HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: In the Reign of Terror: A Story of the French Revolution
Author: G. A. Henty
Illustrator: J. Schonberg
Publisher: Dover Publications, republished in 2008
Related website: http://www.doverpublications.com (publisher)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 9 and up
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Henty, G. A. In the Reign of Terror: A Story of the French Revolution (originally published as In the Reign of Terror: The Adventures of a Westminster Boy in 1888 by Blackie and Sons Limited, London, England; republished in 2008 by Dover Publications Inc., 31 E 2nd St., Mineola, NY 11501). It is around 1792 or 1793, and seventeen-year-old Harry Sandwith lives in Chelsea, England, having been a student at Westminster School for several years. His father is a doctor, and Harry has three younger brothers and four sisters. Dr. Sandwith receives a letter from a young French nobleman formerly attached to the French embassy in London whom he had previously treated asking if the doctor knows of a young man who could be sent to work for his brother, the Marquis de St. Caux, in France as a companion for his two sons, Ernest and Jules. The Marquis and his wife also have three daughters, Marie, Jeanne, and Virginie. Mr. Sandwith determines to send Harry. Unfortunately, the political situation in France soon becomes very unstable.
Shortly after Harry arrives, he saves the two younger St. Caux girls from a mad dog, and Jeanne falls in love with him. It is after that when the troubles begin. The Jacobins seize control of the French Revolution and determine to kill all former nobles along with everyone associated with them. What will happen to the Marquis and his family? What will happen to Harry? Will he ever make it home? We have never been disappointed in a book by George Alfred Henty. He gives an excellent portrayal of the background of the French Revolution which, unlike the American Revolution which was based on Biblical principles and resulted in freedom, was taken over by godless atheists who turned it into a massacring bloodbath. The reader gets to meet such important historical characters as Georges Danton, Jean-Paul Marat, and Maximilien Robespierre. The book is characterized by both great suspense and the high moral conduct of the hero. In reading aloud, I did edit out a few references to drinking wine and brandy.