Kristin's Reviews > City of Darkness, City of Light

City of Darkness, City of Light by Marge Piercy
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's review
Jul 05, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: historical-fiction
Read from June 11 to 30, 2012

City... tells the tumultuous tale of the French Revolution from the point of view of a number of key players in the events of the time.

The Good
Most tales of the French Revolution follow the key players: Robespierre, Danton, Desmoulins... but I liked that this book introduced me to two new individuals from the time: Claire Lacombe and Pauline Leon, and was therefore able to provide a more personalized and detailed account of the strong role women played in the revolution- more than just "hey, there were some ladies who walked all day to get to Versailles, and boy were they mad!" The life and experiences these women had was quite captivating and there was such potential for their stories to be something special... alas,

The Bad and The Ugly
The author relays the events of the Revolution by piecing together experiences from 6 select individuals: Robespierre, Danton, Manon Roland, Nicolas Condorcet and the aforementioned Claire and Pauline. With each chapter, the character and thus the POV changes to another character. Instead of bringing the reader closer to all sides of the story, this strategy makes for a very disjoint narrative and I felt myself never having a chance to become fully attached or involved with any of the characters. In some instances, the character selection for the moment seemed exceptionally contrived, and there was no connection at all between the events being told and the spotlight-person-du-jour.

While it only focused on the typical characters of the time, I enjoyed Hilary Mantel's A Place of Greater Safety much better, if only for the ability of the author to establish a deep connection between the reader and the characters.

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Reading Progress

06/24/2012 page 353

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