This is a huge book, both in the number of pages (nearly 900) and its subject matter (The French Revolution). Mantel shows us history through the eyes of three individuals, Danton, Robespierre and the journalist Camilles Desmoulins. Their lives intertwine as the revolution gathers apace and we are privileged to hear from their wives, lovers, co-conspirators and families along the way. All of which gives a great depth and breadth to the story.
Mantel's research must have been immense and her eye for detail and character mean that what might be seen as dry history never suffers that fate. It leaps off the page in a kind of glorious technicolour. The characters, bloodthirsty and morally ambivalent though they are, are also portrayed as fascinatingly human and at times sympathetic.
Despite the length, the complexity of the story and the huge cast of characters Mantel achieves the nigh on impossible task of making this book as easy to read as a holiday blockbuster and just as compelling. A tour de force