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Product Details

  • Paperback: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Bella Rosa Books (October 29, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933523921
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933523927
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,626,185 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Portraying a Paris full of political intrigue, lofty goals and lost hope, Alleyn's first novel re-imagines Dickens's classic A Tale of Two Cities, charting the events of the French Revolution and filling in the missing years in Sydney Carton's life. The stage is set in Paris, where narrator Carton is studying with such illustrious historical characters as Maximilien Robespierre and Camille Desmoulins. Another classmate at Coll?ge Louis-Le Grand is Carton's mirror image, Charles Darnay. An unfortunate turn of events leads Carton to his native England, where he is severed from his inheritance by his emotionally distant father and begins leading a dissolute life of drinking and whoring, while halfheartedly pursuing a career in the law. He meets Lucie Manette, whose youth and beauty he idealizes, when, in 1780, he represents Darnay, now residing in England and accused of treason. Darnay is acquitted, and weds Lucie. Eight years later, Carton returns to Paris on the eve of the revolution, and meets Darnay's cousin El?onore. It is here that his life takes on meaning, and the novel acquires dramatic tension. From the fall of the Bastille to the Reign of Terror, the revolution's main players, both historical and fictional, are portrayed with skill and depth, making even such notorious figures as Robespierre comprehensible, if not sympathetic. Although the prose is encumbered with 18th-century vernacular, Alleyn's insightful storytelling and assiduous historical research create a richly textured, tragic tale that, in the tradition of the best historical novels, brings an era alive through the depiction of human drama. Agent, Don Congdon Associates. Author tour.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

If it has been a while since you read Charles Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities, now you have a chance to reread it from the viewpoint of Sydney Carton. Beginning with Carton's childhood, debut novelist Alleyn fleshes out his character and makes his dying for Charles Darnay even more understandable than in the original. Having Carton write his life story while awaiting his date with the guillotine, Alleyn proposes that after Carton declares his love for Lucie Manette, he goes to France, sobers up, and becomes involved in French politics. The author follows the French Revolution through its increasingly violent stages as Carton tries to use his position to rescue his friends. With each failure, he again turns to alcohol, becoming more and more dependent until the opportunity comes to save Darnay. This well-written historical romance is recommended for all readers, especially those who have read the Dickens classic.DAndrea Lee Shuey, Shuey Consulting, Dallas
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

The granddaughter of children's author Lillie V. Albrecht (author of _Deborah Remembers_, _The Spinning Wheel Secret_, and three other historicals), Susanne Alleyn definitely doesn't write for children, unless, like her, they have found guillotines, high drama, and the French Revolution fascinating since the age of ten or so.

Susanne was born in Munich, Germany. After studying acting and singing, and earning a B.F.A. in theater from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, Susanne eventually came to the conclusion that, as an actor, she was quite a good writer, and that looking for an agent or publisher was still easier on the nerves than going to auditions. (She can, nevertheless, still sing a high C when requested.) Having been unwholesomely fascinated by the French Revolution since, at age 9, she read the Classics Illustrated comic-book version of _A Tale of Two Cities_, she set out to write about it. Her debut novel, _A Far Better Rest_, a reimagining of _A Tale of Two Cities_ (what else?) from the point of view of Sydney Carton, was published in 2000. Her latest book is _A Tale of Two Cities: A Reader's Companion_, a heavily annotated edition of the classic.

Though a longtime fan, she had never considered writing mysteries, however, until she suddenly found herself creating a historical mystery plot suggested by an actual series of murders committed in Paris in the early 1800s. Police agent Aristide Ravel made his first appearance in _Game of Patience_ (2006) and returned in _A Treasury of Regrets_ (2007), both set in Paris in the Directoire period of 1796-97. Prequels _The Cavalier of the Apocalypse_ and _Palace of Justice_, the third and fourth mysteries in the series, followed in 2009 and 2010. Susanne intends to cover the entire Revolutionary period in future Aristide Ravel novels.

Her sixth historical novel, _The Executioner's Heir_, is the first of two (non-mystery) novels about real-life Charles Sanson, eighteenth-century executioner of Paris, who has a small featured role, at a much later period of his life, in the Ravel novel _Palace of Justice_. She is currently working on the sequel to _The Executioner's Heir_, but she promises to write more Ravel novels when Charles Sanson's story is at last out of her system.

In a foray into nonfiction, Susanne's book _Medieval Underpants and Other Blunders_ (2012), a writer's guide to avoiding errors and anachronisms in historical fiction, was written during a burst of exasperation over "historical" authors who under-research and give us medieval peasants eating potatoes (which are from South America) or Victorian heroines who think and talk like Valley Girls.

Susanne and her three cats live in New York State. She speaks French very badly. Visit her author website at http://www.susannealleyn.com and her (occasional) blog at http://www.susannealleyn.com/blog.htm .

