In a substantial shift from her recent fantasy/horror efforts (Darkness, I, 1996, etc.), Lee turns to the dreams and horrors...



In a substantial shift from her recent fantasy/horror efforts (Darkness, I, 1996, etc.), Lee turns to the dreams and horrors of the French Revolution to give a sexually charged, if massive, account of its first citizens. (See also Marge Piercy's latest, below.) Narrated by firebrand Camille Desmoulins, whose words from tabletop and printing press helped spark the Revolution's triumphs, the story begins just before the storming of the Bastille. By means of a single speech at a pivotal moment and a manifesto published soon after, little-known, impoverished Camille sets the Paris mob in motion, earning the sobriquet ""Author of the Revolution."" A number of figures attempt to harness or exploit Camille's fame--most prominent among them being Danton, larger than life, who takes Camille under his wing, sharing ideas and prostitutes with him in equal measure. Camille's newfound glory also convinces the lovely Lucile's father to agree to their marriage, giving Camille the prize of his dreams as well as an unshakable advocate at his side. The triumph of toppling the king is paralleled by Lucile's giving birth to a son, but in the hard days to follow, with enemies of the Republic gathering outside and inside its borders, with Paris starving, and with factions within the new government increasingly at each other's throats, Camille has little cause for rejoicing. As heads roll in increasing numbers, including those of friends, he is torn by old loyalties and the desire to maintain his own fiery influence on the public mood. Inevitably, Camille is destroyed by the Revolution he helped begin and is sent with Danton to the guillotine--knowing that his cause is doomed and that his beloved Lucile will very likely follow him shortly. A familiar story, certainly, but told with feeling and force: The private lives and thoughts of Camille and his contemporaries emerge in ways both credible and compelling, giving this version of the French Revolution a distinctive aura of personal tragedy.

Pub Date: Nov. 25, 1996


Page Count: 672

Publisher: Overlook

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1996

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