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A Place of Greater Safety
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October 2016: Historical Fiction > A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel - 4 Stars

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 Olivermagnus (lynda214) | 1952 comments Hilary Mantel books are always hit or miss for me. I really enjoyed Wolf Hall the second time I tried it and I loved Bring Up the Bodies. I am always interested in reading about the French Revolution and decided to give A Place of Greater Safety a try, despite it's length and the complexity of the subject. Hilary Mantel's huge novel about the French Revolution is principally the story of three men, Georges-Jacques Danton, Camille Desmoulins, and Maximilien Robespierre. I liked that her perspective brings some life into the strong female figures conventionally lost from view, at least those that frame the lives of the three male characters.

This book, about 750 pages long, is separated into fairly long chapters and each chapter is divided into smaller sections that examine what each character is doing, both personally and politically. The story opens before the French Revolution and finishes with what happens to the main characters, who play a central role in the revolution and are corrupted by their own brand of power and greed. I believe that none of them comes across as noble, but they were larger than life and I missed them after spending so much time with them.

I thought it was an enjoyable book, if you can call anything related to the French Revolution enjoyable. The setting was vividly described, especially the rioting and mobs. There are quite a few characters in addition to our three main protagonists, and it was handy to have a character list at the beginning of the book. Hilary Mantel puts a lot of time and effort into making her characters realistic and avoiding stereotypes. Readers of historical fiction already know what happens in this book but I was still invested because of the author's skill at making each one fascinating. It's not the book for everyone, but I really enjoyed it and will try something else from her in the future.

message 2: by Nicole (new)

Nicole | 428 comments Fantastic review Oliver! Although now my cup of tea, you do make it sound enthralling.

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