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51 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous
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...
Published on 27 Aug 2009 by onetrack

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Place of Greater Safety
Hard to follow and too many characters - a bit like Wolf Hall but in French! I enjoyed Wolf Hall however, so tried this book - but all it does is to encourage me to read a proper history to try to sort out who is who and what actually happened.
Published on 17 April 2012 by RL


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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A highwayscribery Book Report, 26 Feb 2011
"A Place of Greater Safety," proposes that revolution is a deadly game, even when you win it.

Hilary Mantel uses brushstrokes broad, thin, short, and long in rendering the French Revolution's three main characters: Georges-Jacques Danton, Camille Desmoulins and Maximilian Robespierre, along with enough secondary and minor characters to fill a 1940s period film.

The novel depicts the desperation of those who want to be the protagonists of recorded history. For these hallowed names are certainly larger when attached to their political achievements than when cleaved to their actual personalities.

The author confects the expansive Danton, master orator, accumulator of wealth in defense of the people, slave to his appetites. Desmoulins is stripped down to an uneven boy who craves his father's love, but can write a mean-streak across genres. The in-house scribe to the bloody insurrection.

And then there's Robespierre: ascetic, asexual, emotionally economical, but increasingly haunted by conspiracies and complots, both real and imagined.

Each of them dreams a society the world can adore and imitate. And each helps bring about something infinitely more ghastly, something they'd like to purge from their resumes, but can't, because they are its architects.

"A Place of Greater Safety," is a behind-the-scenes tale that takes the reader from the house of one member of the troika to another, imagines what the wives and lovers of these famed players might have thought, what those drawn to their political strength saw in them, what their nasty habits were and how they impacted the course of Western civilization.

Lady Mantel loves her politics.

If "Wolf Hall" is mostly restrained to the inner workings of the English court and a reduced company of players, "A Place of Greater Safety," takes in the sweep of raging Paris. There are many sly and slippery exchanges among the wittiest men and women of their time, detailing the policy stuff that drove these manic activists.

The piece's tone oscillates dramatically with heroic descriptions of the terrible riots and rampages the revolution unleashed, while dishing up small-bore details like the little red chokers women took to wearing as the terror and guillotine became fixtures of city life.

"Greater Safety" is long and meandering, begging a reader's complete commitment, taking the time for multiple characters to affect one another in organic ways, for planting the deep seeds of their ultimate antagonisms, cutting the sails so that all the windy power of this historical chapter can be captured and drive events forward.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Just about unreadable, 3 Jan 2014
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Alan Urdaibay - See all my reviews
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I am very disappointed. Apart from a few flashes of genius, I agree, the prose is merely pretentious. The characters are merely silly, without exception. I had no sense of realism whatever and have been unable to finish the book.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I wish I had a place of safety from this book..., 11 May 2014
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Look, this is fine writing. It's excellent. It is literary. Everything is here. We know Mantel is one of the greats. But after ploughing through 200 pages of this I'd willingly go to the guillotine.

Great period. Great sense of time and place. Three key characters and their involvement in the revolution. And how they grow up and are driven. All good. But there are just too many other characters. And we get lost between all of them. And after admiration for the writing you feel the first yawn...and the second...and for all the skill here it is plodding and over contrived and you don't get into the story when so much history is thrown out as asides.

One star from Matron for plot. Two stars for quality. Not worth the money, though.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars heavy going, 10 Dec 2013
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Not in the style of the wolf hall books. Possibly personal preference but not a page turner for me I am sure others will like it.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Mantel's best work, 7 Sep 2013
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Having already read two of Mantel's later works, thought I would try one of her earlier ones. Ended up abandoning the novel eventually as, for me, it was a difficult read.
Saying that, the book itself arrived quickly and in great condition for a used item. Amazon's service never disappoints
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Revolution indeed!, 19 Feb 2013
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This is a compelling and gripping book which is beautifully if at times slightly confusingly written and is as educative as it is enjoyable. Although her later books are better constructed and more fluid, this one is still worth the effort. Reading this book adds an extra layer of understanding to the controversy now breaking around Hilary Mantel, provoked by her LRB lecture on royalty, myth, privilege and perception. Was her analysis in the lecture, equalled in fictional form by her recreation of the events of the French revolution in this book, a warning of any kind or merely a piece of historical-literary criticism applied, perhaps mistakenly, to the living? Is the controversy some kind of revenge itself for the terrifying facts revealed in this novel, at least terrifying if you happen to be rich and powerful, of what happens when a government loses control of the economy and loses the trust of the people? This book is itself more than fiction, it is a political critique on the terrible currents of privilege set against poverty underpinned by soaring inflation and governmental incompetence. She writes evocatively about the first, second and third estates and we understand, or at least I understood, in a new way their evolution. Now, though, following her own 'treatment' at the hand of that venerable institution, the Daily Mail, she is in the process of having her own head metaphorically chopped off by, of all things, the fourth estate. Revolution indeed. I look forward very much indeed to Mantel's historical novel on the birth of this estate in the grub of Fleet Street, and to her own literary revenge on the Mail, which surely cannot be long in coming. Revolution indeed.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Place of Greater Safety, 30 Dec 2012
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J. Elliott - See all my reviews
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I am enjoying this book but find it is not so good as Wolf Hall. This maybe that I am more familiar with our history around the time of Henry V111 and therefore don't find I have any difficulty with the characters. That said, it is well written and I am learning as I go along.!!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't disappoint, 5 Dec 2012
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I read this after reading Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies so had great expectations. I wasn't disappointed. Mantel gives the reader plenty to think about and gives her angle on a part of history we think we know something about.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 26 July 2014
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Good read
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 16 July 2014
This review is from: A Place of Greater Safety (Paperback)
Excellent
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A Place of Greater Safety
A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel (Paperback - 4 Mar 2010)
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