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Where the Light Falls: A Novel of the French Revolution

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A rich and sweeping novel of courage, duty, sacrifice, and love set during the French Revolution from New York Times bestselling author Allison Pataki and her brother Owen Pataki Three years after the storming of the Bastille, the streets of Paris are roiling with revolution. The citizens of France are enlivened by the ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity. The monarc A rich and sweeping novel of courage, duty, sacrifice, and love set during the French Revolution from New York Times bestselling author Allison Pataki and her brother Owen Pataki Three years after the storming of the Bastille, the streets of Paris are roiling with revolution. The citizens of France are enlivened by the ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity. The monarchy of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette has been dismantled--with the help of the guillotine--and a new nation is rising in its place. Jean-Luc, an idealistic young lawyer, moves his wife and their infant son from a comfortable life in Marseille to Paris, in the hopes of joining the cause. Andre, the son of a denounced nobleman, has evaded execution by joining the new French army. Sophie, a young aristocratic widow, embarks on her own fight for independence against her powerful, vindictive uncle. As chaos threatens to undo the progress of the Revolution and the demand for justice breeds instability and paranoia, the lives of these compatriots become inextricably linked. Jean-Luc, Andre, and Sophie find themselves in a world where survival seems increasingly less likely--for themselves and, indeed, for the nation. Featuring cameos from legendary figures such as Robespierre, Louis XVI, and Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, Where the Light Falls is an epic and engrossing novel, moving from the streets and courtrooms of Paris to Napoleon's epic march across the burning sands of Egypt. With vivid detail and imagery, the Patakis capture the hearts and minds of the citizens of France fighting for truth above all, and for their belief in a cause greater than themselves. Praise for Where the Light Falls "Compulsively readable . . . a compelling tale of love, betrayal, sacrifice, and bravery . . . a sweeping romantic novel that takes readers to the heart of Paris and to the center of all the action of the French Revolution."--Bustle "Succeeds in forcefully illustrating the lessons of the French Revolution for today's democratic movements." --Kirkus Reviews "Devotees of Alexandre Dumas and Victor Hugo will devour this tale of heroism, treachery, and adventure." --Library Journal "This is a story of the French Revolution that begins with your head in the slot watching how fast the blade of the guillotine is heading for your neck--and that's nothing compared to the pace and the drama of what follows."--Tom Wolfe


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A rich and sweeping novel of courage, duty, sacrifice, and love set during the French Revolution from New York Times bestselling author Allison Pataki and her brother Owen Pataki Three years after the storming of the Bastille, the streets of Paris are roiling with revolution. The citizens of France are enlivened by the ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity. The monarc A rich and sweeping novel of courage, duty, sacrifice, and love set during the French Revolution from New York Times bestselling author Allison Pataki and her brother Owen Pataki Three years after the storming of the Bastille, the streets of Paris are roiling with revolution. The citizens of France are enlivened by the ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity. The monarchy of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette has been dismantled--with the help of the guillotine--and a new nation is rising in its place. Jean-Luc, an idealistic young lawyer, moves his wife and their infant son from a comfortable life in Marseille to Paris, in the hopes of joining the cause. Andre, the son of a denounced nobleman, has evaded execution by joining the new French army. Sophie, a young aristocratic widow, embarks on her own fight for independence against her powerful, vindictive uncle. As chaos threatens to undo the progress of the Revolution and the demand for justice breeds instability and paranoia, the lives of these compatriots become inextricably linked. Jean-Luc, Andre, and Sophie find themselves in a world where survival seems increasingly less likely--for themselves and, indeed, for the nation. Featuring cameos from legendary figures such as Robespierre, Louis XVI, and Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, Where the Light Falls is an epic and engrossing novel, moving from the streets and courtrooms of Paris to Napoleon's epic march across the burning sands of Egypt. With vivid detail and imagery, the Patakis capture the hearts and minds of the citizens of France fighting for truth above all, and for their belief in a cause greater than themselves. Praise for Where the Light Falls "Compulsively readable . . . a compelling tale of love, betrayal, sacrifice, and bravery . . . a sweeping romantic novel that takes readers to the heart of Paris and to the center of all the action of the French Revolution."--Bustle "Succeeds in forcefully illustrating the lessons of the French Revolution for today's democratic movements." --Kirkus Reviews "Devotees of Alexandre Dumas and Victor Hugo will devour this tale of heroism, treachery, and adventure." --Library Journal "This is a story of the French Revolution that begins with your head in the slot watching how fast the blade of the guillotine is heading for your neck--and that's nothing compared to the pace and the drama of what follows."--Tom Wolfe

