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Beautiful Revolutionary

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  391 ratings  ·  68 reviews
The thrilling new novel inspired by Jim Jones’s Peoples Temple from the author of The Love of a Bad Man.

Following her conscientious-objector husband Lenny to the rural Eden of Evergreen Valley, California, Evelyn wants to be happy with their new life. Yet as the world is rocked by warfare and political assassinations, by racial discrimination and social upheava
Published July 2018 by Scribe
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Average rating 3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  391 ratings  ·  68 reviews

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What a novel, wow! I have read a couple of non-fiction books about Jim Jones and The Peoples Temple and whilst I really enjoyed them (well, insomuch as one can enjoy learning about such a tragedy), I didn't feel like I really got to know the members at all. Instead, in Beautiful Revolutionary, Laura Elizabeth Woollett brings several of the cult's members to life, gives them hopes and dreams, pleasure and pain. They come alive in a way no non-fiction book I've read has done.

For mos
May 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ew
I’m surprised at how much I did not like Beautiful Revolutionary — especially given the other ratings and the topic. This is meant to be a fictionalized account of some of Jim Jones’ followers. I read The Road to Jonestown with interest and thought this novel might provide more insight into what led so many people to follow Jones to their death. But I feel like I got the opposite of insight. It starts off well, focused on young couple, Evelyn and Lenny, who become entangled with Jones and his cu ...more
Jaclyn Crupi
Apr 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
She has done it again! Beautiful Revolutionary has had me completely mesmerised – it has been ages since I’ve been so utterly engrossed and absorbed in a novel. The shifts in perspective are masterfully handled and offer a fascinating and nuanced portrait of Jim Jones’ Peoples Temple. I do love cult novels and this is one of the best of them. The tension build to the inevitable conclusion is incredibly well done. I have nothing but love for this book, five beautiful stars.
John Purcell
Nov 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I've read this year. An extraordinary achievement. Mind blowing. What a writer!

I have no interest in cults, Jim Jones or the Jonestown horror story. To be frank, if I had known what this novel was about I would not have bought it. Why did I buy it? I cannot say. I liked the throwback cover. I had heard whisperings that it was a work of genius. Dunno. Glad I listened to those whisperings.

I mean, Woollett dragged me places I did not want to go and made
Jun 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
A fictionalized account of Jim Jones and his followers. Jim Jones, a charismatic, master manipulator and con man. A self proclaimed socialist revolutionary and in his words, the only true heterosexual male in his People’s Temple. His followers are a mix of the desperate and lonely, the people with hungry hearts. And Jones is adept, per this account, of identifying each one’s Achilles heel and making full use of giving them what they need to believe. This is a real life horror story
Andrew Nette
Jun 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, crime
It is very tempting to view Laura Elizabeth Woollett’s debut novel, Beautiful Revolutionary, as an extension of her 2016 short story collection, The Love of a Bad Man. This is in no way meant as a criticism as I loved that book – twelve stories told from the point of view of the lovers and wives of various bad men in history, a lot. Indeed, if I remember correctly, one of the pieces in The Love of a Bad Man concerned the Reverend Jim Jones, a very bad man and the central focus of Beautiful Revol ...more
Scribe Publications
Woollett has wisely chosen to forgo the fetishism of death and Jim Jones that is so often the focus of this tragedy. With Beautiful Revolutionary, Woollett has created an utterly intoxicating portrait of the lives of those seeking to build something new in a world that seemed to be losing its mind. Although we know what awaits us, Woollett masterfully weaves a suspenseful and complex story about people — of their dreams, beliefs, ideals, and lives all coming to a horrific end — in a way that is ...more
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was gripping and disturbing till the last page. Woollett has created something really special. Her characters feel like real people and she has brought their backstories and motivations to life with skilful attention to detail.
I’ve been reflecting on what really grabbed me about the style of this writing and I’ve decided that I really like the way Woollett alludes to events and motivations without explicitly explaining them. This allows the reader to make their own judge
Robert Sheard
I have decidedly mixed feelings about this one. While parts of it were fascinating, much of it (especially in the second half) grew tedious. And the huge gaps in the cult's history were frustrating. In the end, I have more questions than I began with. I suppose that can be a good thing, but my overall feeling is one of dissatisfaction.
Cass Moriarty
Jul 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Laura Elizabeth Woollett’s novel Beautiful Revolutionary (Scribe 2018) is a work of fiction inspired by the real-life events of Jim Jones and his Peoples Temple. That story is well known, of the charismatic leader and his unorthodox church, which tragically ended when over 900 people committed mass suicide at the Peoples Temple headquarters in South America. The author has undertaken rigorous research, including speaking to former members of the church, survivors of the tragedy, and family membe ...more
Bri Lee
Full and fair disclosure: I know the author.

