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Editorial Reviews

From Brooklyn to Paris and from the 18th-century to the 21st, Jennifer Donnelly’s Revolution covers a vast spread of geography, culture, and time. Emily Janice Card does the heavy lifting in her narration of Andi Alpers, a Brooklyn prep school misfit and gifted musician with enough life experience for someone three times her age. Card delivers Andi’s heartbreak and depression with remarkable awareness, her intonation constantly evolving and adapting to the development of the character. When Andi finds a mysterious archaic diary while accompanying her father on a trip to Paris, narrator Emma Bering voices a smaller but vital role as Alexandrine, a French actress living in Versaille as a companion to Louis Charles, son of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, in Revolution-era France. Card and Bering’s collaboration yields a stunning performance of an alliance between two women separated by three centuries. Revolution will charm Francophiles, historians, and musicians alike.

Following the tragic death of her younger brother and the divorce of her mother and father, Andi spirals into a severe depression. Arguably the most stable in this arrangement, her father, an award-winning genetics professor at Harvard, takes notice when he discovers that Andi is in danger of failing out of high school. He insists that she join him on a business trip to Paris to focus on writing her senior thesis and her mental wellness. Initially reluctant to leave her mother behind, Andi soon finds a reason to explore Paris — the diary written by Alexandrine detailing the final days of the French monarchy and the Reign of Terror.

The entanglement of Andi and Alexandrine’s storylines as Andi becomes engrossed in the diary offers a fascinating glimpse into both contemporary and 18th-century Paris. Donnelly’s striking construction of these two worlds is accompanied by Andi’s acute perception and passion for music of all eras. From Beethoven to Radiohead, music plays a central role in Andi’s emotional recovery and journey throughout Revolution. Card inhabits the music’s supporting role ardently. —Suzanne Day

Publisher's Summary

Andi Alpers is on the edge. She’s angry at her father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and heartbroken by the loss of her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And she’s about to be expelled from Brooklyn Heights’ most prestigious private school when her father intervenes. Now Andi must accompany him to Paris for winter break.

Alexandrine Paradis lived over two centuries ago. She dreamed of making her mark on the Paris stage, but a fateful encounter with a doomed prince of France cast her in a tragic role she didn’t want - and couldn’t escape.

Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine’s diary, she recognizes something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession. There’s comfort and distraction for Andi in the journal’s antique pages - until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, Alexandrine’s words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present.

Jennifer Donnelly, author of the award-winning novel A Northern Light, artfully weaves two girls’ stories into one unforgettable account of life, loss, and enduring love. Revolution spans centuries and vividly depicts the eternal struggles of the human heart.

©2010 Jennifer Donnelly (P)2010 Listening Library

Critic Reviews

"Revolution is a sumptuous feast of a novel, rich in mood, character, and emotion. With multiple hooks, it should appeal to a wide range of readers." (School Library Journal)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall

Great for any age

I am a 55 year old father, as far away from the "youth adult / female" classification of this book as one can get. I generally listen to historical fiction and took a chance on this because of another adult review in Amazon recommnding it. It was one of the best audiobooks I have purchased ( over 400 and counting). It had everthing I ask for in historical fiction - characters to move the plot along, real history mixed with the story, and good enough writing to cause me to research the period ( the French Revolution) on my own. I have 2 quibbles. One, the character from the past is read by an adult ( Emma Bering), who sounds like an adult, and I had to continually ignore that - they should have used a teenage narrator as they did with the girl from the present (Emily Card), as that is the obvious intent - teenager to teenager. Second - SPOILER ALERT - the time travel thing at the end of the book, though entertaining, felt manufactured and unnecessary, a perplexing break the straight narrative that had been used to that point,
Other than that - wonderful. I recommend it for any age

28 of 28 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


I've bought probably more than a hundred audiobooks but not many of them is as good as Revolution. Both of the narrators are awsome. I don't want to make this too long but all I wanted to say is that this book touched my life and I'm sure it can touch yours too.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Julie
  • Berkeley, CA, United States
  • 11-19-10

Excellent Engaging Fiction for All Ages

I'm another middle-aged reader who enjoys reading young adult fiction. In fact,
I actually aspire to write some someday. Jennifer Donnelly has given me alot to look up to in this novel. It's a layered, thought-provoking story with characters I hated to leave behind after three days of frantic listening. Without being heavy-handed, the author highlights parallels between different eras and different kinds of revolution. Even if readers don't think that they are interested in history, they'll still be likely to be drawn in by Andi's story.

