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A Place of Greater Safety Paperback – Nov 14 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 749 pages
  • Publisher: Picador USA (Nov. 14 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312426399
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312426392
  • Product Dimensions: 20.9 x 13.9 x 3.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 544 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #54,958 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Alexandra T. Schultz on June 12 2003
Format: Paperback
I first read this book when I was a senior in high school ten years ago. I was really interested in the French Revolution and all the personalities involved. This book was a beautifully written, sensitive and accurate portrait of the tragic figures of the Revolution. She knew things about Robespierre I thought only I knew that I had read in dusty old volumes you can't even get access to anymore. I remember in the forward she says "if it seems too unlikely to be true it probably is", and that's definitely the case. It was a very touching book and really brilliant in a number of ways. Mantel really understands the eighteenth-century mind better than most authors I've read. Now I'm getting my Ph.D. in history and looking into that period in even more depth! Get this book even if you aren't a history buff, though. It's a great read even if you don't know the first thing about history.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Oothoon13 on July 13 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mantel first impressed me with her vivid characterization of an historical figure in "Wolf Hall", so, when I read up on some of her earlier works, "A Place of Greater Safety" seemed right up her alley. Focusing on three major players in the days leading up to the French Revolution--Desmoulins, Danton and Robespierre--Mantel brought that ability she showed in "Wolf Hall" (that attracted the Man-Booker Prize jurors) to bear almost as well in this much earlier novel: she seems to see into and through the eyes of the personalities of characters who remain for most of us flat and factual, dates, speeches and actions only. I've taught "A Tale of Two Cities" any number of times and Dickens does bring fictitious players of the same era to life. But though I've read significant background to prepare for that teaching, it never occurred to me to imagine how and why Desmoulins stood on the tavern table one significant day. And though the movie "Danton" with Gerard Depardieu gave us a somewhat glorified glimpse into the final and public days of the breakdown of the relationship between that important figure of the Revolution and Robespierre, Mantel, by shifting 3rd-person narration between the three (and extending it to wives, lovers, cuckolded husbands etc.), shows us how three almost-ordinary men found themselves, step-by-small-step, at the centre of something extraordinary and beyond their control.

She says herself that she allows herself the fiction writer's liberties after she has absorbed the facts: she fleshes out the bones with details of muscle and blood that history does not tell us. And she does so so well--as with Thomas Cromwell--because she is a sensitive observer of the human mind and heart.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 30 1998
Format: Paperback
Mantel's very absorbing novel is good for two reasons. First, it evokes an excellent sense of time, of place, and of events, during the French Revolution. Possibly more than any historical work about the events of the Revolution, this novel captures the true zeitgeist of the times. Second, and closely linked to the first reason, is the author's vivid depiction of three characters - Danton, Robespierre and Desmoulins - as living, breathing, sinning creatures. Above all is the author's suggestion of the randomness of events, what we now proclaim History. Revolutions produce upheaval: they displace, promote or overthrow people. And as in life, the author ultimately suggests, we all seek that one thing: a place of greater safety. This book verges on an imperfect brilliance.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rodge TOP 50 REVIEWER on April 13 2011
Format: Paperback
As the revolutionaries develop their society, the events they set in motion and the ideas they espouse set off a serious of violent events that will ultimately devour them. Mantel gets us inside their heads and creates understanding of these fascinating people without letting them off the hook for their errors, in spite of their ideals.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ian Gordon Malcomson HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Sept. 24 2012
Format: Paperback
Recognizing that it took Mantel a painfully long time to bring this book to publication, I am glad she eventually prevailed. Her inaugural work of historical fiction is definitely a winner in so many ways, paving the road to her ultimate success as an internationally acclaimed novelist with two subsequent excellent works. To start things off, she has chosen the French Revolution - one of those most dramatic and baffling periods in modern times - as her subject. While there is a lot of material available to aspiring authors on this most calamitous of times, she has chosen to view it through a different prism than is traditionally available to historians: personalities rather than ideas in collision. On this score, she has plenty to work with within the traditional ranks of the old regime versus the republican cause, but has chosen instead to take the more difficult course and look at three seeming allies within the latter movement. From the individual lives of fellow revolutionaries Danton, Robespierre, and Desmoulins, she weaves a fascinating tale of intrigue, dare, innovation and treachery emerging from relationships borne out of a desire for revolutionary change. All three of these exceptional men came from provincial backgrounds that did not seem to appreciate the potential abilities in oratory, writing, and reasoning to change the world for the better. As Mantel's story progresses, these three young men move to Paris to seek professional careers in a place that lives and breathes humanity. Invariably, Paris, in all its appealing glory and deplorable ugliness, will turn them and their kind into passionate and ruthless revolutionaries who will learn to kill on principle alone.Read more ›
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