Author: Helen Dunmore
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Helen Dunmore has written a wonderful literary novel set in London during the French Revolution. Well developed characters and a unique perspective kept my interest; even though the plot doesn't show up in the first half of the book.
The first 200 pages are a character study led by our lead gal, Lizzie, and her view of the world. There is virtually no plot at all during this portion of the novel. Instead we learn of Lizzie's marriage, family, class and more.
I found it very interesting to have our leading lady caught between the ideologies of her family and those of her husband. With a mother that writes pamphlets and prose in support of the Revolution and eventual take down of the French King, it's understandable that Lizzie has a very independent view on politics. However her husband does not necessarily agree. As a true capitalist in a class society it becomes difficult for Lizzie's husband to accept that the Revolution is a good thing as it hurts his investments. We are lead to see Lizzie's unique thoughts and both perspectives on the French Revolution, even if from a safe (non-bloody) distance in London.
It takes about 200 pages for Birdcage Walk to have some real plot. Once we get into the real story, and not just the characters and their setting, we are then treated to a fast paced mystery that Lizzie is caught in. I enjoyed the overall writing style and setting much better than the plot. I was more intrigued by Lizzie as a character than anything else. If Lizzie had been a boring, stuffy Londoner I would not have enjoyed this near as much.
Those who love historical fiction and character studies will likely enjoy this novel. If you're hoping for a book with intrigue and mystery then I recommend you pass; otherwise the first half of Birdcage Walk will possibly suck the life out of your reading enjoyment.
This was my first Dunmore novel and I'll certainly look to read more by her.
Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.