Jenny's Reviews > Revolution

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
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's review
Mar 21, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: young-adult, historical, wml-staff-pick, 2012-challenge
Read from March 19 to 21, 2012

** spoiler alert **

From the author of A Northern Light and The Tea Rose comes another sweeping work of historical fiction. Andi, a senior at a prestigious Brooklyn high school, is suffering in the aftermath of her brother’s death, her mother’s breakdown, and her father’s absence; music is the only thing that matters to her. When her father checks her mother into an institution and drags Andi to Paris with him over winter break, she is furious – but then she discovers the journal of Alexandrine, who lived during the French Revolution, and becomes caught up in her story. As it happens, their stories are connected by more than just Andi reading Alex's account of the Revolution: Andi's father has come to Paris for the purpose of performing a DNA test on a preserved heart that supposedly belonged to the young French prince Louis-Charles. Alex was employed by the queen to keep Louis-Charles entertained and cheerful, and she is desperate when he is locked in a tower and they are separated. Andi, reading Alex's account, desperately hopes that Alex managed to help the boy prince survive, despite the historical odds.

This entangling of past and present is common enough in historical novels, but Donnelly creates a wholly original, unpredictable work. She avoided every pitfall - every time I expected her to do one thing, she took the story someplace else. (Andi does eventually make a visit to Alex's time period toward the end of the book, but most of the story takes place in Andi's present and through Alex's journal entries. And, thank goodness, there's none of that "and then I woke up and it was all a dream" nonsense.)

In addition to the historical aspect, the book is also packed with information about music, both classical and modern, and naturally there's a love interest as well. Fans of Selden Edwards' The Little Book might like this, and vice-versa.

"Because God loves us, but the devil takes an interest." -Alexandrine (p. 248)

"History is a Rorschach test...What you see when you look at it tells you as much about yourself as it does about the past." -Ms. Hammond (300)

"For I have seen it and I have felt it and I know that it is love, not death, that undoes us." -Alexandrine (302)

"Have you learned nothing during your time with me? Do you still not know that great men are seldom good?" -Orleans (332)

"...and in that act, a prayer
For one more chance went up so earnest..." -Robert Browning, quoted by Virgil (360)


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Kelly I'm so glad to see that you felt so positively about this novel! I'm wild about 'A Northern Light' and this one has been on my to read list forever--now I'm even more eager to read it!

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