30 review for Where the Light Falls: A Novel of the French Revolution

  1. 4 out of 5

    Angela M

    I don't know very much about the French Revolution or really very much about this time in French history at all. While I was interested in the historical aspects of this book, my choice to read it was mostly based on the descriptions of the characters in the book blurb which appealed to me, as well as the desire to just read something different. It was through some fascinating characters, some fictional, some real people and some based on real people that the events of the times and the spirit o I don't know very much about the French Revolution or really very much about this time in French history at all. While I was interested in the historical aspects of this book, my choice to read it was mostly based on the descriptions of the characters in the book blurb which appealed to me, as well as the desire to just read something different. It was through some fascinating characters, some fictional, some real people and some based on real people that the events of the times and the spirit of the times were brought to life for me . It did though take me a while to get into the story, but once I did I was captivated by the lives of the four main protagonists even though we do meet the likes of Robespierre and Napoleon. Jean-Luc St. Clair, an young attorney, dedicated to the new government and the ideals of freedom and equality takes a job in Paris. His wife Marie, one of my favorite characters is strong and full of loyalty to the causes of freedom as well. Andre de Valiere, a nobleman stripped of his "de" which classifies him as of that class is a soldier also dedicated to moving France forward after the revolution. Sophie is the young widow that Andre falls in love with and because she is being "protected" by her Uncle, really the epitome of evil, Andre's life is in peril. How the paths of these four characters cross and how their lives become connected represented one level of the story - these individuals, the love and friendship, hopes and dreams. The bigger picture also is of what was happening in the country and the role these people played is also depicted. I was especially impressed by the strength and courage of Sophie and especially Marie at a time when women had no rights. I appreciated the authors' note about which characters were real, which were fictional and which were based on real people. It appears that the story was well researched. It is 3.5 stars because of how long it took me to really be engaged but rounded up to 4 stars for the strength of the second half of the book. Recommended to readers of historical fiction. I received an advanced copy of this book from The Dial Press/Random House Publishing Group-Random House through NetGalley and Edelweiss.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Fran

    1792, Paris. Three years after the beginning of The French Revolution, more than half the population of Paris was still starving. Hunger, anger, and hatred created bloodlust on execution day at La Place de la Revolution. Based upon The Law of Suspects, "a mere rumor of a man's royalist leanings...was substantial enough to send him on a tumbril ride to the guillotine." The crowd cheered as heads rolled. Anyone could be seized, jailed and subsequently guillotined. Andre Valiere joined the revolutio 1792, Paris. Three years after the beginning of The French Revolution, more than half the population of Paris was still starving. Hunger, anger, and hatred created bloodlust on execution day at La Place de la Revolution. Based upon The Law of Suspects, "a mere rumor of a man's royalist leanings...was substantial enough to send him on a tumbril ride to the guillotine." The crowd cheered as heads rolled. Anyone could be seized, jailed and subsequently guillotined. Andre Valiere joined the revolutionary cause by swearing allegiance to the new government. Born a nobleman, he hoped his royal birth would be overlooked since he denounced property, possessions and a royal title. Andre's father had been guillotined. Captain Andre Valiere fought alongside General Christophe Kellermann and Brigadier General Nicolai Murant in the Bois de Valmy. The French army was able to prevent a march on Paris that would have reinstalled Louis XVI on the French throne. Christophe Kellermann's status as a decorated war hero was short-lived. His suggestion that Louis XVI be given a fair and honest trial led to his denouncement and imprisonment in Le Temple Prison. Kellermann would be prosecuted by Guillaume Lazare, arguably the finest legal mind in Paris. Jean-Luc St. Clair and wife Marie came to Paris to join the supporters of liberty, equality and fraternity. Jean-Luc worked as an administrative attorney for the new government. He catalogued property seized from wealthy families and managed "the spoils". He decided to defend Kellermann with the help of character witness Andre Valiere. Kellermann had saved Andre's life at Valmy. Jean-Luc, an inexperienced lawyer boldly challenged Lazare, adding to, and further complicating, an existing vendetta that attempted to expunge any and all persons, young or old, who possessed noble blood. The Reign of Terror continued to barrel out of control creating a chaotic web sweeping up Andre and Jean-Luc who were trying to live free from fear and oppression. "Where The Light Falls" by Allison Pataki and Owen Pataki was an enlightening and enjoyable historical fiction rendering of the plight of nobles, clergy and commoners during The French Revolution. Although the ending seemed a little contrived, I would recommend this tome without reservation. An excellent read. Thank you Random House Publishing Group-Random House and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review "When The Light Falls".

  3. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    Winter, 1792. What an amazing beginning! This book starts off with a bang. Or should I say a swoosh? From there, we go back in time a few months as Jean Luc St. Clair works for the new government cataloging the properties and goods that formerly belonged to the nobility. He is caught up in the new order and the formation of the new government. His chapters alternate with Andre Valiere’s story, a captain in the Revolutionary Army. This was a part of the French Revolution I knew nothing about. It Winter, 1792. What an amazing beginning! This book starts off with a bang. Or should I say a swoosh? From there, we go back in time a few months as Jean Luc St. Clair works for the new government cataloging the properties and goods that formerly belonged to the nobility. He is caught up in the new order and the formation of the new government. His chapters alternate with Andre Valiere’s story, a captain in the Revolutionary Army. This was a part of the French Revolution I knew nothing about. It stands to reason that the rest of Europe wouldn't sit back and allow the destruction of the aristocracy, but I hadn't realized there had been a war between the newly formed France and the rest of the continent. I really liked this book. It told an interesting story. The scenes were all so well drawn, as to take you right into the time and place. The authors do a wonderful job of showing the reader the progression of the aftereffects of the Revolution through the stories of its two main characters; how quickly fear and hatred consumed the country, how questioning any act of the government became sedition, how Revolution quickly became Terror. I like nothing better than an historical novel that teaches and entertains simultaneously and this book did this well. And yes, I'm one of those folks who start researching the actual events while still reading the book. This research shows the facts about a major historical figure were twisted in the book, which disappointed me. The authors do point out this incongruity in their authors’ note but it was a big enough event that it still bothered me. Time and time again, this book made me realize how unique the American Revolution was, because we had no nobility to remove. The French Revolution had way more in common with the Russian Revolution and the need to eliminate the aristocracy, even those that supported the revolution. My thanks to netgalley and Random House for an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    Thanks to Goodreads, the authors, and the publisher for the early copy of Where the Light Falls. If you remember anything about the French Revolution from history class, you remember The Terror; and that is vividly depicted in this book. There was clearly a great deal of research to write this novel, and I love that the authors are siblings. I have read and enjoyed The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki and have been looking forward to WTLF. This was a slow-building historical, which worked we Thanks to Goodreads, the authors, and the publisher for the early copy of Where the Light Falls. If you remember anything about the French Revolution from history class, you remember The Terror; and that is vividly depicted in this book. There was clearly a great deal of research to write this novel, and I love that the authors are siblings. I have read and enjoyed The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki and have been looking forward to WTLF. This was a slow-building historical, which worked well for me until I got to the middle, and then it felt a little draggy. It picked back up again towards the latter half. I was easily drawn into the characters' lives. I have read some other books about the French Revolution, Napolean, and time period, and this book offered different perspectives - one of a a former noble/military captain, an underpaid lawyer working for the Revolution, and two empowered women for the time. It is hard to fathom how the want for positive change wound up being so blood thirsty and tumultuous. This book had its flaws, but overall was enjoyable for me. I think my friends who enjoy slower-moving historicals will like it, especially if they are already fans of Allison Pataki's writing. 2017 Summer Vacation Book #2

