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The Brethren

Fortunes of France: Book 1
Narrated by: Andrew Wincott
Series: Fortunes of France, Book 1
Length: 14 hrs and 44 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (25 ratings)

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Summary

The Perigord of 16th-century France is a wild region on the edge of the reaches of royal authority - its steep, forested valleys roamed by bands of brigands and gypsies, its communities divided by conflict between Catholics and converts to the new Protestant faith, the Huguenots.

To this beautiful but dangerous country come two veterans of the French king's wars, Jean de Siorac and Jean de Sauveterre, The Brethren - as fiercely loyal to the crown as they are to their Huguenot religion. They make their home in the formidable chateau of Mespech, and the community they found prospers, but they are far from secure - religious civil war looms on the horizon, famine and plague stalk the land, and The Brethren must use all their wits to protect those they love from the chaos that threatens to sweep them away.

The Brethren is the first volume in the epic historical drama Fortunes of France - a lusty, exhilarating blend of adventure and romance set against the backdrop of a critical period in European history.

Robert Merle (1908-2004) was born in French Algeria, before moving to mainland France in 1918. Originally an English teacher, Merle served as an interpreter with British Expeditionary Force during the Second World War, and was captured by the German army at Dunkirk, the experience of which served as the basis for his Goncourt-prize-winning Weekend at Zuydocoote. He published the 13 volumes of his hugely popular Fortunes of France series over four decades, from 1977 to 2003, the final volume appearing just a year before his death of a heart attack in 2004.

©2014 Robert Merle (P)2014 Audible Studios

Critic reviews

"A master of the historical novel" ( Guardian
"The spectacular 13-volume evocation of 16th-17th-century France" ( Independent)
"The Dumas of the twentieth century" ( Neues Deutschland)
"A wonderful, colourful, breathlessly narrated historical panorama" ( Zeitpunkt)
"Robert Merle is one of the very few French writers who has attained both popular success and the admiration of critics. The doyen of our novelists is a happy man" ( Le Figaro)

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Bravo!

Entertaining, informing and sometimes thought provoking. Everything one wants from a historical novel. Can't wait to start the next one.

2 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Yawn

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

A rewrite with rounded characters to put the history in context. The overall impression is a lack of tension, it's just flat and it shouldn't be given the events that are being described here. The story covers religious wars and bubonic plague, luckily, for them the family are able to survive all adversity with some contrived co- incidences and heroic father. Also author was very taken with large breasted women with many a rose tinted description.

You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

If you like family sagas that aren't too taxing this is for you, Hilary Mantel it ain't.

Any additional comments?

Avoid and I am not enticed to listen to the second saga.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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A long journey

I thought about giving up on this book, not one for listeners wanting non stop action. Not particularly deep or philosophical, but I was sadly moved at the end.

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  • c_annie
  • 19-02-17

NOT like Alexandre Dumas

I like historical fiction. I chose this book because I had read reviews that said this author was like a 20th century Alexandre Dumas. NOT. No fine flourishes of rhetoric. Instead of carving beautiful characterizations in marble, this author pushes around clay with fat thumbs to make his characters. He uses casual rape frequently for his plot. Most of the conversations are petty bickering. Couldn't bear to listen anymore.

4 people found this helpful