The Valley Of Heaven And Hell: Cycling In The Shadow Of Marie Antoinette

The Valley Of Heaven And Hell: Cycling In The Shadow Of Marie Antoinette

by Susie Kelly


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780993092299
Publisher: Blackbird Digital Books
Publication date: 03/20/2015
Pages: 214
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.49(d)

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Valley of Heaven and Hell - Cycling in the Shadow of Marie-Antoinette 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
wrighton-time on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Article first published as Book Review: The Valley of Heaven and Hell: Cycling in the Shadow of Marie-Antoinette by Susie Kelly on Blogcritics.Imagine being on vacation and spending the time cycling through France. In The Valley of Heaven and Hell-Cycling in the Shadow of Marie-Antoinette by Susie Kelly, she introduces us to both the beauty and history of this European country just a bit smaller in scale than the state of Texas. Kelly writes a heartwarming and challenging story of her arrival into the art of cycling, keeping the story entertaining and mostly lighthearted. She keeps up an amazing dialogue along the path she and her husband have chosen which seem to parallel that traveled during the final days of Marie-Antoinette and her Husband King Louis XVI as they tried to make their escape during the French Revolution.The book is littered with known facts in this final flight as well as many of the other venues of historical significance that happened in this small area that may have had a hand in the way the world has changed over the centuries. We feel the charm though the names such as Versailles, La Villette, the Tuileries and Montmedy. Just the enunciation of the words brings to mind the chic and trendy French countryside. Americans too have been involved in many of the miseries that seem to embody some of the history of the area by acting as allies during the wars. France is full of memorials and places of special significance throughout erected in the effort to memorialize those that gave their lives for others.As Kelly and her husband Terry take their tour she keeps us entertained with the different antics of the trip and pokes a great deal of fun at herself. She interjects bits of the history of the areas they encounter and her thoughts and feelings about these as well along her way.What I didn¿t expect was to feel the history, to have the faint ghostly presence of those long past come through the reading and descriptions. It is uncanny and it is the feeling you have when visiting those areas were many have died and been laid to rest. I could feel the sadness and fear of the Monarchs for their children and for each other. The beauty and the pain are laid out in such stark relief that it is difficult to not be caught up in the history. I found myself researching and following up on some of the information that she interjects throughout to get just a bit more background.While the history is true, Kelly tackles it and makes it read like a horror story. It is hard to imagine the mindset and hysteria that creates such a magnitude of a mob scene as evidenced, as these two Royals were captured and imprisoned. And even as the pain unfolds, there is a kind of peace, that seems to come with the beauty that seems to remake itself.If you enjoy history, and are looking for a look into both the past and present than look no further. This would make an exceptional book for a book club or reading group. It would also be a wonderful addition to your library.This book was received as a free download from the author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.
Susan-Keefe More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put this book down, having been interested in this period of history for a long time. Susie and her husband's adventures on this epic cycle ride had me captivated, from their start at Versaille, the horrors of cycling in Paris to her descriptions of the places she visited and the histories behind them as they followed the final journey of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI. I learnt so much about a part of France I have never visited,the bravery of the French resistance during the wars and the Champagne houses. Having loved Paris since my first school trip visit aged 14, I have an overwelming urge to go back again and look at some of the places I have missed, armed with more knowledge. Yet another great book from my favourite author.
BigAl70 More than 1 year ago
One of my favorite non-fiction genres is the travel narrative. They aren’t an efficient way for planning a trip. Guidebooks are much better for that kind of detail. But for the armchair traveler looking for a vicarious experience, or to get the flavor of an area before visiting, they’re perfect. The travel narrative needs everything any other story has. A rote recitation of what the author did isn’t enough. To create a readable story out of the author’s experience, there needs to be conflict, to hold the reader’s attention, and an overriding theme. There are many options to do this. The subtitle, "Cycling in the Shadow of Marie-Antoinette," gives a clue to how this book deals with the issue. The trip covers the route taken by Marie-Antoinette and her family in first trying to escape France and the route used after their capture to return them to Paris. Interwoven with the actual travel, as Kelly and her husband cycle the route and visit sites along the way, is historical background. Buried within the story of Kelly’s trip, which has plenty of conflict of its own, is a mini-biography of the French Monarch, which is full of conflict while providing the theme. This approach, of combining history in a travel lesson, is one I’ve seen before and like. Just as history can come alive when you travel to historical sites, doing it by proxy can do the same. If you’re like me, your knowledge doesn’t go much beyond what you learned about Marie-Antoinette and the French Revolution while reading "A Tale of Two Cities" years ago in school. It turns out that the whole “let them eat cake” thing was a small and possibly misleading part of the story. While Marie-Antoinette provides a story, there is also the story thread of the actual trip. Kelly not only cycled the entire trip, but did so with her husband, camping most nights. That provides plenty of fuel for conflict as well. This was a trip I enjoyed taking through Susie Kelly’s eyes, both for what I learned about the area of France she traveled, and the history involved. My backside and the muscles in my legs were much happier doing it this way, too. **Originally written for "Books and Pals" book blog. May have received a free review copy. **