  5. 5 out of 5

    Marialyce

    If anyone tries to tell you that our American Revolution was just like the one carried on in France, all you need to do is to point them in the direction of this novel to disabuse them of that concept. The French Revolution was a bloody horrible time in which men women, and children were wantonly marched to the guillotine because of either having royal blood or being suspected of possibly having said something that might be interpreted as being in support of the monarchy. A simple passing word o If anyone tries to tell you that our American Revolution was just like the one carried on in France, all you need to do is to point them in the direction of this novel to disabuse them of that concept. The French Revolution was a bloody horrible time in which men women, and children were wantonly marched to the guillotine because of either having royal blood or being suspected of possibly having said something that might be interpreted as being in support of the monarchy. A simple passing word or sentence could have been picked up, misinterpreted, or perhaps not even spoken and one could find themselves marching up the steps to their beheading. In this age of fear, lives a young idealistic lawyer, Jean-Luc, his wife, Marie, and a young son. We also are introduced to the young sons of a royally connected family. Both sons, Andre and Remy, are fighting for the Revolution having given up and denounced their royal blood. However, for some this is not enough as we witness the villains of this story in the form of one lawyer and a despicable general who are filled with rage, jealousy, and contempt. These two, the general and the lawyer, want nothing more then to see the young soldiers dead. When Andre falls in love with the niece of the general his days are numbered and his life and that of his beloved Sophie are turned upside down. This tale is woven around these two families and how they interconnect as they all try to fathom the hatred, the wanton killings, and the need for blood that seems to be the path the revolutionaries embarked upon. The authors do a fine job of telling the story while also informing us of the historical nightmare one experienced as they lived in France, particularly Paris, in those days. This was not light fare. It was not a novel that one could breeze through without the many thoughts of the way history has been able to or at least tries to tell us that hate is a derisive, corrosive element in our past as it seems now to be rearing its ugly head in our present as well. We can't forget our past, our history. We can't pretend it never existed for if we do we are doomed to repeat its countless mistakes. This is a book well worth your time if you at all like historical fiction. It also is a cautionary tale of what hate did and how it corrupts and tears apart all that is wonderful about being human.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Burnett

    Where the Light Falls appealed to me because I have not read much about the French Revolution. Allison Pataki and her brother Owen tackle the subject matter with finesse and detail providing me with the opportunity to feel as if I was there experiencing the trials and tribulations of the revolution and its aftermath. I found the book to be a nice change of pace from WW I and WW II historical fiction and enjoyed the author’s note at the end explaining which individuals actually existed and which Where the Light Falls appealed to me because I have not read much about the French Revolution. Allison Pataki and her brother Owen tackle the subject matter with finesse and detail providing me with the opportunity to feel as if I was there experiencing the trials and tribulations of the revolution and its aftermath. I found the book to be a nice change of pace from WW I and WW II historical fiction and enjoyed the author’s note at the end explaining which individuals actually existed and which were fictional characters created by the Patakis. For those who love historical fiction and are looking for a different time frame to read about, this is the book for you!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    Thanks to NETGALLEY for an uncorrected proof in exchange for an honest review. Superb! Fantastic! The historical fiction of the summer that will sweep readers back to revolutionary France. This book was AMAZING and really made me feel as if I was present during the Reign of Terror. I loved the characters, the writing, the atmosphere, the collaboration between Allison and Owen etc. Hands down one of my favorite books about the time period.

