Monday, March 14, 2011

Revolution, by Jennifer Donnelly

This novel is an unusual pairing of realistic, contemporary fiction and historical fiction that works on many levels. Music lover Andi is devastated when her brother is killed and blames herself, because she was supposed to be watching him. Unable to cope with her grief, she barely hangs on by playing her music and using antidepressants. When her mother is admitted to a psychiatric hospital, her estranged father takes Andi to Paris, where she reluctantly begins researching her senior thesis on a famous French composer.

In Paris, she stumbles across a diary belonging to a servant of Louis Charles, son of Louis XVI and Maria Antoinette. The story then alternates between revolutionary Paris, and the servant’s valiant efforts to save the Prince, and Andi’s struggle to fight her demons and suicidal urges. The reader becomes fully invested in these two poignant stories as the suspense builds and the intense emotions of the plot lines converge.

This compelling, character-driven story is well-paced, with meticulous historical research/details and complex, engaging characters. Highly recommended. 2011

A. Basso

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