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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic book
This book manages to combine history, humor and the best of travel writing all in one. The way the personal anecdotes of a bicycle trip are weaved with historical facts and trivia about France is so clever! Just loved it! In the first chapter I thought the pace was so entertaining and interesting that it would not be possible for the book to keep it up...but it does. Fun...
Published on 31 Mar 2011 by S. Davis

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Enchanting Read
This book was enchanting and had me hooked in from the first page. It contains just the right balance of the past and the present information for the novel to actually work.

It was an interesting novel and brought the reader to small villages within rural France that are unknown to the rest of the world. It was interesting to learn about Marie-Antoinette and...
Published on 19 Sep 2011 by S.Duncan


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic book, 31 Mar 2011
By 
S. Davis (butte, montana) - See all my reviews
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This book manages to combine history, humor and the best of travel writing all in one. The way the personal anecdotes of a bicycle trip are weaved with historical facts and trivia about France is so clever! Just loved it! In the first chapter I thought the pace was so entertaining and interesting that it would not be possible for the book to keep it up...but it does. Fun and full of detail.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative,entertaining and so accessible, 25 Mar 2011
Acquired on an impulse (at less than 3, it wasn't much of a wrench) this book proved a terrific find! A seamless blend of information, entertainment, out loud guffaw inducement, and thought-provokation, Ms Kelly has the joyous knack of entwining story telling with enlightening education.
I found myself enjoying the historical detail equally as much as the domestic frissons, and the fact that you really care about the writer (and her long suffering husband...) only serves to enhance both the tale and the historical context.

If you seek a well-written insight through a small window of history from a seductively normal perspective, with the added bonus of a beautifully observed real-life domestic backdrop, take a punt with this; a charming diversion.

I loved it!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fabulous frolic - a great read!, 27 April 2011
I loved this book for so many reasons. Apart from being a fun read and a wonderful insight into an interesting era of French History and culture, hearing all Susie's tales and anecdotes about the cycling, her husband Terry, her hair styles and horrific clothing had me chortling every time. Her personality shone through and I rather wished I could sit round a table with her as she drank her champagne to have a good chat. Well worth the buy!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To Heaven and Hell and Back, 18 April 2011
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It strange to learn that, at school, history and geography were the author's least favourite subjects. As it is Susie Kelly would have been my choice to teach both of these in Jamie's Dream School!

I've bought other books by Susie Kelly before. Like the best travel writers, I find that time passes quickly in her company. This time the title gives a clue as to the emotional roller coaster you can expect. Kelly is certainly plucky but a natural athlete she is not and much of the book's humour derives from the toll the 750km `marathon' takes on her body and her appearance. I certainly never knew that you could get cold sores on your nose. And I was pleased that her `martyr partner', Terry, was mentioned in the acknowledgements because his easy-going nature and fortitude were needed when the going got tough, which it did. Despite a number of incidents, one involving couscous of all things, their friendship seemed to survive the ordeal.

When it's funny it's laugh-out-loud funny, and when it's sad it is heart-breaking. History provides the foil to the author's wry and informative observations about the French countryside, weather, towns, cities, food, people, customs and people. I thought it would all be about Marie Antoinette and a lot of it is, but the author uncovers interesting historical details from other periods, all along the route. But the thread is provided by the Austrian (that was a surprise) Queen and the tale is harrowing and gut-wrenching. You know how it ends but there's still much to give away, so I won't. All in all it's another thoroughly enjoyable read from this author.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Susie Kelly does it again - a masterpiece!, 29 Jun 2011
By 
Hazel Robertson (Brittany, France) - See all my reviews
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Thank you Susie - The Valley of Heaven and Hell had all the unique skill and humour I found in all your previous books and was well worth the wait!!!! You blend amazing and totally appropriate historical fact, brilliant human insights into the people you meet en route (and yourself and Terry!) and conjure up truly vivid images of the landscape through which you pass. An absolute JOY to read - such a delicious experience I couldn't put it down which meant that it was read all to quickly ...... I will be reading it again to give myself the pleasure of re-entering the Valley of Heaven and Hell.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good fun fast read, 26 Jun 2011
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A good fun read with laugh out loud anecdotes about the hazards of novices on bikes. If you are a first timer on a bike then you won't learn anything about cycle touring or equiptment (except perhaps not to take an electric bike), but you will learn about the mindset of the amateur cyclist in heavy traffic.

