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A Far Better Rest Paperback – October 29, 2010

3.6 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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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.
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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: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,425,984 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this because I had read some of Ms Alleyn's other works set just after the Revolutionand enjoyed them - particularly the portrayal of Sanson. So I thought I would give it whirl. I love the story of a Tale of Two Cities and Sydney Carton is one of my favorite literary characters. Is this Dickens' Carton? No. It's a reimagining of the tale. But I think I like this one just as much and the historical detail is far more accurate here than it is in Tale of Two Cities. Some reviewers may dismiss this as fluff but for one who did her degree in this period of history - there's not an ounce of fluff. The research is solid accurate well used and comes alive with detail. I've seen the ruins of the Abbey in Caen and understand the historial significance in using it. Kudos for not making St Just a monster but rather a driven idealist turned resigned pragmatist. The book captures the growing threat as the Revolution slowly inexorably devours her own. And when Carton comes to his decision at the end I cried just as much as I did with the Dicken's version. If you're a purist and put Dicken's on pedestal - don't read it but if you want a solid tale of life during the Revolution with a flawed hero - read it.
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