  8. 5 out of 5

    BAM Endlessly Booked

    Many thanks to Allison Pataki, Owen Pataki, Random House, and Netgalley for the free copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. This is the trailer park version of A Tale of Two Cities and Les Mis . Set during the French Revolution it involves the values of fraternity and equality, but there was little in the plot that affected my emotions. Lawyers battle to outwit each other, soldiers strive to survive. Will love conquer all? For those who are only interested in a good story set durin Many thanks to Allison Pataki, Owen Pataki, Random House, and Netgalley for the free copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. This is the trailer park version of A Tale of Two Cities and Les Mis . Set during the French Revolution it involves the values of fraternity and equality, but there was little in the plot that affected my emotions. Lawyers battle to outwit each other, soldiers strive to survive. Will love conquer all? For those who are only interested in a good story set during this time of upheaval but don't care about a dose or three of history, then by all means read. I require more factual accuracy in my fiction and a little more pull on my heartstrings.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Angie

    Great historical fiction about the French Revolution! This was such a readable book. From the very first chapter I was pulled into the drama, the hate, and the desperation that was France at that time. The characters, both historical and fictional, were well-drawn, interesting, and easy to connect to. I have read several books on the same subject/time period and was worried that might affect my reading experience, but my fears were in vain. The writing really was so good! Clear, colorful, atmosp Great historical fiction about the French Revolution! This was such a readable book. From the very first chapter I was pulled into the drama, the hate, and the desperation that was France at that time. The characters, both historical and fictional, were well-drawn, interesting, and easy to connect to. I have read several books on the same subject/time period and was worried that might affect my reading experience, but my fears were in vain. The writing really was so good! Clear, colorful, atmospheric. You felt like you were there living through all the brutality and fear. You could almost smell the blood spilled by the guillotine. Strong women feature strongly here as well. My only complaint are some inconsistencies with the actual historical figures. I'm kind of a purist, I like everything to be as accurate as possible. But, this is a novel, and there are great notes at the end which cover what is true & false. (That is also important to me. Authors who take the time to let their readers know fact from fiction earn bonus points). I would recommend this book without hesitation to anyone looking for a fictional account of the French Revolution! **Many thanks to NetGalley, Dial Press, and Alison and Owen Pataki for an ARC to read and honestly review!**

  10. 4 out of 5

    Staci

    What I treasure most about historical fiction is when a novel is educational. Where the Light Falls delivers on this front in a large way. Through the pages of Where the Light Falls and two separate story lines, I visited Paris during the French Revolution. The novel spans from 1792 to 1798. I was drawn in during the initial pages as the story begins with a man headed to the guillotine. After that scene though my interest waned until around page 100. For the final 2/3rd of the novel, I was compl What I treasure most about historical fiction is when a novel is educational. Where the Light Falls delivers on this front in a large way. Through the pages of Where the Light Falls and two separate story lines, I visited Paris during the French Revolution. The novel spans from 1792 to 1798. I was drawn in during the initial pages as the story begins with a man headed to the guillotine. After that scene though my interest waned until around page 100. For the final 2/3rd of the novel, I was completely engaged in the story. I am thankful that I continued reading beyond the initial third because the novel was beautifully written and as I look back now on the initial 100 pages I can better appreciate the history and details that set up what was to come in the story. My previous favorite Allison Pataki novel was The Traitor's Wife. I have a new favorite in Where the Light Falls. I highly recommend the novel for fans of historical fiction. My gratitude to the authors for a complimentary copy of the novel.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jocelyn Green

    The amount of research the authors must have done for this novel is staggering. I think they did a very admirable job weaving the history and fictional characters and plotlines together. I especially appreciated that they showed both the positive ideals of the French Revolution as well as the chaos and butchery that came from it. In the author's note, they state that they hoped the novel could educate as well as entertain, and I'd say those aims were apparent with all the rich historical detail The amount of research the authors must have done for this novel is staggering. I think they did a very admirable job weaving the history and fictional characters and plotlines together. I especially appreciated that they showed both the positive ideals of the French Revolution as well as the chaos and butchery that came from it. In the author's note, they state that they hoped the novel could educate as well as entertain, and I'd say those aims were apparent with all the rich historical detail throughout the book. Readers who enjoy stories that are set deeply into their historical context will be pleased to find that in Where the Light Falls.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kristen McDermott

    This review appears in Historical Novels Review 81 (August 2017): Two idealistic young men’s fates entwine during the trial of General Christophe de Kellermann, a hero of the French Revolution. Jean-Luc St. Clair is the idealistic young lawyer tasked with Kellermann’s defense, and André de Valiere is the son of a guillotined nobleman who hopes to redeem himself with a distinguished military career; they are the focal characters in this earnest but flatly executed novel of life in Paris during the This review appears in Historical Novels Review 81 (August 2017): Two idealistic young men’s fates entwine during the trial of General Christophe de Kellermann, a hero of the French Revolution. Jean-Luc St. Clair is the idealistic young lawyer tasked with Kellermann’s defense, and André de Valiere is the son of a guillotined nobleman who hopes to redeem himself with a distinguished military career; they are the focal characters in this earnest but flatly executed novel of life in Paris during the Terror. Bestselling author Allison Pataki has teamed with her brother Owen, an Army veteran and filmmaker, for this project, which depends on characters too one-dimensional to support the ponderous weight of events in the story. Their mastery of the daily events of the Terror and of the military campaigns is evident, but they play fast and loose with some pretty significant events in the interest of creating “turning points” to imperil their characters. All this would be fine if the characters were compelling, but the authors rely on superficial description and stilted, “Americanized” dialogue. The two female characters are beautiful and loyal and not much else; they exist only to motivate Jean-Luc and André. The pace of the action picks up in the second half of the novel, but relies too heavily on coincidence, and the evil villains are of the cardboard variety.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Annette

