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A Place of Greater Safety [Paperback]

Hilary Mantel
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (151 customer reviews)
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Book Description

4 Mar 2010

From the double Man Booker prize-winner comes an extraordinary work of historical imagination – this is Hilary Mantel’s epic novel of the French Revolution.

Georges-Jacques Danton: zealous, energetic and debt-ridden. Maximilien Robespierre: small, diligent and terrified of violence. And Camille Desmoulins: a genius of rhetoric, charming and handsome, yet also erratic and untrustworthy. As these young men, key figures of the French Revolution, taste the addictive delights of power, the darker side of the period’s political ideals is unleashed – and all must face the horror that follows.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 880 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate; Re-issue edition (4 Mar 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 000725055X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007250554
  • Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 20.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (151 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,714 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Hilary Mantel is the author of thirteen books , including A Place of Greater Safety, Beyond Black, and the memoir Giving up the Ghost. Her two most recent novels, Wolf Hall and its sequel Bring up the Bodies have both been awarded The Man Booker Prize - an unprecedented achievement.

Product Description


‘Superbly readable…an assured and strange masterpiece.’ Sunday Telegraph

'One of the best English novels of the 20th century.' Diana Athill, The Oldie

‘Hilary Mantel has soaked herself in the history of the period…and a striking picture emerges of the exhilaration, dynamic energy and stark horror of those fearful days.’ Daily Telegraph

‘I cannot think of a historical novel as good as this until one goes back to Marguerite Yourcenar’s “Memoirs of Hadrian”, published forty years ago.’ Evening Standard

‘Marvellous…It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. Hilary Mantel captures it all.’ Time Out

‘Intriguing…She has grasped what made these young revolutionaries – and with them the French Revolution – tick.’ Independent

‘Crafty tensions, twists and high drama…a bravura display of her endlessly inventive, eerily observant style.’ Times Literary Supplement

‘An extraordinary and overwhelming novel…immensely detailed and yet fast-moving…she has set herself to capture the excitement and intellectual fervour of the period. She does it admirably…a tour de force.’ Scotsman

'Riveting…the book overflows with a natural storyteller's energy.' New Yorker

‘Much, much more than a historical novel, this is an addictive study of power, and the price that must be paid for it…a triumph.’ Cosmopolitan

'This is a high-class historical blockbuster.' Red Magazine

‘Hilary Mantel has pulled off the apparently impossible…an ambitious, gripping epic.’ Vogue

About the Author

Hilary Mantel is the author of thirteen books , including A PLACE OF GREATER SAFETY, BEYOND BLACK, and the memoir GIVING UP THE GHOST. Her two most recent novels, WOLF HALL and its sequel BRING UP THE BODIES, have both been awarded The Man Booker Prize – an unprecedented achievement.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
50 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous 27 Aug 2009
It took me a while to get into this book. I was desperate to get to the revolution and the first couple of hundred pages, although beautifully written concentrated on the main characters early lives. The "Revolution" crept up very subtley until you found yourself suddenly engulfed in the tumult and paranoia of the historical process. It is a truly compelling read, the characters are so well drawn you even manage to feel sympathy for Robespierre, whilst for Danton and Camille nothing less than hopeless dread. A host of other characters add to the marvellous complexity but never clutter the story's path. I studied the French Revolution at A Level and found it difficult to pin down or understand, but this book opened my eyes and made it feel contemporary and real. Fabulous.
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213 of 218 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This is a huge and dynamic novel about three makers of the French Revolution. The two more famous men, Danton and Robespierre, are linked by their mutual friend Camille Desmoulins, whose role in history was to make the speech that inflamed the mob to storm the Bastille. The novel shows us a very complex and chaotic revolution, accelerated by many types of people and careering out of anyone's control. It is far from a simple case of the peasants rising up to guillotine the aristocrats.
The three main characters are diverse: Danton the bluff orator, the patriot who expects to make a good living out of the revolution; Robespierre the incorruptible, ruled by logic, who believes that the revolution is an essential reform more important than mere individuals, and the magnetic hell-raiser Camille - brilliant, immature, seductive, amoral, driven. Their wives, lovers, friends and enemies swarm through the book creating a riot of events and ideas.
This is wonderful writing with sparkles of genius: Camille's wife imagines the 'semi-demi-half life' of existence without him; a major character dies leaving a book marked with her place, 'And this is it' - it is twinned with her place as a character in this book, the place she got up to.
Hilary Mantel teases fiction out of history, leaving the imaginary indistinguishable from the facts. Both are compelling and thrilling, from the young Camille's subtle humiliation of his host at a dinner party, as a means of seducing his hostess, to Danton's theft of the French crown jewels for diamonds to bribe the enemy to lose a battle.
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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing epic 14 Jun 2009
By Mrs. K. A. Wheatley TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars See it through - it's worth it! 31 Jan 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If I had not been reading this book for a book club I would definitely not have read beyond the first 100 pages (of 872). As it was, the first half of the book was just about one of the most painful reading experiences of my life, not least because until that point there was more to read than had been read! There were so many people, places, shifts of tense and POV that I didn't know where I was. The lists of characters she gives for each section at the beginning says it all, but referring back became a further annoyance. To be honest, I stopped caring - but then there was the book club commitment. I kept going....

