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A Place of Greater Safety: A Novel Paperback – November 14, 2006
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This is a huge, complex novel, but the author has done her homework. Though Danton, Robespierre, and Desmoulins are at the center of her story, they are by no means the only major characters who populate the novel. Mantel uses historical figures as well as fictional ones to provide different points of view on the story. As she moves from one to the next, her narrative voice changes back and forth from first to third person as she sometimes grants us access to her characters' deepest thoughts and feelings, and other times keeps us guessing. A Place of Greater Safety is a happy marriage of literary and historical fiction, and a bona fide page-turner, as well. --Margaret Prior --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
There is a knowingness in this book about human nature which makes nearly everything else I've read lately taste of cardboard. Historicity aside---and it is very good history, if psychohistory of the Shakespearean stripe---the dialogue is so theatrically sharp, you wonder why no one has tried to film this. Short answer: it's probably [and thankfully] unfilmable.
There are gems [often drawn from sheer dint of research] any writer would be thrilled to have composed: the schoolboy Robespierre reciting a rote speech to Louis XV's closed carriage in the rain; the midnight meeting between Desmoulins and the Duc d'Orleans; Danton's slow circling of Lucile Desmoulins; the madness of the show trials, with the tumbrils already ordered, awaiting the walking dead.
Writers who look their art square in the eye know that they are called to write masterpieces: nothing else matters.
This, simply, is one. It will go down as one of the great fictional accomplishments of the 20th century.
And while you're at it, read Mantel's autobiography. It's terrifyingly real too: you'll understand where her eerily precise eye for human behaviour first saw practice.
After seven years of English and Journalism classes, I am not sure why Mantel's name did not come up once. There is nothing extraneous here, nothing fantastic to the point of unbelievability. The characters mature and change and determine and repel each other. No one is a saint nor, with one minor exception, do they deserve their sentences. In her Camille Desmoulins -for the majority of the novel, at least- there is a great literary archetype of exuberant, young egotism. At first, we blame him for nothing, then everything. At the last, he looks disturbingly like his reader.
Danton, by the same turn, starts out in much the vein of Stanislawa Przybyszewka's Georges-Jacques, the big lug. He gets away with things that you wonder if you'd forgive exuberant genius for, which- of course- you would. He is admirable as one true to his own interests if nothing else. Then, in one of the most skilled revelations in the literature I've read, his true, unwavering dedication to the principle behind the whole big mess he has helped create is fully uncovered, and too late. There are plenty of places to cry big, philosophical tears in this book.
There are plenty of places to laugh, too. Those familiar with Mantel's other works will recognize here her ongoing jabs at, well, pretty much everybody, but feminist representative Nicolas Condorcet here in particular for his jealousy of Robespierre over the female attention he felt should rightfully have been his.Read more ›
It follows the careers of three of the revolution's architects - Georges Danton, who wants to be rich and famous; Camille Desmoulins, who wants just once in his life to make his father proud of him; and sensitive Robespierre, Camille's school friend who believes there's something wrong with the system but isn't out for blood.
Camille is center stage at the storming of the Bastille - a stage he will never quite again regain. Danton becomes involved in the political aftermath, and they drag Robespierre kicking and screaming into the bloodbath that follows.
Eventually Danton is softened by the death of his long-suffering wife and Camille is horrified when friends start to go to the guillotine. Robespierre, however, has indeed become the fanatic they wanted to make him. They realize he must be stopped - but with Danton involved in government corruption and Camille seen weeping publicly for a condemned prisoner and emotionally torn between his two friends, it may be too late...
The storytelling here is masterful, sympathies wavering from one of the trio to another - an amazing feat considering that the "Citizens" have to be among history's great mass murderers. The book is long, but nothing really could have been left out - the Revolution was this epic in scope. Other historical figures weave in and out of the narrative - an initially stupid and vain but ultimately moving Marie Antoinette; briefly but memorably a harried Lafayette who realizes they are at the brink of something far more horrible than the Revolution's older sister in America but can't change the tide of history by himself; and many others - above all a frightening Marat.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Mantel is the very best at writing with historical accuracy and at the same time with a touch of fictional sensitivity. Read morePublished 12 days ago by SeattleReader
Mantel requires an intellectual reader and a history lover will love that she's covered the subject.Published 1 month ago by nj housewife
A different sort of book from Mantel's other historical docudramas. Sometimes the reader has to work hard to follow the characters and the timeline but a fascinating presentation... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Matthew John
I am certainly no book critic, so my selection of the adjectives in the multiple choice boxes above was difficult to make. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
I really do enjoy Hilary Mantel's writing, but this book needed a much tougher editor - a cast of thousands and a rambling plot doesn't turn it into a modern Tale of Two Cities.Published 3 months ago by jtg
brings many of the leading characters from the French Revolution to life; interesting blend of psychological conjecture based on filling in gaps from public records and primary... Read morePublished 3 months ago by eyetemper
The big book brings the French Revolution to life, The main characters of the Reign of Terror become human beings with strengths and weaknesses and this makes the book magnificent... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Raymond Comerford
I discovered this book about a decade ago, before Mantel came to international prominence with her Cromwell novels. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Peter J. Orvetti
Sorry to say self indulgence by author. Other books of hers I've read far better.Published 4 months ago by Elizabeth A. Wolin