Customer Reviews

The characters,both historical and fictional,are very real and alive.
c viator
Every other page I found myself wondering if Alleyn had ever even read Dickens for anything more than a vague timeline of the book's events.
Drifter
Even for those who are not necessarily into historic novels or romance A Far Better Rest offers excellent reading.
"theatredirector1955"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Vicki J. Kondelik on July 17, 2000
Format: Hardcover
A Far Better Rest is a wonderful retelling of A Tale of Two Cities from Sydney Carton's point of view. It tells the story of Carton's entire life, filling in the gaps in A Tale of Two Cities, where Carton disappears for several years. But not only does Susanne Alleyn do a great job at filling in Carton's "missing years", but she also writes an excellent novel of the French Revolution that stands completely on its own. Yes, it does help if you've read A Tale of Two Cities first, but it is not absolutely necessary. I have not read it for several years, and it's amazing how much I had forgotten. (For example, I had forgotten that Sydney Carton had gone to school in France.) Alleyn's description of the events of the Revolution is far more accurate than Dickens', as she explains in the afterword. Also, I love the way Alleyn introduces historical figures into her narrative; it was a clever touch, to have Carton and Darnay go to school with Robespierre and Desmoulins, for example. And Alleyn's original characters, especially Eleonore, are great additions to the story. I have read many historical novels about the French Revolution; this is one of the best.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By "theatredirector1955" on July 25, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Absolutely wonderful reading. Susanne Alleyn's style brings you accurately into the world of the French revolution even deeper than Dickens' Two Cities.. The story is fresh and alive.
Her story is one into which you can sink you teeth. Its beefy and deep. Even for those who are not necessarily into historic novels or romance A Far Better Rest offers excellent reading. Outstanding work by a first time novelists!
ONE WARNING: Be sure you are comfortable, with your favorite beverage and munchies near by. Once you pick it up and start reading you won't want to put it down!
Five stars or two thumbs up on thumbs-up on this one. You'll love it!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on August 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
One of the most chilling portrayals of the French Revolution is Dicken's extra-ordinary and unusual love story, A Tale of Two Cities. In a Far Better Rest, author and rare book dealer Susanne Alleyn retells Dicken's heartrending classic. In Alleyn's version, the story centers around late-protagonist Sydney Carton and sheds light on the shadows of his existence. Susanne Alleyn's first novel presents her as an accomplished writer with a knack for detail. She skillfully conjures not only the historical settings of 18th century London and Paris, but aptly overlays the culture, language and politics as well. However, although Alleyn's style captures the essence of the period and keeps most of the story's skeleton intact, Alleyn strives to contribute sub-plots of her own. Unfortunately, the newly-devised events, backstory and supporting characters seem to be unnecessary baubles and pockets on the cloaks of our beloved Dickens' creations. A Far Better Rest imagines anti-hero Sydney Carton as a player in politics and journalism. In comparison to my recollection of the original tale, these achievements go across the grain of the effective characterization of Carton. For was it not his reluctance to take life by its horns that portrayed him as such a pitiful character and led to the thrilling climax when he makes the ultimate sacrifice at the end? Dickens may very well have given as much thought to the background of his characters as does Alleyn, however, it may be supposed that he left these details out because they were not completely essential to the movement of plot in the story he wished to tell.Read more ›
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By The Sneaky One on July 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I loved the Dickens classic, the very best. This book only completes it for me, making it an ever richer tale. The author has done a first rate job. I recommend it highly for anyone who loves period detail and a respect for history that A FAR BETTER REST portrays. My hats off to two great writers, Dickens and Alleyn!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer C Philips on October 21, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This story is worthy of sitting next to "A Tale Of Two Cities" in your library. This author places you on the threshhold of the French Revolution with such savvy, you'll feel like you have been transported there. The characters are richly portrayed, and lead you through the events of this bloody era as if you were a compatriot. If you like historical works, I highly recommend this book!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By c viator on July 5, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Sydney Carton is one of Dickens most enigmatic characters.His novel leaves many questions about Carton unanswered.Susanne Alleyn has addressed many of these questions in her lively account where Carton tells the story of his life.The characters,both historical and fictional,are very real and alive.There are many surprises and twists.The descriptions of 18th century life are accurate and the 18th century language gives the story a very real feel of the times.If you like Tale of Two Cities, then A Far Better Rest is a must read!
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Kaleidocherry VINE VOICE on September 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book because occasionally I do the same thing Alleyn did - I continue stories begun by others. But I never submit them for publication, and I'd never trifle with one of the masters, as she did. For what it claims to be, this book is entertaining, but for someone who was really gripped by "A Tale of Two Cities," this is annoying fluff. I can't believe any of the romantic revelations about Carton that she spins, from the existence of an illegitimate child to Lucie's preferring him over Darnay. (There is more than that, but I don't want to give it all away.) She also makes Carton a central figure at the heart of the Revolution's beginnings, placing him just below Robespierre in influence and notoriety in Paris. I disbelieved this book so much that I almost stopped reading it - but had to see what other nonsense was part of the story. There are some interesting holes filled in - why does Carton resemble Charles so much? why was he in Paris anyway? and so on - but even these seem contrived.
It's a well-written book, grammatically (except her unconventional use of Msr. for Monsieur is a bit jarring, as is the constant use of the contraction "tho'" throughout - the only contraction I noticed in the book, it's liberally sprinkled throughout the pages). It is entertaining *IF* you do not consider "A Tale of Two Cities" to be a masterwork. I do consider it such, and therefore this book is merely a trifling ripoff of Dickens' vision. Not worth the price, especially since it wasn't available in paperback.
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