How did your Challenge reading go this month? Were you able to transport yourself to Paris and immerse yourself in some of it’s history and atmosphere? There are certainly no shortage of books set in Paris! Let us know in the comments what you read.
Our main title this month was Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly. Moving between Paris of the 1790s and modern day, this book brings us a unique perspective of the horrors of the French Revolution, and brings greater understanding and compassion to our modern protagonist.
Andi and her family have suffered a traumatic event that has torn them apart. Her mother has withdrawn into obsessive painting and her father has left and started a new family. Andi, grieving and guilt-ridden is angry and acting out, her grades falling, with only her musical talent keeping her moving forward.
When her Father discovers that Andi is about to be expelled from school, he insists that she come with him on a business trip to Paris where she can do research on her thesis away from the distractions at home. Andi is furious, of course, but has no choice. In Paris their hosts gift Andi with a very old, beautiful guitar (Andi’s instrument of choice) While poking around in the guitar’s case she discovers a very old diary and the tiny portrait of a child.
In reading the diary, Andi is plunged into the world of the French Revolution, its horrors and cruelty and uncertainty. The diary writer, Alexandrine, is also an angry young woman, also grieving and fighting back the only way she can. Andi finds herself empathizing with her counterpart and becoming invested in her story.
Revolution plunges the reader into a huge range of experiences – the catacombs beneath the city, both as they are now with paths and in the past when the bodies were still new. We visit the lights and chaos of an illegal underground nightclub, the hushed reverence of a historical library, explore the intricacies of musical creativity and it’s continuing influence and a traditional bar with live music.
While I very much enjoyed the historical parts of this book, I had a little trouble with Andi and her teenage angst. The fact that she matures and grows into a responsible young adult, finding her own worth and talents greatly makes up for this. Paris is truly the star here though, especially the Paris of the Revolution.