaper clippings, diary entries and bits of connective narrative that have been carefully put in order for the purpose of sitting down to write a book. First person, third person, present tense, past tense, scripted dialogue, conversational dialogue without clear attribution, difficult to follow plus occasional dropped quotation marks leading to further confusion — in other words, it reads like an early draft, not a finished work. The final chapter, which is also the longest at 50 pages, is possibly the most polished section of the book. The rest is an editorial mess — choppy and too long.

Despite these flaws, Mantel has managed to meet her own objectives and to convey the right tone and has delivered a compelling inside story of the Revolution.

At the core of Mantel's production are three characters who drove the events between the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, and the guillotining of two of them by the third on April 5, 1794. George-Jacques Danton, a lawyer and highly skilled administrator, Camille Desmoulins, the brilliant and reckless polemicist who was credited by some with inspiring the attack on the Bastille, and Maximilian Robespierre, the respected but enigmatic and cagey politician who rose to the top in time to sign the death warrants of Danton and Desmoulins, who had been in at the beginning of the Revolution, and were his friends!

How could such a thing have happened? As Pierre Vergniaud, a famous politician and orator said, "The Revolution, like Saturn, is devouring its own children." What began as massive civil disobedience in 1789 — resulting from two years of crop failure due to bad weather that was on the verge of causing widespread famine in France, on top of centuries of economic mismanagement of farmlands by the aristocratic owners, not to mention a clueless monarchy — devolved into an unstable Republic fraught with petty jealousies, suspicions regarding loyalty, and a level of paranoia that resulted in shocking internal purges.

The book ends with the beheading of Danton and Desmoulins, and even though it happened beyond the scope of this book, less than four months later Robespierre received a dose of his own medicine: He was guillotined without a trial.

Mantel's editors obviously did not see the deficiencies that I saw. If it seems petty to dislike a book for being too much like a rough draft, so be it. I think it could have been a much better book with a bit more effort. ( )
8 vote Poquette | Mar 18, 2015 |
An epic, detailed and lively tale of the French revolution - an assured and impressive debut novel, highly recommended to anyone who enjoyed the Cromwell novels. ( )
  bodachliath | Nov 11, 2014 |
10/26/2014 9:24 AM Atul Gawande, said Hilary Mantel is his favorite contemporary writer. I thought about Wolf Hall, but the French Revolution resonates more with me. Interestingly, no copies are available from OCPL.
  ntgntg | Oct 26, 2014 |
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Hilary Mantelprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Keeble, JonathanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Now that the dust has settled, we can begin to look at our situation.
Burning is not answering (Camille quoting Rousseau)
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Haiku summary
Robespierre, Danton
And Desmoulins: children of
The revolution.
Regicide, mayhem,
Chaos. The revolution
Devours her children.

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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:58 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

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.… (more)

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