Woollett's writing makes this popular cult story into a whole new electricity storm - the clouds are weed smoke and the lightning charging through that haze is pure sexual energy. Incredibly well researched and jam-packed with detail but not overcooked. It's like the author has dove so deep into this world we can't help but be pulled into its heady depths with her. Figures like Jim Jones are so well-known amongst popular culture (and our sh
Nov 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
In Beautiful Revolutionary (published in time for the 40th anniversary of Jonestown) Woollett unleashes her forensic, compassionate intellect on those caught up in Jim Jones’ world.

I was only vaguely familiar with the Peoples Temple’s history prior to reading Woollett’s short story collection, The Love of a Bad Man, which imagines the lives of women attracted to/caught up with some of history’s worst male criminals and leaders. Jim Jones is one of them, and in her short story she exp
Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: auslit
This book absolutely floored me, y’all! I feel like I have found a new favorite author and can’t wait for this young Australian author to write more!

This novel jumps into the world of Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple cult, centering on the lives of those who found themselves in this orbit. Knowing a little of the history surrounding the cult itself, I knew I was in for a pretty confronting read mired in sexual violence and “revolutionary suicide.” The skill with which Woollett handle
Paige Farrell
Oct 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Sucked me in immediately and i’m now completely in the Jonestown voxtex.
Ellen McMahon
Absolutely stunning, mesmerizing fiction. I am fascinated by People's Temple and this era.
Often when books are so thoroughly researched, an author can be overly-influenced by facts and the writing comes across as disingenuous and laboured. This is not the case for Woollett's work, in which the story is immersive and the characters are crafted with depth and a perfectly understated intensity.
Apr 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned-read-books
I am so, so fascinated by cults, so I had high hopes for this book. It was good,but sometimes I got bored,and then something got me interested again,but then...bored again.. it’s a slow burn,and an interesting story,but still something was missing. 3.5 stars
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful Revolutionary is a pretty apt title because it encapsulates how superficial this book was. The author was also pretty gross when it came to writing about/from the perspective of characters of colour. This entire book felt so amateur, I can't believe the writer has a postgrad qualification in creative writing.
Sonia Nair
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was immersed in this book from the outset and couldn't put it down – it was the perfect holiday read. I love the way Woollett so meticulously captures the time in which this book was set, the mix of ennui and ideology that propelled so many people to the Peoples Temple. Woollett's characters are sharply characterised and meticulously observed; I found my heart breaking for peripheral characters like Lenny Lynden, whose collapsed mind became the perfect vessel for Jim Jones' fanaticism, while t ...more
Sep 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
I had to stop reading this book about three quarters of the way through. Probably one of a handful of books I never finished in 40 years. I just found the story depressing & hated the thought of picking it up to read more. I thought that odd given I’ve read other books containing all sorts of atrocities but was able to complete. Perhaps it was just how besotted & lead by the nose they were by Jones. Each to their own though. I don’t believe my review of the book pertains to the writers a ...more
Jessica | Booked J
Jul 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
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Review originally posted here at Booked J. As always, a copy of this book was provided by the publisher or author in exchange for my honest review. This does not effect my opinion in any way.

