PARIS: Alexandrine Paradis lived over two centuries ago. She dreamed of making her mark on the Paris stage, but a fateful encounter with a doomed prince of France cast her in a tragic role she didn't want--and couldn't escape.
Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine's diary, she recognizes something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession. There's comfort and distraction for Andi in the journal's antique pages--until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, Alexandrine's words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present.
Jennifer Donnelly, author of the award-winning novel A Northern Light, artfully weaves two girls' stories into one unforgettable account of life, loss, and enduring love. Revolution spans centuries and vividly depicts the eternal struggles of the human heart.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2010-09-13
- Reviewer: Staff
Donnelly (A Northern Light) melds contemporary teen drama with well-researched historical fiction and a dollop of time travel for a hefty read that mostly succeeds. Andi Alpers is popping antidepressants and flunking out of her Brooklyn prep school, grieving over her younger brother's death. She finds solace only when playing guitar. When the school notifies her mostly absent scientist father that she's flirting with expulsion, he takes Andi to Paris for Christmas break, where he's testing DNA to see if a preserved heart really belonged to the doomed son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Andi is ordered to work on her senior thesis about a (fictional) French composer. Bunking at the home of a renowned historian, Andi finds a diary that relates the last days of Alexandrine, nanny to (you guessed it) the doomed prince. The story then alternates between Andi's suicidal urges and Alexandrine's efforts to save the prince. Donnelly's story goes on too long, but packs in worthy stuff. Musicians, especially, will appreciate the thread about the debt rock owes to the classics. Ages 14–up. (Oct.)
A brother's death sets his sister adrift
Andi Alpers is desperately sad—or perhaps just desperate. Ever since the death of her little brother, she’s been adrift. Her mother has come unhinged, her dad has left his damaged old family for a new life, and Andi is barely holding it together. Only when she’s playing her guitar does she feel sane. When she’s warned that without a stellar senior thesis, she’ll be expelled from her exclusive Brooklyn prep school, her father whisks her away to Paris, where he’s investigating a 200-year-old genetic mystery.
Andi’s ostensibly there to do her own research on a remarkably prescient 18th-century composer and his musical heirs. But almost as soon as she arrives in Paris, she becomes far more invested in the city’s history than she could have imagined. In an antique guitar case, she discovers an ancient diary written by a young woman very much like herself. Alexandrine Paradis was a performer, too, one who got swept up in revolution—and love—despite herself. As Andi reads Alexandrine’s diary, she becomes more and more immersed in the drama of a dead girl and the little boy for whom she sacrificed everything.
As in her previous novel for young adults, the award-winning A Northern Light, Jennifer Donnelly combines impeccable historical research with lively, fully fashioned characters to create an indelible narrative. Revolution is a complex story, moving back and forth in time and including allusions not only to historical events but also to literature (especially Dante’s Divine Comedy) and to music from Handel to Wagner to Radiohead. Yet this undeniably cerebral book is also simultaneously wise and achingly poignant. Alexandrine writes in her diary, “After all the blood and death, we woke as if from a nightmare only to find that the ugly still are not beautiful and the dull still do not sparkle.” Just as Alexandrine comes to terms with her country’s dashed hopes, Andi must find a place where hope—and love—can flourish despite disillusion and despair.