    This book brings interesting historical facts skillfully woven into the story with vivid imagination of the chaotic French Revolution. However, the most interesting parts are short, leaving to wish more for such scenes. For example, a lawyer representing poor widow expelled from her property. This reveals not only a dramatic situation of the common people of that period, but also an ancient law of the Landlord Right. Instead the book is filled with stagnant scenes not moving the story forward or This book brings interesting historical facts skillfully woven into the story with vivid imagination of the chaotic French Revolution. However, the most interesting parts are short, leaving to wish more for such scenes. For example, a lawyer representing poor widow expelled from her property. This reveals not only a dramatic situation of the common people of that period, but also an ancient law of the Landlord Right. Instead the book is filled with stagnant scenes not moving the story forward or moving at snail pace. The story starts in 1792, when Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette are already imprisoned. Jean-Luc St Clair, a lawyer from the South of France, moves his family to Paris as he believes in freedom of common people. His noble cause puts his family, wife and baby, through poverty. His work deals with cataloguing property seized from the wealthy families. Andre Valiere and his brother Remy leave their privileged lives or the events force them to do so (not clear in this story) in order to join the unified French Army. Sophie, young aristocratic widow, lives with her controlling uncle – general in the army. Different events connect those people. They all fight for the same cause, but at the end they question the sacrifices they made for the revolution. @FB: Best Historical Fiction

  14. 5 out of 5

    Susan Peterson

    Where the Light Falls is compelling historical fiction; a sweeping saga which takes place during the French Revolution, from the battlefields to the courts of law to the modest homes of its citizens and even to the horrors of La Place de Revolution where the guillotine performed its ugly deeds. This story is centered around four protagonists; a young idealist lawyer and his wife, and a former nobleman turned soldier and the woman he loves. These four bring heart and emotions to this story as we Where the Light Falls is compelling historical fiction; a sweeping saga which takes place during the French Revolution, from the battlefields to the courts of law to the modest homes of its citizens and even to the horrors of La Place de Revolution where the guillotine performed its ugly deeds. This story is centered around four protagonists; a young idealist lawyer and his wife, and a former nobleman turned soldier and the woman he loves. These four bring heart and emotions to this story as we follow their journey during this turbulent time. The authors do a brilliant job of putting us in the scenes; readers will feel the fear, the pride, and the determination of all the participants. They have woven a tale that conveys the extremes of the times; good and evil, love and hate, hope and despair. This book is historical fiction at its best; bringing historical facts to life with human emotions. While I learned a lot about the French Revolution, I also cared deeply for the characters in this book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    The era of the French Revolution is not my normal choice for historical fiction, so this book definitely took me by surprise! Thank you to Andrea over at Great Thoughts, Great Readers and NetGalley for the pleasure of getting to read this advanced copy. The groundwork and research that went into this novel is fascinating and I absolutely loved reading something I haven't really read more of in the past. The characters are well written and the story develops and intertwines quite nicely throughou The era of the French Revolution is not my normal choice for historical fiction, so this book definitely took me by surprise! Thank you to Andrea over at Great Thoughts, Great Readers and NetGalley for the pleasure of getting to read this advanced copy. The groundwork and research that went into this novel is fascinating and I absolutely loved reading something I haven't really read more of in the past. The characters are well written and the story develops and intertwines quite nicely throughout the book. Where the Light Falls is a fantastic work of historical fiction in a book world where we see a lot of WWII novels. I highly recommend picking this one up.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    I was sadly disappointed with the book overall. It was slow, the characters were flat and the final "showdowns" were so over the top stupid they were rather unfulfilling after 380 pages. The book follows two characters during the French Revolution. One is an overly just and good lawyer in a sea of corrupt and evil ones. The other is an overly just and good solider in a sea of incompetent and/or evil generals. Both are desperate to keep their heads down so as to not face the guillotine. Both have I was sadly disappointed with the book overall. It was slow, the characters were flat and the final "showdowns" were so over the top stupid they were rather unfulfilling after 380 pages. The book follows two characters during the French Revolution. One is an overly just and good lawyer in a sea of corrupt and evil ones. The other is an overly just and good solider in a sea of incompetent and/or evil generals. Both are desperate to keep their heads down so as to not face the guillotine. Both have a lady by their side, the lawyer - his wife, the soldier - the one woman he cannot have. That is about the depth of their character development. The lawyer is supposed to inventory the estates of the newly imprisoned rich (for what purpose we have no idea) but instead keeps taking charity cases that pit him against the ruling lawyers of the day. He is astute, except for when it comes to his own wife (who is the one character they should have dived into more! Such a wasted golden opportunity), works far too much and yeah, isn't overly clever or intelligent, just good hearted and idealistic. The soldier has rejected his family's title and joined the army in hopes of not meeting the guillotine. He fights in several key battles at the time, which is used to introduce and incorporate real people from the period including Bonaparte. His father's name gets him out of some scrapes, but overall he's just this shy guy who is good at heart and really just doesn't want to lose his head. Both men are, through no fault of their own, antagonized by a nemesis hell bent on their destruction for reasons that, in the lawyer's case just don't make any sense, and for the soldier are just boring and cliche. (We also find out the entire reason the soldier is being hunted by his enemy in a poorly laid out info-dump by a very random character. The soldier does nothing to piece it together himself! Very unsatisfying for the reader, as this is one of the main questions throughout the entire story.) The book did an incredible joy providing a groundwork history of the French Revolution. It places the reader in the middle of this chaotic and unjust time in France where the ideas of liberty, equality, and fraternity are being shouted in the streets and then totally ignored as aristocrats, clergy, good men and women (and children) are beheaded for no other reason than their birth or daring to whisper against the corrupt, ever-changing leaders who use public opinion (aka mob mentality) to kill their rivals and instill fear towards anyone who dares question them. Pataki always does a great job in setting and her research is amazing, but it's in the interactions of her characters her books fail. The battle scenes were well written and pulled on your emotion. They did a great job at relaying the chaos and giving us real emotion from the soldiers involved (something I credit to Owen who served in Afghanistan). If you want to read a book to understand the background and day to day of the French Revolution, pick up this book. But don't read it for the characters and just be warned about the final showdowns, they really are quite an eye roll.

