City of Darkness, City of Light



City of Darkness, City of LightIn Her Most Splendid, Thought Provoking Novel Yet, Marge Piercy Brings To Vibrant Life Three Women Who Play Prominent Roles In The Tumultuous, Bloody French Revolution As Well As Their Famous Male Counterparts Defiantly Independent Claire Lacombe Tests Her Theory If Men Can Make Things Happen, Perhaps Women Can Too Manon Philipon Finds She Has A Talent For Politics Albeit As The Ghostwriter Of Her Husband S Speeches And Pauline L On Knows One Thing For Certain The Women Must Apply The Pressure Or Their Male Colleagues Will Let Them Starve While Illuminating The Lives Of Robespierre, Danton, And Condorcet, Piercy Also Opens To Us The Minds And Hearts Of Women Who Change Their World, Live Their Ideals And Are Prepared To Die For Them

Marge Piercy born March 31, 1936 is an American poet, novelist, and social activist She is the author of the New York Times bestseller Gone to Soldiers, a sweeping historical novel set during World War II.Piercy was born in Detroit, Michigan, to a family deeply affected by the Great Depression She was the first in her family to attend college, studying at the University of Michigan Winning a Hopwood Award for Poetry and Fiction 1957 enabled her to finish college and spend some time in France, and her formal schooling ended with an M.A from Northwestern University Her first book of poems, Breaking Camp, was published in 1968.An indifferent student in her early years, Piercy developed a love of books when she came down with rheumatic fever in her mid childhood and could do little but read It taught me that there s a different world there, that there were all these horizons that were quite different from what I could see, she said in a 1984 interview.As of 2013, she is author of seventeen volumes of poems, among them The Moon is Always Female 1980, considered a feminist classic and The Art of Blessing the Day 1999 , as well as fifteen novels, one play The Last White Class, co authored with her third and current husband Ira Wood , one collection of essays Parti colored Blocks for a Quilt , one non fiction book, and one memoir.Her novels and poetry often focus on feminist or social concerns, although her settings vary While Body of Glass published in the US as He, She and It is a science fiction novel that won the Arthur C Clarke Award, City of Darkness, City of Light is set during the French Revolution Other of her novels, such as Summer People and The Longings of Women are set during the modern day All of her books share a focus on women s lives.Woman on the Edge of Time 1976 mixes a time travel story with issues of social justice, feminism, and the treatment of the mentally ill This novel is considered a classic of utopian speculative science fiction as well as a feminist classic William Gibson has credited Woman on the Edge of Time as the birthplace of Cyberpunk Piercy tells this in an introduction to Body of Glass Body of Glass He, She and It 1991 postulates an environmentally ruined world dominated by sprawling mega cities and a futuristic version of the Internet, through which Piercy weaves elements of Jewish mysticism and the legend of the Golem, although a key story element is the main character s attempts to regain custody of her young son.Many of Piercy s novels tell their stories from the viewpoints of multiple characters, often including a first person voice among numerous third person narratives Her World War II historical novel, Gone To Soldiers 1987 follows the lives of nine major characters in the United States, Europe and Asia The first person account in Gone To Soldiers is the diary of French teenager Jacqueline Levy Monot, who is also followed in a third person account after her capture by the Nazis.Piercy s poetry tends to be highly personal free verse and often addresses the same concern with feminist and social issues Her work shows commitment to the dream of social change what she might call, in Judaic terms, tikkun olam, or the repair of the world , rooted in story, the wheel of the Jewish year, and a range of landscapes and settings.She lives in Wellfleet on Cape Cod, Massachusetts with her husband, Ira Wood from Wikipedia

[Reading] ➰ City of Darkness, City of Light ➸ Marge Piercy – Heartforum.co.uk
  • Paperback
  • 479 pages
  • City of Darkness, City of Light
  • Marge Piercy
  • English
  • 10 April 2019
  • 0449912752

