I loved this book. I simply didn’t want it to end; it was exactly what I enjoy in a book.
Revolution has two main characters. Andi is in the present time. She’s suffering from depression because she feels responsible for the death of her little brother. She attends a prestigious private school, and is in danger of not graduating because she won’t write her senior thesis. Her mother is also suffering from mental illness, and when her father appears (they are divorced) and sees how Andi and her mother are living, he puts her mother in a hospital, and takes Andi with him to Paris, hopefully to work on her thesis. She’s a gifted musician, and while staying with friends (Lili and G) who collect antiquities, she finds an old guitar and in the case is a very old diary.
The diary belongs to our second main character, Alex, who lived in the late 1700s, and explains much about the beginning of the revolution in France. Alex is the companion of the prince, Louis-Charles, who is the heir to the throne. He is the son of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVII, and after they were beheaded, Louis-Charles was imprisoned, suffered horribly, and died at the age of ten.
So Andi is reading this diary, and in the mean time her father (who is a Nobel winning scientist) is trying to determine, using DNA testing, whether an old shriveled up heart that G has acquired belonged to Louis-Charles. She is also researching a composer, Amande Malherbeau, who was composing during the late 1700s also. So the plot intricately weaves together, and although far-fetched, I totally believed it.
This book has everything. The names that Vijay (Andi’s friend) calls his mom made me laugh out loud. The romantic scene at the Sacre-Coeur made my heart melt. The tour of the catacombs had my hair standing on end. The stories of the children, both Louis-Charles and Andi’s brother, made me weep.
The descriptions of the settings were fantastic. I have been to Versailles, and I could picture every room as if I were there again. I want so badly to hear Andi play the guitar; I felt I almost could as I read the story. The descriptions of the mud and dirt and smell of 18th century Paris made my stomach turn.
Andi’s romantic interest, Virgil, adds to the story also, especially musically. He is a well-defined character, and an entertaining rapper! I loved the musical references. Everything from Bach and Mozart, to Led Zeppelin and the Ramones. It was simply amazing how Donnelly used music to help tell the story.
If I had a problem with the book, it would be the fact that the diary is not chronological. Every time I began reading an entry, it would take me a minute to orient myself to where and when Alex was writing about. This is a minor complaint, and didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book.
The ending is satisfying and comforting, which is nice once in a while. I have one question for those who have read or will read this book: What happened to the iPod? Wouldn’t it have had a great impact at the end of the story if Andi couldn’t find her iPod? I thought it was an unresolved issue that should have been addressed.
I’m sure this isn’t a book for everyone. It is beautifully written, but if you don’t like historical fiction, this probably won’t be one of your favorites. But that won’t keep it from being one of mine.