It must take an impressive amount of work to write a historical novel that is gripping, emotional and still accurate. This is a feat that Hilary Mantel accomplished with her book, Place of Greater Safety. It follows the story of three young men, in Paris, at the dawn of the French Revolution. Mantel manages to make you love and hate them at the same time. Camille Desmoulins, a skilled writer, is perhaps the most widely beloved character by readers in this classic novel. His school friend, small, paranoid and terrified of violence, is the famed Maximilien Robespierre. And Georges-Jacques Danton, loud and disdainful, a friend of Camille’s in later life. The characters are confusing and complex and the events that follow are dark and shocking. They all seem very human and relatable (except for perhaps Robespierre), which is why it’s so horrific when you realise that they are responsible for the death of thousands of innocents. Hilary Mantel put extensive research into this book and all the events and people mentioned are real. As she writes in the introduction to this book, “The reader may ask how to tell fact from fiction. A rough guide: anything that seems particularly unlikely is probably true.” 

She has also written other gripping historical novels, for example, her most famous work was a trilogy based on the life of Thomas Cromwell: Wolf Hall (2009), Bring Up the Bodies (2012), and The Mirror & the Light (2020). This trilogy is set in Tudor England and follows the story of a man named Thomas Cromwell. Diana Athill describes it, “A stunning book. It breaks free of what the novel has become nowadays.”

Hilary Mantel was born on July 6, in 1952, in Hadfield, Derbyshire, England and she passed away on September 22, in 2022, in Exeter, Devon.