“Initially the writing took some getting used to, with shifts in tense and point of view. But what a wonderful, and ultimately very emotional, read. These historical figures came alive in all their intense, tragically flawed glory, using contemporary rendering of their own words. There are large...”see full review » see other reviews »
Didn’t Like It
“What a relief to have finished this book! Despite the ever-fascinating story and snatches of Mantel's customary skilled writing, I couldn't wait to turn the last page. Too too long.”see full review » see other reviews »
“Initially the writing took some getting used to, with shifts in tense and point of view. But what a wonderful, and ultimately very emotional, read. These historical figures came alive in all their intense, tragically flawed glory, using contemporary rendering of their own words. There are large slabs of historical context which I may have struggled with had I not just read Schama's citizens, but the personal and intimate drives the book along to its sober conclusion. ”Sootika wrote this review 3 weeks ago. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I felt it was time for a new book review. I find Christmas, though, is not ideal reading time for me and so I've picked one I read a while back and one of my favourites: A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel.
It's fair to say, this is an historical novel of epic proportions. Yes, it tackles the monstrous subject of the French Revolution in literary HD, but it is also very long. The first hundred pages of character exposition, although necessary rather than indulgent, have yourself looking at your watch wondering if you'll be able to read a hundredth of this novel before tea time ( *cough* 3pm sharp...I can't help it that my life revolves around food).
The novel is meticulously researched though and, with help from Mantel’s name guide, most characters are explained and easily followed. The more minor personalities, the Seamus Finnigans and Dean Thomases if you will, can though sometimes become a little lost in the bustle of the rest of the plot. Consequently, scenes that were particularly dramatic or well-known, such as Marat's murder in the bath (it really doesn't spoil that much), ended up being more caricatured than sentimental.
Saying that, Mantel’s female characters are strong. Witty, opinionated and far from submissive, Mantel’s women give Katniss a run for her money and protect us all from nine-hundred pages of the traditional phallocentric drivel present in so many other historical novels. This in partnership with great writing (I actually prefer the writing in this than Wolf Hall...) makes this vast brick of a novel and all Mantel's meticulous research accessible to the average, slightly apathetic reader - aka me. And she does it without writing all the characters into an orgy a la Philippa Greggory, not that orgies don't have their place in historical fiction...
Mantel throws you into the action of the revolution, she doesn't position the reader too far away. Importantly, though, she didn't try to impinge a particular viewpoint on me - I like that. All in all, I'm quite happy for this book to sit alongside earlier more famous interpretations by Dumas and Dickens, as a more modern, pool-side alternative. And you really do need to read this at the poolside.. it needs a chunk of undisturbed time. It's really not a commuter read ladies unless you want massive man shoulders from lugging it about for months on end...
This novel gets 9/10”
“I don't really know why, but I have a feeling this book will survive for generations. The atmosphere of the French Revolution hasn't been grasped so strongly since A Tale of Two Cities.”Maya Crowe wrote this review Friday, February 8, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I admire what the author attempted to do but think the sheer magnitude of her subject defeated her. Following three main characters through the course of the French Revolution, with a huge panoply of other figures, schools of thought and ideology left me confused, though it also gave me a good sense of the sheer chaos and whipsaw changes that pervaded. Since reading it, I've asked myself if Mantel would have been better served by choosing only one of her principals--Danton, Desmoulins or Robespierre--to describe the events that unfold in the novel. I'm not sure that I have an answer. I came away with a bit of a sense of the diverse threads that made up the tapestry, though the overall design was far from clear. I also wonder if her struggles in this novel led her to relate the events and limn the characters in "Wolf Hall" and "Bring up the Bodies" through the singular lens of Thomas Cromwell. ”Leslie E wrote this review Friday, January 11, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“What a relief to have finished this book! Despite the ever-fascinating story and snatches of Mantel's customary skilled writing, I couldn't wait to turn the last page. Too too long. ”Deborah J wrote this review Tuesday, October 30, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Really enjoyed this book but found the list of characters very confusing at times. It was not a light read by any means but it kept me entertained. ”Maria Joanne wrote this review Tuesday, May 22, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Based during the time of the French Revolution this book mainly focuses around three influential men: Danton, Robespierre and Desmoulins. I enjoy historical fiction but I felt that this book lacked something, it assumed knowledge that I didn't have and the characters sometimes became confusing. I didn't think it really explained some things fully such as Robespierre's rise to the top. Was glad to finish this book really.”Sherri L wrote this review Monday, April 2, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Excellent but not quite the command she developed with Wolf Hall. However, the two books are similar in approach, beautifully researched and written. They are both compelling psychological-historical dramas immersed in a real-life historical context.”Russell W wrote this review Tuesday, March 29, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No