The time-travel plot-device was deftly handled, and it actually only occurs in the last third of
the book, after it's been well set up. And by
then I would have gone anywhere the author
chose to take me, time-travel or not!

I also can't praise Emily Card's amazing
narration enough. She does a tremendous job
of "being" Andi. Her performance is moving,
funny, and unpretentious. She is also so good
at voices that I think she could have handled
reading Alex as well. Emma Bering's Alex is

initially less engaging, and hearing her mature
voice speak the words of a 17-year-old does
take some getting used to, as other reviewers
have said. However, Alex does speak with a
different vocabulary that's meant to evoke
another time, an era where some young people
were likely to sound more mature than their
age, at least to our modern ears. So, Ms. Bering and her main character are not that
badly matched, and she does a fine job with
the many other voices in Alex's world. But
Card's award-worthy reading, and the great
story, are what make Revolution more than
worth my credit--and what made me write my
first review.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Story
  • Arwen
  • BOISE, ID, United States
  • 11-21-10

Gold Standard

The reviewer who summed it up as perfection pretty much scoops my review of this story, but for my unabridged opinion, please continue.. this is one of those rare books that not only is an engaging, entertaining story deftly written (with an intelligent, wry sprinkling of humor) by Ms. Donnelly, but makes an engrossing listen as an audiobook. The narrator(s) do a great job, and bring so much life and "animation" to the characters..without being over the top. Both of them pretty much nail the personalities and essence of Andi and Alex spot on, and even the more "minor" characters are engaging. This is a wonderful story that takes you so much farther and in such a different direction than it might sound like in the beginning, even though the beginning is enough to pique one's interest. (Sampling the excerpt made me want to continue on with the story..) It is a masterful blending together of different elements such as music, history, family relationships, travel, first love, overcoming grief, and a young woman's finding love and her "path" in life. This woven tapestry of a story is deftly written by the author, and if, as a human, you are touched by any of the aforementioned elements, you don't want to miss this story. Enjoy!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Marianna
  • Albion, IN, United States
  • 01-08-11

Amazing! So sad I've finished it.

I'm a high school librarian and I've already started book talking this book to students and teachers. The title Revolution refers to the French Revolution and it is a wonderful combination of contemporary fiction, historical fiction, and mystery with a touch of romance thrown in. I think this one will appeal to both boys and girls. Musical references are woven into the story and now I feel compelled to visit itunes to check out the composers the main character loves.

I'm currently searching madly for another title that might fill that void I always feel when I've finished a really wonderful title. This is the best book I've read since finishing Life of Pi! Thank you so much Jennifer Donnelly.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Multiple Stories in One/Great Narration

There are multiple stories going on which is really interesting. It took a while before I could really get into the story so you may have to hang in there knowing it will be worth it in the end. You also have to be in the right mind set when you are listening to it. It is not a light read/listen. I tend to listen to audiobooks while I work and so what I can listen to will depend on what I am working on. This book required a little more attention so things weren't missed. There is a lot going on and it is a long book so plan accordingly. I appreciated the amount of research that had to have gone into writing this book. There was a lot of detail on multiple subjects. The narrators did a great job with both the characters and voices. I am interested in looking into other books by this author and the narrators.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Shari
  • whittier, CA, United States
  • 12-08-10

Great escape...