  17. 4 out of 5

    KOMET

    "WHERE THE LIGHT FALLS: A Novel of the French Revolution" very much lives up to its billing. Upon turning the page, the reader quickly finds him/herself in Paris during the winter of 1792. The deposed King and Queen of France are imprisoned, awaiting trial for treason. The city is in tumult as men with radical ideas and a penchant for dispensing violent, retributive 'justice' have taken control of the national government. Along the streets in a horseborne tumbril are several condemned persons be "WHERE THE LIGHT FALLS: A Novel of the French Revolution" very much lives up to its billing. Upon turning the page, the reader quickly finds him/herself in Paris during the winter of 1792. The deposed King and Queen of France are imprisoned, awaiting trial for treason. The city is in tumult as men with radical ideas and a penchant for dispensing violent, retributive 'justice' have taken control of the national government. Along the streets in a horseborne tumbril are several condemned persons being taken to the Place de la Revolution. Despite the bitter cold, thousands of people eagerly await the spectacle soon to take place before their very eyes. "They sound impatient, shrill with the heady prospect of fresh blood to wet the newly sharpened guillotine blade." The spectacle then takes shape as - one by one - each condemned person is prompted to walk up onto the stage where 'le guillotine' awaits. The condemned person's head is placed within the guillotine's clutches. The audience views the scene with bated breath and fevered anticipation. A blade forming the top part of the guillotine set above the condemned person's head is released and with a swish, swiftly severs the condemned person's head, sending it into a basket set close by. Charles Dickens could have taken some lessons from the 2 writers of this novel, in terms of conveying a real, tangible sense of the early stages of what came to be known as 'The Terror', the darkest period of the French Revolution. The novel then goes on to relate the stories of Jean-Luc St. Clair, a lawyer from Marseille who moved with his young family to Paris, where he works in an office handling claims involving deposed nobles; Andre Valiere, a young army officer of the ancien régime who has forsworn his noble heritage to join the Army of the French Republic; and Sophie de Vincennes, a young widow living under the close eye of a vindictive uncle who has powerful connections within the government. Her fate would later become entwined with Andre's. The reader is carried from the depths of The Terror to the steady rise of Napoleon Bonaparte, who first made a name for himself as a military commander without equal, leading French armies to resounding victories against the Austrians in Italy and later in Malta and Egypt. All the while, France is in turmoil with the demand for justice breeding more paranoia and instability. "Jean-Luc, Andre, and Sophie find themselves bound together in a world where survival seems increasingly less likely - for themselves..." This novel has all the hallmarks of a Class A thriller. It'll leave the reader breathless, a little dizzy, and glad to have read it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jean Kolinofsky

    I would like to thank NetGalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for a review. Set in Paris in the years after the revolution, Allison and Owen Pataki have written a story that reflects the chaos and terror of the time. Opening with the last days of aristocrat Alexandre de Valiere, they take you from his prison cell to La Place de la Revolution where the guillotine awaits. Andre Valiere, son of the doomed aristocrat, has renounced his title and lands and serves in the army, hoping t I would like to thank NetGalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for a review. Set in Paris in the years after the revolution, Allison and Owen Pataki have written a story that reflects the chaos and terror of the time. Opening with the last days of aristocrat Alexandre de Valiere, they take you from his prison cell to La Place de la Revolution where the guillotine awaits. Andre Valiere, son of the doomed aristocrat, has renounced his title and lands and serves in the army, hoping that this will save him from the same fate. After falling for the niece of an influential general who bears resentment toward him and his family, even his military service may not save him. Jean-Luc St Clair is a young lawyer from the south of France who has left his position in his father-in-law's firm to do his part for the new government in Paris. While his wife struggles with food shortages and caring for their young son, he is assigned to inventory the contents of estates seized from condemned nobles. Hoping to advance, he makes connections with a powerful lawyer. As his own influence grows, so do the dangers facing him and his family. This is a fascinating look at an important part of French history. Although there are small changes in the timeline of events, the narrative gives the reader the ability to experience these events and their effects on the people of France. From the war with the Prussians to the rise of Napoleon and his Battle of the Pyramids, it was a turbulent time that has been beautifully portrayed by the authors.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    I have to admit that my knowledge of French Revolution history is minimal. I tend to focus on WWI and WWII, but this story of the French Revolution was so engaging that I plan to go back and learn a bit more. The story takes place after the storming of the Bastille, many titled people have already gone to the guillotine and the new republic is trying to take hold. The story is really 2 stories ones, that of Andre, Army captain whose father was guillotined, but he has sworn his allegiance to the I have to admit that my knowledge of French Revolution history is minimal. I tend to focus on WWI and WWII, but this story of the French Revolution was so engaging that I plan to go back and learn a bit more. The story takes place after the storming of the Bastille, many titled people have already gone to the guillotine and the new republic is trying to take hold. The story is really 2 stories ones, that of Andre, Army captain whose father was guillotined, but he has sworn his allegiance to the new republic and his pursuit of love in an unsettled time and that of Jean-Luc, a young lawyer, husband, and, father working for the new republic, but trying to bring a sense of normalcy to the chaos of the revolution. The authors seamlessly weave historical people such as Robespierre and Louis and Antoinette into the story to lend authenticity. It's a sweeping story that give us a peek a tumultuous time in world history without being dull or dry in any way.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Two in a row - very well written and quite good book, with violence and brutality. This one is set in the French Revolution, and features both real life figures, and three likable characters that intertwine that you can really root for. Taking place during the Reign of Terror, thing Guillotines. There was a lot of lopping off of heads for virtually no reason, with no justice in sight. While it was historically accurate, it was scary and sad in places. Loved the story of the created characters an Two in a row - very well written and quite good book, with violence and brutality. This one is set in the French Revolution, and features both real life figures, and three likable characters that intertwine that you can really root for. Taking place during the Reign of Terror, thing Guillotines. There was a lot of lopping off of heads for virtually no reason, with no justice in sight. While it was historically accurate, it was scary and sad in places. Loved the story of the created characters and how that pulled it all together. 3.8 for the ride. Can I read something a little lighter now?

