Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Jennifer Donnelly, REVOLUTION

Very, very good. As in NORTHERN LIGHT, there is a "twinned" structure. The protagonist teenage-girl-with-a-problem has documents from another young woman in a similar situation. Here, Andi is a musical genius who was not watching out for her brother on the morning he was killed by a madman in Brooklyn. In the case of an old violin in France, she finds a diary of a girl Alexandrine who sent up fireworks in Paris during the French Revolution, trying to comfort the Dauphin, imprisoned in his cell, until he is killed (arguably, also by a madman). The coincidence of Andi going to Paris and being handed a violin case with a compartment that only opens to the key that her brother found in a scrap heap back in Brooklyn ... well, ... but so what. Donnelly writes so well, I feel like I'd be a nitpicking kill-joy if I were going to stick at that. One review I read felt that the second plot (Alexandrine's journal) was made to serve the first, but I felt Donnelly kept them in balance. There's always a risk when writers lean too heavily on letters or journals, but I was drawn along and compelled by Andi's conflicts/plots--her mind-numbing guilt about her brother, her mother's mental illness, her estrangement from her father, her romance with the hot French musician Virgil (!)--and because Donnelly doesn't insert the journal sections in big chunks, I usually felt I was in Andi's head while I was reading them. Thoroughly enjoyable.

1 comment:

  1. Nice review -- my sentiments exactly! But the coincidence you mention has some (hopeful!) backstory. The key was salvaged from the Paradise Theater in New York City. The Paradise was built in 1808. That's right around the time that Alexandrine (Paradis) would have gotten set up if she had managed to escape Paris and made her way to NY to pursue her dream. Hmmm ... !