Book Review: Annette Vallon, A Novel of the French Revolution by James Tipton

Before I begin this review I want to express how much I loved this story. Of all the books I read this month for September in Paris Reading Challenge 2012, this has been my favorite.
(I've not finished reading A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens).
Annette Vallon was the daughter of a physician. Her siblings were Marguerite, Etienne, and Angelique. The novel begins in 1785. Annette was sixteen and had just finished convent school. Her mother is in negotiations of arraigning a marriage. A music and dance instructor is hired for Annette. He is a rogue and Annette becomes a casualty. In 1789 Annette made a statement of belief that "the French Revolution began over bread". Rioting begins, uprisings, murders, looting, civil unrest. There are three estates: The third estate meant all French except clergy and nobles. Annette's family is apart of the third estate. During this period the young English poet William Wordsworth came to France. It was at a ball that he and Annette met. She could not pronounce his last name, she did notice his glowing sharp blue eyes. Their "epic" affair would be the theme of this novel. The French Revolution is the backdrop, a large backdrop, but it is the affair, and Annette's love for William that would be the crown.
William Wordsworth 1770-1850
Positive Points:

  • Annette was not apart of the first or second estates, she was apart of the third estate. Being apart of the third estate Annette was more identifiable with the people of France. I consider her in what would be called upper middle class, but of all the books I've read thus far of the French Revolution she is a character that was closest to the everyday people because she had more contact with them.
  • Annette' character was an introspective person. She was a keen observer. She had a quiet strength. She was brave, daring and bold in helping others. She was self-sacrificing, firm of purpose, devoted, committed, loyal. I consider her a heroine. 
  • Annette and William's affair was not a tryst, or casual agreement of sex. It was an epic love that continues on in his poetry. 
  • I needed a box of Kleenex near me while reading the book----the story affected me emotionally (a rarity).
  • This novel is written by a man from the perspective and about a woman. He did a splendid job!
Negative Points:
  • This is a work of fiction, history knows little about Annette Vallon. There were a couple of letters found that she'd written that gave indications of their love affair. Other information has also been found about their relationship and about her work during the Revolution. The author did take liberties in writing this historical fiction story. I knew when I began the novel that it was a work of fiction, based on a scant amount of fact. Other reviewers may find such a scant amount of information unreliable and the authors liberty in writing this novel inappropriate. Remember it is a work of fiction.

Published by Harper Collins Paperback in 2008, Hardcover 2007
Historical Fiction/French Revolution/ Paris/France/September in Paris Reading Challenge 2012/18th Century/Royalty/William Wordsworth/Romantic Period of Poetry/Romance
528 pages

Link @ Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0060822228?ie=UTF8%20&tag=harpercollinsus-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0060822228
Paperback $5.98
Kindle $7.99
Book #7 in September in Paris Reading Challenge 2012

Comments

  1. This sounds great! I'm finishing Madame Tussaud probably today or tomorrow and I have enjoyed it so much! I will def make a note of this one too. I really knew NOTHING about the French revolution. I've been having a lot of ah-ha moments :-)

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  2. Thank you so much Missy for commenting. I'm glad you enjoyed Madame Tussaud, hoping you'll like this book on Annette Vallon too.

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  3. I bought this at a used book store a few years ago. But becuase of it's heft, it's languised there...need to dust it off, thanks to your thoughts!

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