Thursday 19 January 2012

Review - Season of Light by Katharine McMahon..

I was delighted to be given the opportunity to review Season of Light by Katharine McMahon for newbooks magazine

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 ......"

Season of Light

Publication Date : November 10th 2011
ISBN: ISBN-13 Number: 9780297853398
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson

My Review

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 !!!


  1. Great review Josie. She is one of my favourite novelists. I love her books. I requested this one a while ago from newbooks and am keeping my fingers crossed that I might get it!

  2. Hope you get the chance to read it Lindsay, if not I'll happily lend you my copy xx

  3. I have mixed feelings about her books a couple I've really loved and a couple I've hated - this is a great review but not sure its one that will appeal to me.

  4. Hi Beadyjan - nice to see you !
    I think that this one is quite easy to read and more of a "romance"'s not quite as heavy as some of her previous books.

  5. I just came across this review - which of course gave me great pleasure to read. The French Revolution was a very tricky period to write about - my biggest challenge yet - and I was definitely in part inspired by Ms Heyer and Austen - I wanted to find out what would happen if a conventional heroine got embroiled in the French Revolution. It proved a challenge for my Asa - and for me.

  6. Hi Katharine - thanks so much for taking the time to read my review, and for giving such a valuable insight into your inspiration for writing "Season of Light".I enjoyed your interpretation of the French Revolution, and thought that Asa lived up to the challenge very well indeed.

    - Good Luck with your future writing projects :)


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