Monday, 4 May 2015

Lydia Syson - Liberty's Fire - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Book Review

Book Synopsis: Paris, 1871. Four young people will rewrite their destinies. Paris is in revolt. After months of siege at the hands of the Prussians, a wind of change is blowing through the city, bringing with it murmurs of a new revolution. Alone and poverty-stricken, sixteen-year-old Zéphyrine is quickly lured in by the ideals of the city's radical new government, and she finds herself swept away by its promises of freedom, hope, equality and rights for women. But she is about to be seduced for a second time, following a fateful encounter with a young violinist. Anatole's passion for his music is soon swiftly matched only by his passion for this fierce and magnificent girl. He comes to believe in Zéphyrine's new politics - but his friends are not so sure. Opera singer Marie and photographer Jules have desires of their own, and the harsh reality of life under the Commune is not quite as enticing for them as it seems to be for Anatole and Zéphyrine. And when the violent reality of revolution comes crashing down at their feet, can they face the danger together - or will they be forced to choose where their hearts really lie?

Book Review: If you've ever walked the back streets of Paris, you'll know what I mean when I say about the sense of wonder and history that you feel. It's such an amazing place to visit; a cultural metropolis and one that I absolutely love. However, after reading this book (Paris 1871 setting) this brought my timeless memories crashing down on me.  

I was immediately transported back to the world, and time, when the Paris Commune was the radical municipal government elected to run the French capital (March 1871). This is a forgotten period in history which is brought to life through the magical words and detail used by Lydia. It's beautifully written and, in my opinion, both well researched and thought out. You can really feel the passion the author has for this period - the politics, the equality and rights for women. 

As you follow the four young characters along this compelling plot, it will leave you breathing and living both the sadness and happiness at this time. It depicts the seventy two days of madness, when Paris burned for a week and thousands of Communards were slaughtered on the streets of the city.  This is such a powerful telling of historical events that occurred that I really felt I was living them through the eyes of the characters. 

I felt both the romantic and naive side of the four main characters. They washed over me like blossom petals falling down from a tree on a warm summer's day. I felt every heartbeat through this winding tale of destiny - tragedy, violence and drama. It really made me think about current day life and freedom. This is a book that would be great to take on a trip to Paris as it will certainly open your eyes and connect you to this wonderful city. 

This book is a historical gem. It is a story that I would not normally read, but I'm really glad that I did! It would have been great to have incorporated some period photographs of the time perhaps, especially from the perspective of the lens of Jules. In my opinion, this would have just been the icing on the cake to what is already an amazing story.  

This book was tense, moving and written deeply from the heart. It is a great teenage/adult read that I think more people should be reading and talking about. As you follow the characters, you'll fall in love with the time, the place and them. Hope for a happy ending though as it may not come. Be inspired and read it....   

Paperback: 368 Pages - Publisher: Hot Key Books (7 May 2015) ISBN-13: 978-1471403675

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