Monday 26 February 2018

A Discovering Diamonds review of To Live Out Loud by Paulette Mahurin

AMAZON UK £2.57 £9.62
AMAZON US $ 3.53 $14.95
AMAZON CA $5.21 $19.03

Biographical fiction
late 19th /early 20th  Century

The title is a quote from Emile Zola and this book deals with the French author's outrage over the Dreyfus affair – a judiciary scandal that rocked France in the late 19th Century. His sense of justice caused him to write  J'accuse – an article that was published in the newspaper that he then worked for. In a farcical trial, he was found guilty of libel but fled to England and only returned to France once the truth came out some years later.  The tale is told through the eyes of the fictional Charles Mandonette, who, as a young man, met the child Emile, becoming a firm friend and father figure, thus allowing him to know Zola's thoughts and motives.

There is no doubt that the author has placed together the facts of the Dreyfus affair with great accuracy and passion.  The book is written in a matter of fact style – each chapter being headed with a quote from Zola's writings - though there are one or two words or phrases that I would question as having been used by the characters in that era. There is also one unfortunate aberration: “He moved his head across the table and in a whisper said...”.

But my main criticism is that it is rather too short with no real character building and even less attention to Zola's wife or his mistress. I realise that the Dreyfus affair is the overwhelming subject of the book, but I feel that it could have been so much more.

Nevertheless, it will appeal to those interested in that particular incident in French history.

© Richard Tearle

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