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Topic: 2009 H/F - #8 - Revolution

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Subject: 2009 H/F - #8 - Revolution
Date Posted: 1/13/2009 8:38 AM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 3,823
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8. Viva La Revolution! Read one Historical Fiction book about a revolution, set in the location of your choice.



Last Edited on: 1/13/09 8:47 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/15/2009 2:59 AM ET
Member Since: 8/30/2007
Posts: 3,237
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I read The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy, which takes place during the French Revolution. Very melodramatic, but a fun read.

Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 1/15/2009 7:02 AM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
Posts: 3,067
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Janelle,

I loved the Scarlet Pimpernel. It reminded me a little of Tale of Two Cities which is one of my favorite books. I would love to go see the Broadway Play.

Kat

Date Posted: 1/15/2009 11:47 AM ET
Member Since: 8/12/2005
Posts: 809
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Sheesh, The Scarlet Pimpernel is another book I've been meaning to read "one of these days." I love old swashbucklers, melodrama and all!

Date Posted: 2/7/2009 11:22 AM ET
Member Since: 6/26/2008
Posts: 456
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I just read The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar by Robert Alexander which took place during the Russian Revolution in 1917.  I didn't know what to expect from this book (new author and time period for me too, but I decided to read it for this category since it fit so well), but I was pleasantly surprised! :-)  If you are looking for a short read to help you feel like you've made a dent on this challenge list, this is also a good pick too! :-)



Last Edited on: 2/7/09 11:23 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/7/2009 1:31 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,757
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Brenna - I read The Kitchen Boy earlier this year, and I too really enjoyed it.  I used it for the "new to you" challenge as I had never read anything set in Russia in that time period nor by that author. 

One of the contenders I have for this category is Martha Peake by Patrick McGrath.  I just received it from PBS today.  Anyone ever read this one?  Thoughts? 

 

Date Posted: 2/10/2009 9:10 PM ET
Member Since: 4/15/2005
Posts: 456
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Thanks for the rec on The Kitchen Boy -- I picked it up at the library over the weekend.  I was having a difficult time finding something to fit this challenge b/c I've read so much on the French Revolution and wanted to branch out but not to the American Revolution. :)

Date Posted: 2/17/2009 7:47 PM ET
Member Since: 4/15/2005
Posts: 456
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Brenna/Shelley -

Again, many thanks for the rec of The Kitchen Boy.  I finished it last night (stay up past my bedtime to do so) and LOVED IT!  I find the Romanovs fascinating -- this was a great tale of what their final days might have been like.  I realized afterwards I have Alexander's second novel, Rasputin's Daughter on my bookshelf.  I'll probably end up reading that one shortly. 



Last Edited on: 2/17/09 7:48 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 2/17/2009 10:06 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,757
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Glad you enjoyed it, Marci! I too have Rasputin's Daughter on my bookshelf, but I doubt I'll get to it for awhile. 

Date Posted: 2/27/2009 1:11 AM ET
Member Since: 7/21/2008
Posts: 437
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I read To Live, A Novel by Yu Hua.  An old man tells his life story to a traveler, which took place during the Cultural Revolution in China.  A very simple story that I read very quickly, but one that I think will stay with me.  The old man, Fugui, faces so many struggles in his life, through which he grows and is humbled.  This story was banned in China when it was written (I assume for the negative light it shines on Mao and the revolution), but is now ranked as one of the top ten most influential books in China.  I'm very glad that I read it.

There's a WL waiting list, but I'm going to wait a few days to post it in case anyone here is interested in it. 

Date Posted: 3/20/2009 2:59 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,411
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When I first joined the challenge, I was debating between a novel about the French Revolution (Mistress of the Revolution) or one about the American Revolution, Shadow Patriots, by Lucia St. Clair Robson.  I'm so pleased with my choice to read Shadow Patriots - such a good novel.  Instead of reading about battles, etc.  most of this story is centered around very ordinary people, leading extraordinary lives.  Names such as George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Benedict Arnold, and the British generals Cornwallis and Clinton are mentioned, but they only have supporting roles.  The stars of this novel are the members of the Culper spy ring, who go about thier everyday business while collecting information vital to the American cause.  In checking Wikipedia, the Culper spy ring did indeed include a woman known only as 355.  This novel creates a fictional character who could have been that spy. 

I enjoyed Ms. Robson's writing style.  She includes humor, romance, suspense, and so far as I can tell, pretty accurate historical data.  Highly recommended.  5 strong stars.

Linda



Last Edited on: 3/20/09 2:59 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/20/2009 6:51 PM ET
Member Since: 9/19/2006
Posts: 2,940
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I loved The Kitchen Boy, but didn't like Rasputin's Daughter quite as much.

Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 3/27/2009 8:10 AM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
Posts: 3,067
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I am about halfway through my revolution book. I chose The Last Full Measure by Jeff Shaara. I had read his father'sbook about Gettysburg, THe Killer Angels back in high school (many moons ago). This book is just as enthrauling and is a quick read even though it is  thick book (over 600 ages). The Last Full MEasure picks up the story of the Generals and battesof the Civil War after Gettysburg. I guess I should add that this is book three. Jeff wrote a prequel to his fathers book called Gods and Generals which covers the begining of the war up to Gettysburg.  THe books are novels but based on real people and battles. The author is putting you there to feel the exitement and see both sides of the story. It is really good.

ETA: Finished!! IT was a very good book. I learned a lot.



