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A Place of Greater Safety Paperback – 4 Mar 2010


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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 x 5.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (171 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,063 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.

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Review

‘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

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 56 people found the following review helpful By onetrack on 27 Aug 2009
Format: Paperback
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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218 of 223 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 3 Feb 2000
Format: Paperback
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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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. K. A. Wheatley TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 14 Jun 2009
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. S. Parry on 20 Oct 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'd never heard of this title but have enjoyed most of Hilary Mantel's books and absolutely loved Wolf Hall. This is an earlier work but shares a lot of the qualities which made Wolf Hall, for me, a stand-out achievement: her ability to manage a huge cast of characters over a turbulent time-span, to bring an intimacy to the main relationships, all in a very easy, witty style which is both contemporary and of its time.
The story of the 3 main protagonists of the French Revolution is told from their childhoods and shows how circumstances drive character and how they were all both the authors of the terrible events of the Revolution and also captured and swept along by what they had unleashed.
The major historical events are nearly always "off-stage" as the novel focuses on the relationships between Robespierre, Danton and Desmoulins, their personal and love lives and their shifting political alliances. It's full of domestic and period details that, although fiction, ring true. The psychology of those who carry out terrible crimes for "the good of the cause" resonates today and you can see parallels with any society that justifies its atrocities in the name of the State.
I loved it, but on ther down side it's hard to keep up with who's who and I kept looking back at the cast of characters provided. In the end I got tired of doing that and just read on: so long as you keep the main characters in your head, you can manage. It is long and if you start reading and then put it aside for a while, it's difficult to remember where you were.
For anyone who's prepared to make a bit of an effort, it's a mesmerising book; when I'd finished I rushed to look up exactly what had happened afterwards and how the 3 main characters had ended up: it's that sort of book.
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