Saturday 15 October 2011

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Pages - 471

Published by Bloomsbury in 2010, paperback version published in 2011

Those who can, do.
Those who can't, deejay.
Like Cooper van Epp. Standing in his room - the entire fifth floor of a Hicks Street brownstone - trying to beat-match John Lee Hooker with some piece of trip-hop horror. On twenty thousand dollars' worth of equipment he doesn't know how to use.

Goodreads Summary
Two girls, two centuries and an ocean apart, are thrust together in this gripping novel by the award-winning author of A Northern Light. Brooklyn high school student Andi Alpers feels at the end of several tethers when her father rescues her for a winter break excursion to France. When the ever-curious Andi discovers the ragged journal of an ill-fated Parisian actress, she falls under its thrall. When that emotional connection jolts into the presence, Alpers matures in sudden, unexpected ways.


I have been meaning to read a book by this author forever. I can remember last year when A Gathering Light  was whizzing its way around the blogosphere and I knew then I must buy it, which I did and there it has sat on my shelves ever since. So when I realised Revolution was coming out in paperback, I jumped at the chance to read it. 

For me, this was quite a big book at 470 pages and I found that it required a lot of attention. There is a lot of detail regarding the French Revolution which needs to be absorbed. To be honest, it took the first hundred pages for me to get into this book. The first part is mainly setting up the story, so you can understand Andi's motives later in the book. I struggled at first to identify with Andi, as far as I could see she had a lot of issues that no one seemed to be taking into account, her parents far too busy dealing with their own problems. It is quite obvious that she is crying out for help. She blames herself entirely for the death of her brother, yet she keeps it all locked up inside. I found myself getting annoyed with her and wanting her to see it wasn't her fault.

Once Andi discovers the secret compartment  in the guitar case, this book changed completely for me. In the compartment, she finds a diary of the last days of a young street performer, Alexandrine during the 1700's which details the French Revolution. I found myself lost in the world of the past; the French Revolution had never interested me, but the author brought it alive enough for me to experience what actually went on. I love the way that fact and fiction are entwined, providing a realistic portrayal of the events that occurred. 

Alexandrine was a brave young girl. Once she realised how much she cared for the young prince, she would stop at nothing to try and save him. She risked her life for him. As the story develops, you realise that Andi has the same strength of character and if she had been given the opportunity she would have tried to save her brother in the same way. 

I really enjoyed reading and contrasting modern day Paris, with the Paris of 1753, especially the details concerning the catacombs and the homes in which the Parisians lived.  The way people were treated during the French Revolution was quite atrocious and it is very disturbing to realise that nothing was learnt from that war, as the world went on to do it again and again.  I found it all rather heartbreaking to read. 

The ending of the book took me by surprise. There were elements of it that I never expected, yet in hindsight, they were realistic and true to the book. It was brilliant to see how everything came together by the end and how all the loose strands came together, to provide a satisfying ending.

I really enjoyed reading this book, but it does need time to absorb. This is not a book for quick readers. This is one to be slowly absorbed and enjoyed in order to get the full benefit of the story. 


  1. I really should pick this one up too. It's been sitting on my shelf for a while now and it really does sound great!

  2. Um I have this book on my shelves but hands down your cover is WAY better. Plus, I totally dig your new look. (Or old look and I'm just now getting to it?!)

  3. I've been interested in this book because of the French revolution aspect. I'll have to remember it starts out slow.

  4. i adored this book and was a bit frightened by the size too but SO glad I drove straight in with it!

  5. I've got this and I'm definitely intruiged by it, but wasn't convinced by the split time periods. I'll definitely give it a go though

    thanks for your review!

    The Cait Files

  6. I have seen the other cover and I must say that that one had another feel to it.

  7. Great honest review, I'm still not taken by this one. Not sure it's one for me x

  8. Great review Viv!! I loved this one too and the last hundred pages are amazing!!! :D I really felt for Andi with the whole everyone ignoring her problems thing but I can't imagine what it's like to loose a child or a brother!!

  9. I'll be sure to take my time with this one, then. As you know I adored A Gathering Light, so I have high hopes.

  10. I dont know if I could stick with it if it's hard to get into. The premise does sound good though.

  11. I liked this one too but I know what you mean about taking it in slowly.

  12. I enjoyed this one as well. Donnelly has never disappointed me:)

    Have a great week Viv.


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