Last Edited on: 3/31/09 8:42 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/5/2009 8:41 AM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
Posts: 10,479
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I completed The Kitchen Boy (Marci - I think that I got this book from you!) and it is a wonderful book, but oh, so sad! I chose this book for the revolution topic because it was so personal and intimate rather than all blood and guts. Nicholas and Aleksandra may not have been the best monarchs in the world, but their end result was extreme (as of course was that of the whole country).

Date Posted: 4/5/2009 12:21 PM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
Posts: 2,502
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I loved The Kitchen Boy too, Jeanne.  If I hadn't read Mistress of the Art of Death close to the end of the year, KB would have been my choice for best H/F read for 2008.  It did seem very personal and intimate and very sad.  It was one of the best written books I had read in a long time.

Date Posted: 4/5/2009 6:49 PM ET
Member Since: 4/15/2005
Posts: 456
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I read Alexander's other two novels (Rasputin's Daughter and The Romanov Bride) and thought they were equally as good as The Kitchen Boy.  It's an interesting bit of history.  Worth reading if you can get your hands on a copy of either.

Date Posted: 4/5/2009 8:52 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,757
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Cheryl - Oooh, what a great idea for a thread - What Was The Best Book You Read in 2008?  LOL!  I'm glad you liked Mistress of the Art of Death. (it seems to be a favorite around here). I just started it today!  I also loved the Kitchen Boy, and have Rasputin's Daughter on my shelf. 

Subject: City of Darkness, City of Light, Marge Piercy
Date Posted: 4/19/2009 5:49 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,411
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I ready City of Darkness, City of Light by Marge Piercy for my "revolution" challenge. It was a powerful, fascinating and very informative book about the French Revolution.

I think Ms. Piercy's research for this book was top-notch and the format of following six different people from pre-revolution to post-revolution (some of them didn't quite make it to the real "post-revolution") gives the reader diverse viewpoints about what events happened, why they happened and how they happened, etc.. And it's all made much better by the fact that all six main characters were real people, as were a lot of the other characters in the book; so browsing about on the internet was most informative and rewarding.

I have a much better understanding of the French Revolution and the various factions constantly vying for power. I sure have a better understanding about the perfect storm of circumstances that started the French Revolution. And, if someone was wanting a book that did all these things, I would not hesitate to recommend this one.

BUT, if someone is wanting a good, meaty, fast-paced novel set during this time in history, I would say this is not the book. This book is 470 pages of serious writing about serious & complex issues. While extremely well-written, it is not a fast read and it sure isn't a "fun" read. It is what it is - a book about the French Revolution and six people caught up in it - and there wasn't much "fun" during those years!

I am so glad I read it ... but before adding it to your wishlist, or ordering it, please read more about it, read other reviews, etc. to make sure it is to your tastes.

Kelly

 



Last Edited on: 4/19/09 5:50 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/21/2009 9:22 PM ET
Member Since: 6/26/2008
Posts: 456
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Kelly- Oddly enough, I picked this book up on Sunday at my local Friends of the Library sale.  Thank you for giving me a bit more information on it! :-) (My undergraduate history thesis course was on the French Revolution, so I have a bit of a soft spot for it... especially stories about women since that's what I wrote my paper on (The Impact of the FR on Women in English Speaking Nations)...not that I remember much about it anymore...but the soft spot for it is still there...).

I've got a long line of TBR books before I get to this one, but you have me excited to read it when I get there! :-)

 

 

 

Date Posted: 4/22/2009 11:25 AM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,411
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Brenna, given your past studies, you may even know the three main women characters. I did not - in fact, the only characters that were familiar to me at all were Maximilian Robespierre & Nicolas Condorcet. Robespierre I knew from high school world history & references in other books and Condorcet from The Sparks Fly Upward, by Diana Norman (3rd book in a trilogy I highly recommend). My knowledge of, understanding of, awareness of French history is woefully lacking!

The three women featured in the Piercy book are: Claire Lacombe, Pauline Laclerc and Manon Roland. When you get around to reading City of Darkness, City of Light, it will probably be like putting on a favorite old sweater that has been at the bottom of dresser drawer for way too long.

Kelly

 

Date Posted: 4/27/2009 4:11 AM ET
Member Since: 2/20/2009
Posts: 30
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Re American Revolution or thereabouts-- I really recommend The Whiskey Rebels by David Liss.

Re Chinese Cultural Revolution-- Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sije

Shomeret

Date Posted: 4/29/2009 1:07 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2008
Posts: 1,976
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I finally got started on the challenge.  I've been reading other genres.  I read Mistress of the Revolution.  I haven't read much about the French Revolution and I really enjoyed it. 

It's interesting to get different perspectives on the key players, especially Marie Antoinette.  The author seems to have bought into all the negative ideas of MA (promiscuity-male & female, etc.) that I thought had been proven to be without merit.  I will defintely read more on this subject, both fiction and non-fiction

Date Posted: 5/31/2009 11:47 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
Posts: 2,508
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I read 1916: A Novel of the Irish Rebellion by Morgan Llewelyn.  I really enjoyed it - I'd learned about the Easter Rebellion before, but it'd been a long time, so it was great to refresh my history about it, and the storyline was very well done.

Date Posted: 6/1/2009 9:10 AM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,411
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Mimi, Good to know you enjoyed 1916. Morgan Llewelyn is one of my favorite authors, and we have both 1916 & 1921, but they have been languishing at the bottom of the TBR list for probably far too long! You have given me incentive to move them up a little!

Kelly 

Date Posted: 6/1/2009 1:50 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
Posts: 2,508
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I'll have to look for 1921. I agree, I like her writing a lot.

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