  21. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    4.5/5 I don't read a lot of books on the French Revolution but Les Miserables is one of my favorite musicals. So I wasn't sure what to expect picking this one up but I was pulled in immediately to the stories of Jean-Luc, Andre and Sophie. How they intertwined their stories was wonderful. What hell the Revolution must have been. It shows that those calling for one don't always really have the best interest of the people at the heart. I highly recommend this novel for all historical fiction fans, 4.5/5 I don't read a lot of books on the French Revolution but Les Miserables is one of my favorite musicals. So I wasn't sure what to expect picking this one up but I was pulled in immediately to the stories of Jean-Luc, Andre and Sophie. How they intertwined their stories was wonderful. What hell the Revolution must have been. It shows that those calling for one don't always really have the best interest of the people at the heart. I highly recommend this novel for all historical fiction fans, even if the French Revolution isn't your normal time period.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Cher

    2.5 stars - It was alright, an average book. Not painful, but also not very remarkable or memorable. The authors did do a good job of conveying the disorder and chaos that ensued at the start of the revolution, but otherwise it was a bit of a slog and overall a let down. ------------------------------------------- First Sentence: He hears them before he sees them, a swell of thousands, young and old, male and female, clamoring from the other side of the prison walls.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    I received (actually my wife did) this book through a Give-away on Good reads in exchange for an honest review. I originally rated this book a 4, but after a couple of weeks of thinking about this review, I upped it to a 5. I really enjoy Allison Pataki's writing style. For me it is very easy to read, and flows along smoothly. I enjoy the details of description, but they never become overbearing. That being said, I noticed a difference in the ebb and flow in certain sections of the book. For exam I received (actually my wife did) this book through a Give-away on Good reads in exchange for an honest review. I originally rated this book a 4, but after a couple of weeks of thinking about this review, I upped it to a 5. I really enjoy Allison Pataki's writing style. For me it is very easy to read, and flows along smoothly. I enjoy the details of description, but they never become overbearing. That being said, I noticed a difference in the ebb and flow in certain sections of the book. For example, the battle scene in Egypt. It seemed a little herky jerky, and left me thinking. Huh? How did he (Andre) do that. I have to assume those portions were more heavily written by Owen. Understand, the difference was not enough to change the overall perception of the book, just noticeable differences I never experienced while reading The Accidental Empress or The Traitors Wife. But, back to the book. The overall feel and historical overtones were excellent. It is evident the author immerses herself in the history and culture of the areas she is writing about. She seems to pick up the feel and vernacular, even the rhythm of speech regardless if the character is in Paris, Budapest, or New York. But again, back to this book, I found the characters to be very well developed and in some cases almost too real. There were those who were so hateful and evil that I wanted to skip that section because of what I thought they might do next. Then, there were characters that you could not help but like and think that I could really get along with them. I give the book a 5 star rating because of the realism of the characters, and the realism of the setting for this story. Yes, some of the story does not follow actual history, but for those who seem to pounce on that fact my advice is: Get over it! This is a novel, not a textbook! (and by the way, READ the authors notes!!!)

  24. 4 out of 5

    J.S. Dunn

    2.5 Same issues as with The Accidental Empress : shallow characterizations, neither daily life's details nor the large, critical events are filled in to ensconce the reader and enable understanding. The history here, other than a series of 'scenes' like shuffled cards, is incidental wallpaper and mere backdrop to the soap opera. This is historical fiction ultra-lite. 2.5 Same issues as with The Accidental Empress : shallow characterizations, neither daily life's details nor the large, critical events are filled in to ensconce the reader and enable understanding. The history here, other than a series of 'scenes' like shuffled cards, is incidental wallpaper and mere backdrop to the soap opera. This is historical fiction ultra-lite.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    Holy epic crap, Batman! I kept reading because I was intrigued and the number of five star reviews made me think I was missing something. Well, I was, plot, details, interesting explanations about what motivated the characters, the list goes on and on. It was so predictable and trite, that it is actually insulting. I am angry I wasted time on this one. Save yourselves!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Eve

    To think I was so excited to read this book... The premise is great--the French Revolution--but the story telling is lacking. I just couldn't bring myself to care about the characters, who were two-dimensional. The good guys are good and the bad guys are bad. I struggled to finish reading the book, skimming towards the end.