Great escape on a number of levels, age, time, place and attitude. The protaganist here is a somewhat unlikeable 17 year old; smart, angry, a bit redundant but fascinating. (Like many of us if we look back honestly). I got a feel for revolutionary France and the perspective from the "Royal's" point of view. Was reminded just how much a 17 year old knows and feels. Good narration with a couple accent slips but easy to follow.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Historical YA Fiction Well Done

After suffering the loss of her younger brother, Andi has difficulty moving on. She hangs with the wrong crowd and ignores her school work. In an effort to put her back on track, her estranged, yet award winning father with a new family, takes Andi to Paris. She is to research her favorite composer, completing her senior thesis.

After discovering the diary of a young girl from the French revolution, she becomes immersed in the past. Real-time Andi and past Alexdrine intertwine into an intriguing mystery.

Good YA read.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A perfect YA Historical Fiction/Fantasy!

Any additional comments?

How's that for a genre-buster? Awesome balance of YA fiction with a historical fiction twist. I loved the way Donnelly introduces Now and Then-Paris in a very individual way. So many historical fiction novels struggle to show the reader the bird's eye view of the time, trying to paint the whole picture of the historical timeframe. In Revolution, the reader only sees just a small view of what it would have been like to really be there. More like being at street level and seeing only what a person really would have seen. It felt very authentic.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Amazing, Complex, Brilliant!

What did you love best about Revolution?

The story line is amazing and the reader does the book justice. My niece read this and then listened to the audio book and was able to get a better understanding of the characters after having listened to it.

What other book might you compare Revolution to and why?

I don't know of any right now

Which character – as performed by Emily Janice Card and Emma Bering – was your favorite?

My favorite character was Alexandrine.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I would have wanted to if I could spare the time, but I would listen on my way to and from work. Better than any radio station I ever heard.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • katy
  • 03-23-16

Loved this book

I wasn't sure when I started it but it turned out to be fantastic and I couldn't put it down.

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  • Tamas Lorincz
  • 11-20-14

Absolutely loved this book

If you could sum up Revolution in three words, what would they be?

Intriguing, exciting, well-written

What did you like best about this story?

Deep emotions described with beautiful sensitivity, great knowledge abut the age and characters and a restless vivid imagination.

What about Emily Janice Card and Emma Bering ’s performance did you like?

They were brilliant. They made both characters come alive and talk to you as if they were the protagonists. I loved the narration - it added to the story and made it a real experience.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Don't try to escape history

Any additional comments?

I love the French revolutionary era and I really enjoyed the short time trip to 1790's Paris, the story made the sounds, characters and smells come to live.

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  • Leigh
  • 12-02-13

Revoloution review

Would you listen to Revolution again? Why?

This is a really good read, I was a bit apprehensive when I started listening as its not my normal theme. Its more real life than fantasy. The story is well put together and you can almost be the characters. I liked the fact that there were two narrators reading the story and that they had the appropriate accents to match the country of origin as it gave it a more real feel. Its about two girls from different eras but with so many similarities.

Who was your favorite character and why?

My favourite character was the modern day girl.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

The book was too long to listen to all in one go but I completed it in a week of travel to and from work at least three hours a day.

  • Overall
  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-30-12

A story that makes you feel!

This is a fascinating story it pulls at your emotions making you feel so strongly for both girls. It gave me a different view of the Revolution and made me want to go back to Paris with a need to be able to absorb the horror and mourn the people that died there.

  • Overall
  • Hannah
  • 06-29-12

Addictive - better than regular teen lit

I was intrigued as I had previously read a Donnelly book before and I am interested in the French Revolution so I thought I'd give it a go. After initially thinking I'd made a mistake and wondered into a morbid teenage trash book I found that in no time at all I was completely sucked into the story.

I soon became obsessed much like the central character Andi with listening to find out more. I drove through and from work listening to it, I stayed up until 1 in the morning listening to it - it gripped me that much.

Unlike other books in the genre I truly like and empathise with the characters and it is so beautifully written that you feel like you are actually there with them. The book is about obsession and addiction and Donnelly manages to pull off something truly amazing by getting this across by drawing in the readers in the same way as Andi and Alex.

  • Overall
  • lee
  • 11-08-11


fantastic ,although Alexandrine's story during the french revolution is the better story.Both of the narraters do a brilliant job,highly recommended