However, somewhere past the midpoint it started to get really interesting - characters and events started unfolding and falling into place, and became more than the sum total of their parts. Although I still didn't feel it was great writing, the research was detailed and the fiction so well observed it became compelling. The plot and main characters are well documented both historically and in other reviews so I won't go on about them. But I did want to say if anyone out there is having a problem with it - I've been there - and it's well worth seeing it through; Hilary Mantel shows such great insights into the complexities of human nature and events, making fact and fiction work skilfully together, without allowing the fiction to undermine the documented facts.

After I'd finished the book it was a relief to read that Hilary Mantel herself had echoed my sentiments; it was the first book she wrote and was rejected by publishers, and sat on a shelf for a few years. After success with later novels, she was asked to reveal whether she had a first unpublished novel lurking around, she said she nearly lied and said no - the rest is history.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Another sparkling historical story from Hilary Mantel.
Extremely well written. Mantel makes the history of the French Revolution come to life with the personal stories of some of the main protagonists. A thrilling read.
Published 20 days ago by Jacqui Meredith
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant first novel - brilliant novel full stop
If you love Hilary Mantel's books as I do you will read this first novel with that in mind, it is her first, and, in its own way, brilliant, despite some limited characterisation. Read more
Published 20 days ago by irene melia
3.0 out of 5 stars Harder Read than Wolf Hall.
I loved Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies. I had been warned that this book was harder work. It is, I found, much harder but it is worth reading and I am glad I bought it. Read more
Published 22 days ago by Sue McDougall
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good read
Published 25 days ago by AndyT
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by Chris McKeefry
4.0 out of 5 stars I really enjoyed this and felt I understood so much more about ...
I really enjoyed this and felt I understood so much more about the main protagonists in the French revolution than I ever did before...
Published 1 month ago by L. K. Rowley
4.0 out of 5 stars An epic journey through the revolution
I am not one for Historical fiction books so I was excited to read this and see how I got on. I debated whether to order this on Kindle or as a paperback and I decided to stick to... Read more
Published 1 month ago by JoLuJa
5.0 out of 5 stars Perseverance paid off.
I am ashamed to say that I originally bought the paper edition, gave up and car booted it. Lucky bargain hunter. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Gina J
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read in the end but it's far slower going ...
Good read in the end but it's far slower going than any of the Mantel books that I've previously read.
Published 1 month ago by P Clark
4.0 out of 5 stars ... read than Wolf Hall but worth persevering Gives a good look at...
Harder to read than Wolf Hall but worth persevering Gives a good look at events preceding the French Revolution
Published 1 month ago by Nick Pollock
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