Book Review: Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Two girls, united in a quest to save a young prince, but separated by over two hundred years. Andi lives in present-day New York and is dealing with the aftermath of her brother's accidental death. Alexandrine lives in Paris and is desperately trying to save a young boy from the ravages of the French Revolution.
Their paths collide as Andi unlocks a route into the past which might just hold the key to reconciling herself with her own history- and her future.
A romantic, utterly engrossing story of two girls, two boys and the heart-wrenching thread that binds them together across the centuries.
Bestselling, award-winning author Jennifer Donnelly has written an incredibly evocative portrait of lives torn apart by grief and mended by love.
I only recently read Jennifer Donnelly's first book, A Gathering Light so I knew she was good. However, Revolution is not just good, it is brilliant, as with her first book I think it will easily cross over into an adult audience.
The book revolves entirely around the two main female characters who are completely believable, I felt as though I knew them so well by the end of the book. Andi is from present day New York, she is extremely intelligent and musically gifted. Her life and that of her family have been torn apart by the death of her younger brother, Truman. Andi blames herself, she feels her father blames her and Andi's mother is barely holding on to life and reality. When Andi's father gets a call from her prestigious high school about Andi's slipping grades, he steps in and places his ex-wife in a psychiatric hospital and takes Andi to Paris with him so she can concentrate on her thesis which she needs to complete in order to graduate.
It is Andi's trip to Paris that introduces us to the second main character. Andi is staying with friends of her fathers and comes across an old guitar case; she discovers that she can open a secret compartment in the case with a key that once belonged to her brother. The case is from the time of the French Revolution  and it contains Alexandrine's diary. She was not trying to save just any boy but the son of Louis XVI who she was the companion of. The young boy is orphaned after his parents are killed and locked in a tower with very little care shown to him. Alexandrine describes in her diary the horrors of the revolution and her struggles to free the boy who she dearly loved.
Louis-Charles was the same age as Truman when they both died, this is something that Andi cannot ignore. She becomes engrossed in Alexandrine's story just as the reader does; she is looking for answers, not only about Louis-Charles's fate but also her own as she struggles to continue on without Truman.
Jennifer Donnelly's writing completely blew me away. She describes the horrors of the French Revolution in great detail so you feel as though you are standing by watching it all happen. I have to be honest in that the French Revolution has never been something that I have been particulary interested in, but having read Revolution I know that I will look into this period of history to find out more.
As the synopsis states, these two young girls are connected by love and grief, emotions that have the same effects no matter what century they are experienced in. Both Andi and Alexandrine are carrying around the burden of guilt which has huge consequences for both of them. Obviously Alexandrine's fate cannot be changed but I kept turning the pages in the hope that Andi will find some kind of resolution.
Revolution is right at the top of the list of my favoutite books this year. The plot and characters are absorbing and the attention to historical detail is amazing. Jennifer Donnelly has written a book that children and adults will greatly enjoy.

Many thanks to Bloomsbury for sending me a copy to review, Revolution is published today.


Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

This is a great, detailed review. I cannot wait to start reading this author myself, as I have Winter Rose and Tea Rose at home. You make her sound so very good and Revolution is going on my wishlist!

Splendibird said...

This is the first review that I've read of this other than my own and I am so glad that someone else loved it as much as I did! I found the storytelling phenomenal and the characters really got under my skin. Great review!

Charlie said...

I want to read more about the French revolution and like Donnelly's work so this is a definite must read. The blend of past and present and the way in which she's done it sounds interesting.

Ralph said...

Great review -- you nailed it. I'd just add that the layers upon layers of nuance and subtlety in this book are amazing. The similarities to Dante's Inferno (both in the book's overall structure and in details such as Virgil and seeing the stars) ... the little coincidences (or are they timeslips?) that keep happening ... the sparrows ... the spoiled kids in Brooklyn acting like the pre-revolution French royalty ... R. Peters = Robespierre ... the list goes on. Did you notice that the full names of Andi and Alex are an anagram? This is one of those books with a life of its own ... revealing more and more the closer you look.

One More Page said...

Such a great book and a fab review!I can't wait to read more from Ms Donnelly.

Dot said...

Irena- I hope that you enjoy it, it is one of my favourite books of 2010!

Splenibird- It's really good isn't it, I felt like I knew the characters so well by the end of the book.

Charlie- I am the other way round, I read this and now I want to know more about The French Revolution.

Ralph- Thank you, there are so many different aspects to this book, I know that I will find something new each time I read it.

One More Page- nor me, I am looking forward to the next one already!

Unknown said...

Like the blog and love the review! :)

Dot said...

ComaCalm- Thank you, I really enjoyed this book!

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