The mix of information on places and the way this was integrated into the history of the area and Marie Antionettes journey was seamless, enjoyable and left me wanting to find out a lot more about the French revolution.

I do have a few questions:
What did Terry do to deserve pushing the crazy heavy bike up hills and why didn't the author learn to use sunscreen?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it! Love it!, 31 Mar 2011
By 
Ruth Deborah Rey (Aquitaine, FRANCE) - See all my reviews
The Valley Of Heaven And Hell, cycling in the shadow of Marie Antoinette is a book I will definitely suggest to people who think that the darn ('scuse me) Eiffel Tower is THE thing to see in Paris and that Paris is all you have to see to know France. Suzie Kelly shows us that France is rich, very rich, especially in tradition and history. Bless you, milady Kelly.

I think The Valley Of Heaven And Hell, cycling in the shadow of Marie Antoinette is a very well-written 'patchwork-story' of the author and husband Terry's frolics on the velo, Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI's tragic life, and the combination of history, deep emotions, religion (and anti-religion) made for a solid write.
Besides, combining it all within the sheer madness of two people doing all that on bicycles: brilliant.

Ms Kelly touched me deeply at points (to tears, actually, especially where her own feelings and memories were concerned and made for her emotional reaction to certain historic places) and angered me every once in a while, by telling me too often how awful she looked (she must have, though). Terry's eternal need for food made me grin, but after an even more moving relate about Marie Antoinette and Louis, I felt like bashing him over the head. And Marie Antoinette and Louis? How sad, how very sad to end your young life like that. Served them right? There, too, Suzie Kelly manages to show the so very human side of these human beings, damned to be born to become kings and queens.

In my humble opinion, The Valley Of Heaven And Hell, cycling in the shadow of Marie Antoinette is a lovely, funny, touching, fascinating, instructive book, a darn good tourist guide for one specific part of France and if, at school, children would get history lessons like this one, they'd be much more interested, I'm sure.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, as we've come to expect!, 9 Mar 2012
Well, it's already been said that this book combines history, humour and the best of travel writing. But what can you say about a book which seizes you from the outset, and won't let you go? It's just so entertaining, so informative, so amusing! Susie Kelly is a writer of incredible skill. She is also so disarmingly honest, and never fails to see her own faults or shortcomings in the amazing, anecdote-filled, adventures she describes, this time on a bicycle. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, should read this wonderful book!
Dr F.J.Eva (Pseudonym - James Penhaligon).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Valley of Heaven and Hell - Cycling in the Shadow of Marie-Antoinette, 12 Jan 2012
This is a book I could read again and again. Having read other books by Susie Kelly I knew I wouldn't be disappointed. Once again she has portrayed a story with her exceptional observations. In this book she takes you on 500 miles of a terrific read/ride.

Susie and her husband Terry take you on a bike ride through the Marne Valley following the same route as Marie Antoinette and Louise XV1 in their attempt at escape during the Revolution.

This book is full of fun, sweat and nearly tears. We go from the oppulence of Versailles, to the story of Terry squeezing the bikes into a lift to go up to their hotel room (hilarious and how did he do it?), the beautiful French countryside with the towns and villages they passed through so well described, and then the fears and trepidation of the TUNNEL.

I would have no hesitation in recommending this book - I thoroughly enjoyed the ride/read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Susie does in again, 9 Nov 2013
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This review is from: The Valley Of Heaven And Hell - Cycling In The Shadow Of Marie Antoinette (Kindle Edition)
Very entertaining....as with all Susie Kellys books. Easy reading and author has a great ability to laugh at herself. Would recommend all her books to anybody with the slightest interest in France and the French.
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