10 thoughts on “City of Darkness, City of Light

  1. Kim says:

    My friend Jemidar and I decided to read this book together because after finishing Hilary Mantel s wonderful A Place of Greater Safety, we missed its chief protagonists, that is, Camille Desmoulins, Georges Jacques Danton and Maximilien Robespierre, and we wanted to further immerse ourselves in the events of the French Revolution The novel tells the stories of Danton and Robespierre, along with those of three other players in the Revolution actress Claire Lacombe and chocolate maker Pauline L My friend Jemidar and I decided to read this book together because after finishing Hilary Mantel s wonderful A Place of Greater Safety, we missed its chief protagonists, that is, Camille Desmoulins, Georges Jacques Danton and Maximilien Robespierre, and we wanted to further immerse ourselves in the events of the French Revolution The novel tells the stories of Danton and Robespierre, along with those of three other players in the Revolution actress Claire Lacombe and chocolate maker Pauline L on who between them founded and led the influential Society of Revolutionary Women , middle class political activist Manon Roland and mathematician, philosopher and politician Nicolas Condorcet Piercy explores events from 1789 to 1794 chapters which alternate the point of view of the six main characters At first, reading the novel seemed like less than a good idea Piercy s style is very different from that of Mantel The narrative is much less dialogue driven than that of A Place of Greater Safety and much heavier on exposition While a reader wanting to be told the facts may consider that an advantage, I missed the feeling that I was seeing events through the character s eyes and thinking their thoughts Instead, I was often being told things by the author rather than shown things by the characters However, as I continued to read, that aspect of the novel bothered me less and I was soon thoroughly engaged with the characters and the events through which they lived This was another fascinating excursion into the events of the French Revolution, something about which I previously had only the sketchiest of knowledge Overall, I prefer A Place of Greater Safety, largely because I prefer Mantel s style, but also because I was disappointed that Piercy ended the novel with a speculative flight of fancy But it s a close run thing Piercy brings her characters to life and tells an interesting story in an engaging and accessible way In addition, through the inclusion of Claire Lacombe and Pauline L on as characters, Piercy provides a female and working class sans culottes perspective which is missing from A Place of Greater Safety As far as ratings go, it s hovering at around the 4 1 2 star mark Camille Demoulins, who is such a strong presence in Mantel s novel, is aminor character in this one

  2. Debbie Zapata says:

    I generally adore Marge Piercy s books, but this one beat me to a pulp It is an ambitious tale about the French Revolution, and has six major real life characters My problem here is that each chapter is told from a different character s viewpoint For the first six chapters this is fine we are introduced to each person, get to know them and their backgrounds a little bit, then we go rushing off to the next person But after those first six chapters, the alternation becomes annoying The chapt I generally adore Marge Piercy s books, but this one beat me to a pulp It is an ambitious tale about the French Revolution, and has six major real life characters My problem here is that each chapter is told from a different character s viewpoint For the first six chapters this is fine we are introduced to each person, get to know them and their backgrounds a little bit, then we go rushing off to the next person But after those first six chapters, the alternation becomes annoying The chapters are short and just as I would get back into one person s story, boom it was over and I was trying to remember who this next character was I was forewarned of this by a page in the front of the book where the only message is the following To The Reader If at any point you find yourself confused about who a character is, please consult the chart at the book s end.I peeked at that chart when I saw that message All nine pages of it Sigh.I was fascinated by some of the details Piercy included about life in France during those days, and by her idea in 1996 that America was in a very similar situation But I never could lose myself in the book it was very easy to put down and it became harder and harder to pick up as I went along.This evening I finally decided I am not going to keep fighting this one I might hang onto it and try it again at some point in the future, then again I might just give it away and let someone else wrestle with it.DNF at about page 150 of 479

  3. Christine says:

    Disclaimer ARC via Netgalley Perhaps the most common thing every nation in the world shares is its ability to leave people behind when progressive change occurs Abigail Adams reminded her husband to not forget women when America was being founded, and of course, he did Women helped in World War I and they still didn t even have the vote There are still debates about whether African American women should put men s rights before all rights In fact, that is not doubt true for any minority cult Disclaimer ARC via Netgalley Perhaps the most common thing every nation in the world shares is its ability to leave people behind when progressive change occurs Abigail Adams reminded her husband to not forget women when America was being founded, and of course, he did Women helped in World War I and they still didn t even have the vote There are still debates about whether African American women should put men s rights before all rights In fact, that is not doubt true for any minority culture or ethnicity in any country So it is should be of no surprise that the French Revolution, which included the famous picture of a bare breasted victory and let s really think about why she is always half nude , neglected the women who were a large part of that revolution Piercy s book chronicles the lives of Paris citizens as they struggle in the days leading up to the Revolution and the days after it While the majority of the characters she follows are women, there arethan a few men The book is a rather cynical and somewhat hopeful look at revolution and change Piercy s book is worth reading because she covers all walks of life There is Pauline, a young woman in Paris who has her own small business, a chocolate shop This isn t Chocolat, so the emphasis isn t on the wonderful food and treats that she produces It is on the politics and how Pauline gets caught up in Is Revolutionary Paris, revolutionary enough And that really is the question Most often grand sweeping historical novels that are suppose to focus on the little person, really do not They might start out that way, but plot and readership interest, always cause said little person to become part of a coterie of upper echelons It is to Piercy s credit that while some of her characters cross over, not all of them do In many ways, it makes her historical fiction farbelievable and compelling While she does focus on the movers and shakers to a degree both Danton and Robespierre have a role or two the focus is kept on the smaller players The everyday people that many readers of such books would have been It really does feel like the stews of Paris at some points

