Top positive review
6 people found this helpful
Gripping account of women as sisters, friends & rivals in revolutionary Paris
on 30 January 2012
This is the third novel of Melanie Clegg's I've read, and as I am writing this review at 1:21am, you may surmise I was thoroughly gripped by it and couldn't sleep until I finished reading it! Many historical novels set against such a huge backdrop of revolutionary France can lose their way, but Melanie's skill is to weave together the stories of the main protagonists while zooming in to focus on their intensely passionate (in every sense) relationships. I read a review elsewhere that this author's greatest achievement is to write so honestly about the way women treat eachother - I certainly agree. Here we see women as silly girls, blooming into women or becomming embittered by the vagaries life throws at them; women as sisters, friends and bitter rivals; women supporting or stabbing eachother in the back. I haven't read The Buccaneers (shockingly!) on which this book is based, so cannot comment on the similarities or otherwise between the two, but I can say that every character is beautifully sketched and you feel like you have known many of them for ages. My favourite character was Clementine, and I did literally gasp at several points in the novel, as she doesn't have an easy time of it, to say the least. That's a feature of Before the Storm - you find yourself so wrapped up in the story you are swept up in the trials and tribulations of the characters so much, you almost feel you are watching a play based around people you know. Dramatic it certainly is, but with a wry sense of humour, too. No stereotypical historical characters here, they are well drawn & leave you desperate to know more about them! I'd love to read Eliza's diary, to know more of Venetia's exotic background and hear all the nasty, gossipy conversations between the wonderfully awful Corisande and her maid. Just wonderful and a complete bargain - do yourself a favour & grab a copy, I've treasured the time I spent losing myself in the story.