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Illumination Hardcover – January 3, 2013

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd (January 3, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007479085
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007479085
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.4 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,869,526 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Praise for ILLUMINATION: 'A fascinating novel that brings to life an extraordinary historical episode ... I can't wait to see where Matthew Plampin goes next' Andrew Taylor, author of THE AMERICAN BOY 'Fascinating ... Matthew Plampin lights up a murky episode of French history' Liza Picard, author of VICTORIAN LONDON Praise for Matthew Plampin's novels: 'A galloping good story' THE TIMES 'Lust, avarice, envy, revenge all play their part in this brilliantly told, well-paced story' DAILY MAIL 'Plampin's historical research is impressive, as is his command of detail ... his true gift of descriptive power' INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY

About the Author

Matthew Plampin was born in 1975 and lives in London. He completed a PhD at the Courtauld Institute of Art and now lectures on nineteenth-century art and architecture. He is the author of two previous novels, The Street Philosopher and The Devil's Acre.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Mcdonald on March 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Having read Matthew Plampin`s impressive debut novel, "The Street Philosopher" set in the Crimean war and post-war Manchester, I rather expected that this would be a novel I`d enjoy.

Plampin has a nice approach to his historical novels in that he manages to create believable characters and retain a feel for spoken dialogue of the period without either sounding too modern or stodgily Victorian; his main characters here are the Pardys; Hannah, a budding painter who's run away to Paris to escape her mother Elizabeth - a faded literary doyen - who in turn is lured to the city by a mysterious letter expressing concern for the well-being of her runaway daughter. Hannah's dissolute and somewhat naïve twin brother Clement makes up this dysfunctional family who meet up just in time to be trapped in the city as the Prussian siege gets underway.
Plampin plays rather loosely with historical facts, but the novel is fast-paced and exciting with elements of wry humour - the fish-out-of-water role played by Clement as he is seduced by the feisty and lascivious Laure, then is drawn into the serious business of military ballooning is almost played light-heartedly. Plampin, However, does not neglect the politics and intrigue surrounding the period; what could easily have been something of a romp is underpinned by a good realisation of the times and events, albeit seen from his character's points of view. His other characters, the French revolutionaries, soldiers, artists, et al are equally well-drawn creations.

I enjoyed this novel a great deal, it's very readable, intelligently realised and offers a fair historical backdrop to its storyline; a solid entertaining read that I`m pleased to recommend.
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Format: Hardcover
This story focuses on the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. It begins with the reaction of the citizens of Paris to the ongoing defeats of the French forces and the steady advance of the Prussian troops on Paris. The workers of Paris believe they can defeat the Prussians and use their victory to establish a commune and helping whip up emotions is the successful soldier, Jean-Jacques Allix.

Thrown into the melee is an English family, the Pardys. Hannah, an artist, fled to Paris some time before the war began and her mother, Elizabeth and her brother, Clement, received an anonymous note in London which indicates that she needs rescuing before the war reaches Paris. By the time they locate Hannah and find she has become Allix's lover, it is too late for them to leave before the siege begins.

This novel faithfully details the privations of the siege and its effect on the Pardys and the citizens of Paris as supplies run low and people are reduced to eating the animals from the zoo. The story marches towards its inevitable conclusion of defeat and betrayal with just a possible hint of love and romance.

This tale takes a bit of getting into. I found the start rather slow and a little dull. However, it is largely worth the perseverance as its an interesting story line and some of the details of the siege are well written. Certain characters are, perhaps, drawn a little larger than life but the detailing of the first aerostier (balloon) and its use in warfare is fascinating.
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