  4. Jemidar says:

    Well written and very well researched novel about the French Revolution which refreshingly included a couple of characters who are not amoung the usual suspects when reading about the revolution Besides the well known Danton and Robespeirre and the slightly lesser known Manon Roland and Nicolas Condorcet, we also follow Claire Lacombe and Pauline Leon who founded the first all women s political organisation the Revolutionary Republican Women so there s a nice mix of point of views from men an Well written and very well researched novel about the French Revolution which refreshingly included a couple of characters who are not amoung the usual suspects when reading about the revolution Besides the well known Danton and Robespeirre and the slightly lesser known Manon Roland and Nicolas Condorcet, we also follow Claire Lacombe and Pauline Leon who founded the first all women s political organisation the Revolutionary Republican Women so there s a nice mix of point of views from men and women, moderates and radicals, petty nobles, educated middle class and city poor.I have wavered between giving this 4 or 5 stars for a couple of days but finally plumped for 4 as the book did have a couple of weaknesses including a slow start took about 50 pages to get going but once it did it was very hard to put down , some minor but jarring use of modern language and an ending that felt a little tacked on and not entirely in keeping with the rest of the story However, none of this was enough to seriously annoy and it was an otherwise great read This is a wonderfully detailed novel if you want to learnabout the French Revolution in an enjoyable way and while my favourite French Revolution novel is still Hilary Mantel s A Place of Greater Safety this one comes in a pretty close second.Thanks to my GR friend Kim for suggesting this book for our buddy read and French Revolution binge as otherwise I might never have read it

  5. Geneva says:

    I started this book, read 25 chapters, then stopped Then, four days ago, I picked it up again and finished the last 60 chapters Still, I really did enjoy this book because it put some prominent people of the French Revolution in a closer perspective History puts many people, such as Danton and Robespierre, in a very dark light and we get a very dark point of view in history However, with this novel, we re able to glimpse a small part of humanity in these people why they began the revolutio I started this book, read 25 chapters, then stopped Then, four days ago, I picked it up again and finished the last 60 chapters Still, I really did enjoy this book because it put some prominent people of the French Revolution in a closer perspective History puts many people, such as Danton and Robespierre, in a very dark light and we get a very dark point of view in history However, with this novel, we re able to glimpse a small part of humanity in these people why they began the revolution, and what they hoped for in this revolution The French Revolution was at a very dark time, and it showed some of the lowest depths to where humanity can go Moreover, this novel records what happened from many interesting facets, and it explains their dark characterizations and beliefs, yet at the same time, it shows their humanity I loved how the author is able to balance these characters psychological profiles and emotions even though they re from various walks of life characters like Claire, an actress Danton Robespierre, both struggling lawyers Pauline, a chocolati re Manon, a clandestinely politically active minister s wife who aspires to be the model of Rousseau s ideal woman and French philosopher and mathematician Nicolas Marquis de Condorcet It was a wonderful book, and I would highly recommend it to anyone that wants to learn about the French Revolution it is a great introduction to its important events and its people

  6. Anna says:

    To be honest, I was initially certain that this novel couldn t equal the incandescently brilliant A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel This put it at rather a disadvantage, but nonetheless I ended up enjoying it nearly as much as Mantel s masterpiece Piercy uses six different points of view to show how the French Revolution unfolded, of which three are women This is where the two novels differed most importantly, in my view In A Place of Greater Safely I felt very close to Robespie To be honest, I was initially certain that this novel couldn t equal the incandescently brilliant A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel This put it at rather a disadvantage, but nonetheless I ended up enjoying it nearly as much as Mantel s masterpiece Piercy uses six different points of view to show how the French Revolution unfolded, of which three are women This is where the two novels differed most importantly, in my view In A Place of Greater Safely I felt very close to Robespierre, Danton, and Camille Desmoulins the latter was particularly sensitively portrayed In City of Darkness, City of Light I felt closer to the three women, Manon Roland, Pauline L on, and Claire Lacombe Their narratives were beautifully done and truly moving I ve previously read a non fiction account of key women during the revolution, Liberty by Lucy Moore, but found that much less engaging I should mention that A Place of Greater Safety does give time to Th roigne de M ricourt, another fascinating revolutionary woman In my mind, the latter of half of this novel really emerged from the shadow of Mantel s book which was written some years later Piercy s writing style doesn t have the same utterly immersive quality as Mantel s, but neither dothan a handful of other novelists Mantel is such a fantastic writer that practically anyone else suffers by comparison City of Darkness, City of Light is nonetheless compelling, very well paced, and deeply sympathetic The whirlwind of change unleashed by the revolution is beautifully conveyed There are Americanisms to be found here and there in the text Piercy explains her rationale for this the introductory Author s Note I found them a little disconcerting at first, but they in no way detracted from my overall enjoyment of this novel And it was deeply enjoyable, with a wonderful sense of momentum and feeling Moreover, rarely amongst novels and non fiction about the French Revolution, it did not end with Robespierre s death The final chapters, in which the surviving characters made a life amid the chaos of the Directory and the ascension of Napoleon, were particular favourites of mine They allowed the characters to reflect on the changes of the revolution, without a sense of artificially astute historical perspective I definitely wouldn t read this novel instead of A Place of Greater Safety , if some cruel torturer forced me to only read one French Revolution novel ever again, but both are brilliant City of Darkness, City of Light brings the period vividly to life, especially the lives of radical women at the time I highly recommend it

