The Revolution of Sabine
Sabine Durand, an aristocratic sixteen-year-old living in 18th-century Paris, is growing weary of her mother’s fixation on society and entertaining. Obsessed with finding a rich husband for Sabine, Madame Durand doesn’t bother to consider her daughter’s opinions on the matter. Even Sabine’s best friend Elodie seems to be pushing her toward a self-absorbed and possibly abusive man simply because he is from a prominent, wealthy family. Feeling trapped, Sabine finds escape through reading Voltaire and spending time with her childhood friend, Michel. Michel is not of her class, but has extraordinary ideas about equality and freedom—ideas that captivate Sabine. He takes her to a salon, where she meets Benjamin Franklin and hears talk of revolution. When Michel decides to join the Marquis de LaFayette in fighting to free Americans from British tyranny, Sabine must decide how much she is prepared to risk in order to claim her own personal freedom.
The strengths of this novel are its clear language and brisk pace. The narrative is well structured and unfettered by confusing subplots. Unfortunately the story itself is unoriginal and the 3rd person point-of-view voice seems flat and detached. We are constantly told rather than shown how the heroine feels, and the author relies too much on backstory for character development, which detracts from the immediacy of Sabine’s story. Though this is classified as a young adult novel, it seems better suited to the 8-12 age range. Younger readers might be more likely to find the story fresh and romantic.