  27. 5 out of 5

    nikkia neil

    Thanks Random House Publishing Group - Random House and netgalley for this ARC. The Pataki's have succeeded in writing a fresh, unique, and stimulating novel about the revolution. I loved the personal stories all converging into a explosive finale.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    "The thing that Robespierre recognized," Merignac continued, ignoring Gavreau, "and that the fool of a king never did, is that anger is so much more potent than love. The Bourbon tried to appeal to people's better natures. He told them he loved them as a father loves his children. They don't want to hear that. They are hungry and enraged and they want someone to tell them that they are right to be so. ... Why not harness the power of the people and generate force from all of this splendid chaos. "The thing that Robespierre recognized," Merignac continued, ignoring Gavreau, "and that the fool of a king never did, is that anger is so much more potent than love. The Bourbon tried to appeal to people's better natures. He told them he loved them as a father loves his children. They don't want to hear that. They are hungry and enraged and they want someone to tell them that they are right to be so. ... Why not harness the power of the people and generate force from all of this splendid chaos." Allison and Owen Pataki, Where the Light Falls

  29. 5 out of 5

    Theresa

    In compliance with FTC guidelines -- I received this book from Goodreads Giveaways in exchange for an honest review. The content of this review is not influenced by that fact. The feelings expressed are solely mine. More accurate rating is 4.5 stars Fantastic historical novel! It did what I thought up until a few weeks ago was impossible -- made the French Revolution engaging and exciting! Ok , I suppose I should clarify my comment. I love historical fiction of all times periods and locations but In compliance with FTC guidelines -- I received this book from Goodreads Giveaways in exchange for an honest review. The content of this review is not influenced by that fact. The feelings expressed are solely mine. More accurate rating is 4.5 stars Fantastic historical novel! It did what I thought up until a few weeks ago was impossible -- made the French Revolution engaging and exciting! Ok , I suppose I should clarify my comment. I love historical fiction of all times periods and locations but I tend to pass on anything during this time frame. The reason being four L-O-N-G years of French language classes in school. The last year was mostly learning about French culture and history (in French of course) and after I graduated I promptly forgot everything I learned. We actually spent most of the time going over and over anything one could possibly want to know about the Louis'. We touched only briefly on the revolution, reign of terror, and the rise of Napoleon. Although I'll be honest and say my French history is still lacking I had zero trouble following this book. It was so well written that it did not even for a minute feel like I being taught a lesson but apparently I was because I learned so much. I also enjoyed the way Napoleon was treated. He was painted in a truer light than the British propaganda of the times (megolamaniac with little man syndrome). In this book Napoleon was accurately portrayed as a brilliant tactician and beloved by the people. Not only the character descriptions of famous people but also fictional characters in this story were really good! If I didn't know which were which I would have had no problem believing all were actual people. (The authors' notes do clarify for those who need help figuring it all out. Also there are notes there indicating the liberties with timeline the authors took in order to create a more engaging and flowing FICTIONAL story. Why do people get so worked up when an author does this? It's fiction people! If you want a play by play account read non-fiction. Better yet read both!) So why you may ask have I subtracted a half star? That is because there were a few scenes where there was a perceptible change in the flow and vernacular of the writing. I wonder if this was change between authors as this is a shared endeavor by siblings Allison and Owen Pataki. I am not saying either "voice" was weaker only obviously different. I wish the authors would have hammered out those fluctuations before release. Also-- and this is completely a personal preference for me-- the first few chapters seemed very battle heavy. A little too much for my taste in reading especially before I've become invested in characters and the overall story. So with those admittedly minor detractors I'm still calling this book a must read for anyone who enjoys intelligent historical fiction.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Katies_Faves

    Ummmm what just happened here?? While I understand that the authors felt it necessary to change history for their storyline and plot — at what point does it become less historical and more fiction. Fine- write a new book loosely based on real events. But once you start out with real people and real events in your novel you cross into different territory. This book was part historical novel, part daytime soap opera and a whole lotta fiction. I read this book with hopes of finding out more about the F Ummmm what just happened here?? While I understand that the authors felt it necessary to change history for their storyline and plot — at what point does it become less historical and more fiction. Fine- write a new book loosely based on real events. But once you start out with real people and real events in your novel you cross into different territory. This book was part historical novel, part daytime soap opera and a whole lotta fiction. I read this book with hopes of finding out more about the French Revolution. Instead Ive just read a book that changed dates and history around enough to irritate me greatly. i spent half my time looking up the real events and the real people to figure out the truth. Waste o time. Ugh! The whole fact that they killed Kellermann off, when in fact that never happened, is reckless. They had events happen at different times than it did in real life. It’s fake news at its finest. Because as we see from the glowing reviews— people think this all happened!!! Good grief. I’m embarrassed I recommended this to my book club. Smh.

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