  7. Natalie says:

    This book was very well written, but the first half dragged for me In the beginning, I struggled to keep the characters and their backgrounds straight I put the book down for about a month, and when I had a littletime, to read, I picked it up again The second half went muchquickly The author did a fantastic job of fictionalizing some of the French Revolution simportant players.

  8. Marisa says:

    brilliant read it 3 times

  9. Simon says:

    I enjoyed this and it certainly makes the events of the French Revolution palpable I did not love it, however, because the writing seemed to eschew any sense of interpersonal drama and incident.

  10. J C says:

    I found this a real page turner, although with 595 pages you do need a bit of space in which to delve into it I was travelling ten hours by ferry so I was able to indulge myself Not that the subject matter is easy the French Revolution but being a coward at heart I have always admired people who are willing to give up family, home, safety and comfort for an ideal This book takes you through a fictionalised account of six real life people whose influence and actions formed and shaped the I found this a real page turner, although with 595 pages you do need a bit of space in which to delve into it I was travelling ten hours by ferry so I was able to indulge myself Not that the subject matter is easy the French Revolution but being a coward at heart I have always admired people who are willing to give up family, home, safety and comfort for an ideal This book takes you through a fictionalised account of six real life people whose influence and actions formed and shaped the Revolution of 1789 It is meticulously researched, and is a lively and imaginative narrative of the circumstances that led to revolution and the chain of events that ensued In a vivid account of the turbulence and horror that resulted from the pursuit of libert , galit , fraternit , the author recreates the lives of these six characters and make us a present of their zeal, their passions, and their acquiescence in a supreme, if terrible, moment of human progress.There are three men and three women The men are Robespierre, Danton, and someone I d never heard of before, Nicolas Marquis de Condorcet, a liberal intellectual whose Esquisse d un tableau historique des progr s de l esprit humain Sketch of the Intellectual Progress of Mankind , as this author translates it I must now read Here is the young Nicolas He did his work, he attended his meetings, and he dreamed of change that never seemed to come In Versailles the Queen gambled away fortunes while hundreds of courtiers danced the Quadrille and dressed in everoutlandish styles until they resembled mechanical insects of gold In the liberal salons of Paris, men and women discussed America, where reason and liberty were exalted, where people spoke plainly, dressed simply and fought to the death for something new and fine, a republic The women are Manon Roland, a writer and shaper of the revolution, albeit through her husband s name and office, and through her salon Claire Lacombe, an actress who became a revolutionary and Pauline L on, a chocolate maker who with Claire Lacombe led the working women of Paris to arms The hardships of the lives of the poor of France are described in graphic detail, particularly the brutal repression that passed for a judicial system under the Ancien R gime, in the context of which the guillotine is viewed as merciful Yet the Ideal, the Revolution, turns on itself until it resembles the wheel on which peasants were broken under the old r gime only now it is the instigators themselves who are spiralled into a wheel of death, as betrayal follows upon betrayal As one of the women remarks, they started, not achieved, the Revolution.The structure of the book is a series of eighty five very short chapters, each dealing in turn with one of the six characters, as the revolution marches on This makes it a lot easier to read if you only have a few minutes at a time The style bowls you along, but I thought there was an overuse of modern American idiom that to me sat oddly with the context I realise that this could just be that I m used to reading British English, but I struggled with people in the eighteenth century talking about guys and kids in a non idiomatic context it jolted me out of any suspension of disbelief There was also a fair sprinkling of what is still considered a swear word in British English, to describe the marital relations of the characters It s a graphic novel, so some graphic language is necessary It s a good read, if not great literature There s a strong feminist thread throughout the novel that plays out in the fate of the three women, one of whom hides dutifully behind her husband while the other two pursue independence of thought and action against all the odds The Revolutionary Republican Women inspire fear in the men, seen by them as wild and dangerous so it comes as no surprise that in history the counter revolution brings before anything else their suppression, their power increasingly restricted to that of the courtesan, as the monarchy is restored, followed by Empire Despite the unshrinking recounting of revolutionary horrors, it is the attitudes of men to women, and the courage of the women in this novel that emerge as the personal driving force of the author My edition tells me that Marge Piercy has been active in the women s movement and in political movements, and has lived in Paris And I can read about Paris till the cows come home

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