Monday, May 24, 2010

For the King

Summer will soon be upon us. Long summer afternoons of sitting on the porch, in the park or on the beach are when I have traditionally caught up on my reading. There are few things I enjoy more than getting lost in a really good book. For those who enjoy such pursuits, a book I cannot recommend highly enough for getting lost in is Catherine Delors' new novel For the King. A soul-stirring epic, replete with authentic detail, For the King sets a new standard of excellence for historical fiction. Madame Delors has raised the bar. The flow of vivid descriptions and lively characterizations seamlessly spring forth. Opening with an act of terrorism that resembles the atrocities of our own time, the novel inspires horror without indulging in the grotesque. Similarly, the intimate encounter between the hero and his lady is intensely passionate without being voyeuristic. The writing combines power with beauty and realism with genuine pathos in order to capture the essence of an era of upheaval.

To quote from the book's website:
The Reign of Terror has ended six years earlier, and Napoléon Bonaparte has seized power, but shifting political loyalties still tear apart families and lovers. On Christmas Eve 1800, a bomb explores along Bonaparte’s route, narrowly missing him but striking dozens of bystanders. Chief Inspector Roch Miquel, a young policeman with a bright future and a beautiful mistress, must arrest the assassins before they attack again. Complicating Miquel’s investigation are the maneuverings of his superior, the redoubtable Fouché, the indiscretions of his own father, a former Jacobin, and two intriguing women. For The King takes readers through the dark alleys and glittering salons of post-revolutionary Paris. It is a romantic thriller, a tale of love, betrayal and redemption. 
 Caught in a searing love affair with a lady who has much to hide, Roch Miquel has to learn the difference between love which endures and love which is mere escapism. As the reader accompanies Roch through the streets of post-Revolutionary Paris, with its colorful mix of sights and smells, both delicious and repulsive and everything in between, the city gradually surrenders its secrets. For as Roch seeks to unravel the plot to assassinate Napoleon, the mystery of his own life is slowly revealed. Roch is an appealing character, with a sense of honor and duty that come from his peasant Auvergnat upbringing, as well as the shrewdness to see behind the many façades of his world. Nevertheless, much remains hidden to him, such as the identity of the royalist agent with the code name of  "For the King."

One of the most striking aspects of the book is the study of how devout, conservative people too often prove to be their own worst enemies. By descending to terrorism in order to murder Napoleon, the royalists not only destroy lives but bring shame upon their cause. While the royalist cause is not unsympathetic to me (I write all about it in Madame Royale) it is easy to become disgusted with the royalist plotters, who demonstrate yet another example of Catholics Behaving Badly. Redemption, however, is offered to all who open their hearts to truth and to personal conversion, one among many subtle threads in Madame Delors' political thriller.

For the King will be officially released in July; Amazon is accepting pre-orders.

*Note: I will be interviewing Catherine Delors when the book is released, so stay tuned.

** This review is based upon a review copy of For the King sent to me by the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. Share


Gareth Russell said...

A fantastic review and I plan to get a copy of it for my summer holidays. Where, of course, even more excitingly, "Trianon" will be waiting for me! A brilliant assessment of French early 19th century royalism too - I completely agree.

elena maria vidal said...

Thank you, Gareth. TRIANON will indeed be waiting for you~ it was shipped last week!

Catherine Delors said...

Indeed religion, love and politics are complex matters. You are quite right to evoke the theme of redemption, the final note of the novel.
So many thanks for this endorsement, Elena!

elena maria vidal said...

Many thanks to YOU, dear Catherine, and it is an honor to have endorsed such a magnificent novel!

BurtonBookReview said...

I really enjoyed this novel very much, and loved the mystery theme as well. A great read!

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, indeed, Marie. Catherine's training as a lawyer combines with her superb writing ability to make a thrilling story.

May said...

I can see I will have to read Madame Delors' novels, as well as your latest one, of course:-)

elena maria vidal said...

You'll love it, Matterhorn!