“The whole population seems to have gone out: it abounds along the streets and pour over the squares in the boiling heat to the public gardens with its wide chestnut-lined avenues and its Orleanist couplings. The price of bread has just gone up. Foreign troops are stationed outside the city. The order is a thing of the past, the law has an unsteady grip. [...] And over everything is the sun a wound, a boiling tropical eye. “The scene is Paris in July 1789. The revolution is a breath away. One of those who have longed is the hot-blooded lawyer Camille Desmoulins. When he steps up at a cafe table to give speeches to the masses before the storming of the Bastille, he can not help but wonder if it really happens – is it for real?
Hilary Mantel tells us in his preface to this novel , which was her first (utkommen in England in 1992), it was born out of her fascination with the French revolution, “the most surprising and most interesting has happened in the entire history of the world.” She hangs up the great and unfathomable progress in three key people: already said Desmoulins and Georges Danton and Maximilien Robespierre. She also does her best to fill their relatively thin person acts, with mixed results. Completely she manages not prevent the flow into each other.
“Freedom” is generally wider than it is deep. The extensive gallery of characters is partly an investment for the next two parts, but in this first part creates the most vertigo. Unlike Mantels books on Tudor times, where the multiple Cromwellgestalten is the prism that everything is broken through, lacking Freedom is an obvious center. It sparkles on some things and gnashing otherwise. Densified imaginative sections interspersed with straight retelling parties that are not actually much more entertaining than any textbook at any time.
All this does not prevent Hilary Mantel, when the bell rings for the last lap, showcasing a dazzling spurt. Her way to empathize with the feelings and events that finally got the entire French state apparatus to collapse is simply dazzling. These final pages are also, in their reluctance to tie things up and rest in an expected final chords, an excellent example of Mantels particular method. When many who writes historical novels effort to make the time they portray understandable and recognizable, perhaps as a result of that they have put a lot of effort to understand it, she is often the opposite. In her remains absurd absurd, and an event sees only rarely as a thought.