Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The First Apostle by Katherine Pym

Camille Desmoulins, a pamphleteer and journalist, and a man devoted to his wife, Lucile, harbors a malevolent secret. His quill carries poisoned ink. He writes with misdirected passion that leads to the destruction of lives who come in contact with his writings. Impetuous, and filled with satirical wit, Camille runs in the same circles as Robespierre and Danton, but it is not until 1793 that he finally tires of the Terror and pleads for clemency. But will clemency save him and his loved ones from a terrible fate?

The guillotine on the front cover of this novel stands as an ominous reminder of one of the darkest periods of European history – The French Revolution. This novel is particularly interesting because it is told in the vantage point of view of the poor and the revolutionaries instead of the nobles whose lives were at constant risk – an interesting change. At the heart of the story is Camille, a writer and revolutionary, and close friend to Robespierre and other influential political figures of the time. This fascinating character is bold, often outrageous, a risk taker that had me shaking my head at his bold bravado. His written word on the political climate stirs carries might and stirs up public sentiment. He gains fame and notoriety, but his writing often leads to lost lives in the terror. As his actions return to haunt him, he must come to terms with his actions.

Author Katherine Pym has written an intensely gripping novel of a time of true terror, where victims were sentenced to death on the whim of an incomplete and incompetent judicial system. She does not sugar-coat the realities of that terrible time and gives us insight as to the true terror and implications of all those who suffered. Starvation, poverty, greed, power-lust, betrayal, and a good love story garnish the pages of this very poignant novel. One cannot help but be moved. It is an excellent example of historical fiction at its best.