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A Place of Greater Safety Paperback – 1 Jul 1993

4.1 out of 5 stars 251 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 896 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (1 July 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140171037
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140171037
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 4 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (251 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 885,422 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Mantel's writing is so exact and brilliant that, in itself, it seems an act of survival, even redemption."--Joan Acocella, "The New Yorker" "More people really need to get with the concept that Mantel is one of the best writers in England." --Zadie Smith, author of "On Beauty" "Brilliant, edgy historical fiction that captures the whiplash flux of the French Revolution with crisp immediacy on the page."--"The Seattle Times" "An epic of extraordinary detail and depth . . . [it] moves beyond the realm of an absorbing yarn into the arena of a literary masterpiece."--"Booklist" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Hilary Mantel is the bestselling author of many novels including "Wolf Hall," which won the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction. "Bring Up the Bodies," Book Two of the Thomas Cromwell Trilogy, was also awarded the Man Booker Prize and the Costa Book Award. She is also the author of "A Change of Climate," "A Place of Greater Safety," "Eight Months on Ghazzah Street," "An Experiment in Love," "The Giant, O'Brien," "Fludd," "Beyond Black," "Every Day Is Mother's Day," and "Vacant Possession." She has also written a memoir, "Giving Up the Ghost." Mantel was the winner of the Hawthornden Prize, and her reviews and essays have appeared in "The New York Times," "The New York Review of Books," and the "London Review of Books." She lives in England with her husband. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Paperback
Another gripping novel from Hilary Mantell, this book spans the final few decades of the 18th Century in France, describing the fall of the Ancien Regime and the rising tides of revolution through the eyes of three men at the centre of these tumultuous events - Danton, Desmoulins and the infamous Robespierre. Mantell has the great knack of being able to give even the most monstrous of characters a human dimension, and there are few more monstrous than Robespierre, the so-called incorruptible who was finally corrupted by the very pursuit of the vertu that was at the core of his political - and philosophical - beliefs. Mantell creates convincing portrayals of an array of characters, describing scenes of great horror with a sense of detachment that somehow magnifies the revulsion we feel. She skillfully handles an extremely complex period of history, revealing the human heart at the centre these remote events. Danton and Desmoulins are at once sympathetic and flawed, and the woman that loved them are given real voices. A wonderful book.
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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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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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