I've long been a fan of Katharine McMahon. She writes essentially good historical novels, and has covered quite diverse periods in history from the Crimean war in the Rose of Sebastopol, through to her latest book Season of Light , which is set during the turbulent times of the French Revolution. Since this sort of fits in with my theme of reading A Tale of Two Cities, I was intrigued to see how the two books would compare. Obviously Dickens has a charm all of his own, but it was quiety reassuring to see that the title of Katharine's book is taken from the stunning opening passage from A Tale of Two Cities...
"It was the best of times , it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief , it was the epoch of incredulity , it was the season of light ......"
Publication Date : November 10th 2011
ISBN: ISBN-13 Number: 9780297853398
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Paris in 1788 is on the brink of revolution. In the genteel salons of the aristocracy, nineteen year old ingénue, Thomasina Ardleigh is introduced to the scintillating world of the revolutionary, where she falls completely in love with the handsome and dangerous, Didier Paulin. When family circumstances force Thomasina to return home to England, she never forgets her love affair, and continues to hope for future happiness with Didier. However, the wheels of the revolution threaten the very safety of all those who remain in Paris and in 1793 when Thomasina secretly returns to France, her search for Didier involves her in dangerous political intrigue.
Reminiscent at times of the early work of Georgette Heyer, this novel is primarily a love story, and yet in the background, the French revolution is always bubbling under the surface, with enough description of historical events to make the story meaningful, and informative. I particularly enjoyed the social and political imagery of the revolution, and felt that the involvement of real historic figures helped to put the story into context. The social observations of Georgian England with all its faults and failings is very well done, particularly the descriptions of matrimonial conspiracies, and the lengths people went to, in order to maintain wealth and prosperity.
Overall, I thought that this was a really enjoyable read. The French Revolution is a huge topic to write about, and yet the author manages to convey the story without becoming over involved in sheer horror. There are some nice touches throughout, with likeable and believable characters, and a pleasing conclusion. I enjoyed it, and recommend it to those of my friends who enjoy historical novels.
I've given the book 5 stars - a sign of a good book for me is when I want to keep turning the pages, in order to find out just a little bit more .....and I know you really shouldn't judge a book by its cover ...but I really do like this one !!!