This was such a good read. From the time I read the synopsis, I longed to read Beautiful Revolutionary. Based on said synopsis, I gathered that it might serve up some serious The Girls by Emma Cline vibes and that is one of my favourite novels of all time. Plus, I can never say no to any literary release tha
Dec 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Just so GRIPPING wow what a read! I was so drawn into and can see how so many were taken under Jim Jones’ enigmatic and simultaneously repulsive spell ! Wow! I hate cult stories but I loved this!
Natasha Younger
I finished the book immersed in the world and both wanting know more as well as with a wish to scrub my mind free of all things Jim Jones and Peoples Temple.
Compelling reading. Heartbreaking and illuminating.
Amy Polyreader
Woollett is an incredibly eloquent writer, Beautiful Revolutionary is beautifully crafted and evocative. A fresh new perspective on the real people within 'The People's Temple' sans the common focus on mass suicide and Jim Jones himself. Longer review to come on Booktube!
Bronwen Gray
Jan 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Really well researched fiction based on Jonestown cult. I just didn’t really care about any of the characters 🤷🏼♀ and it was a bit of a slow burn. But it did give you insight into what it was like to be in the inner circle of that psychopath Jim Jones. ...more
Sam Still Reading
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of brilliant fiction
Recommended to Sam Still Reading by: looked fascinating
Beautiful Revolutionary has to be one of my most fascinating and mesmerising reads for 2018. It’s the kind of book that you don’t want to end and that gives you a serious book hangover. This story is meticulously researched and gets into your heart and mind and remains there for quite some time.

The story is about the Peoples Temple, a cult that started in California in the late 1960s. That is real, but the people who surround the leader Jim Jones are fictional. I purposefully hadn’t read too mu
Amy Smolcic
Laura Elizabeth Woollett is one of Australia’s best storytellers — her short story collection Love Of A Bad Man was utterly captivating, and I remember feeling completely drawn in as I read about the female perspective of some of the world’s most evil men. Her novel Beautiful Revolutionary is an extension of the work she did in her short story collection, this time focussing her novel on Jim Jones and the infamous rise of his cult Peoples Temple. Unlike her previous book, Beautiful Revolutionary ...more
May 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review | Beautiful Revolutionary is the fictionalized account of Jim Jones and Jonestown, told through the lives of many different followers yet primarily focused through the lens of his lover and right hand woman, Evelyn.
This book was so good! Though it’s a fictionalized account, the amount of research the author put into this book is very apparent as every character and their own motivations is perfectly fleshed o
In her novel Beautiful Revolutionary Laura Elizabeth Woollett reveals in unrelenting and compelling detail the rise and fall of Jim Jones and the fate of the 'beautiful revolutionaries'of his Peoples Temple.

The tone of the novel is exceptionally bleak and foreboding as befits a tale of the infiltration and corruption of the hearts and minds of Jones's gullible pilgrims and the eventual mass murder-suicide of over 900 of them in Jonestown Guyana in November 1978. It was astounding to read of how
Sophie Wallace
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I had heard a lot about this book before I spontaneously decided to pick it up at the book store the other day. From what I had read about it, with next to no existing knowledge of Jim Jones or the Peoples Temple, I expected to be intrigued. And I absolutely was.

At first, though, I did feel some sense of being marketed to. As a character - strong-willed, politically opinionated and cynical - Evelyn initially seemed a little too conveniently relatable, the epitome of my own social cir
Jo Vraca
Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great for lovers of cults

The Jonestown Massacre was one of the first major news stories I can remember as a child and it has stayed with me, giving me a real fascination of cults. Beautiful Revolutionary brought back so much of what I remember, but I can imagine that would have been difficult to understand for someone who doesn't know much about the People's Temple. While I enjoyed this version of events, I felt that some things could have been stretched out more while others removed altoget
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Laura Elizabeth Woollett is the author of The Love of a Bad Man (2016), a collection of stories about the wives and girlfriends of infamous bad men. It was shortlisted for the Victorian Premier's Award for Fiction and the Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction in 2017. Her latest novel, Beautiful Revolutionary (2018), follows a young couple who join Jim Jones' Peoples Temple in 1960s California. S ...more
“...there will be nights when they can't deal with all the space around them, the time passing, the schizophrenic burr of Father's voice in their brains. Nights in the years to come, when their stories are no longer theirs, and they can barely hear each other over the screaming headlines. Nights after everything's gone to shit and their dreams are decaying bodies in a distant place. Nights when their voices are the only thing to remind each other that the good things, love, beauty, family, still exist; that the night, endless as it seems, cannot undo their progress.” 3 likes
“Lenny's head pounds, in time with the truck's jolts, the women's mouths, the metallic hard-on. The shouts of hate, which he knows in his immortal dove soul are really love, love, love.” 1 likes
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