Most reviewed: Children of the Revolution

<p>Robert Gildea&rsquo;s new history of France, <em>Children of the Revolution</em>, was the most reviewed book in last weekend&rsquo;s national newspapers, occupying the lead review spot in a number of the literary sections.</p><p>The book, which is the second volume of the New Penguin History of France and explores French history from 1799 to 1914, attracted much praise and admiration from reviewers. </p><p>In the <em>Independent</em>, Richard Vinen stated that &ldquo;few historians would have the courage to take on such a story. . . Gildea, by contrast, flinches at nothing. He tells the whole story of France in the long 19th century in a book that mixes political narrative with thematic explorations of culture and society&rdquo;.</p><p>However, Vinen added: &ldquo;There are moments when Gildea&rsquo;s diligence is his own worst enemy. Every page is loaded with details and statistics&rdquo;.</p><p>John Thornhill, reviewing in the <em>Financial Times</em>, agreed that &ldquo;Gildea&rsquo;s fascinating analytical theme sometimes loses itself in the descriptive undergrowth&rdquo;, and Donald Sassoon wrote in the <em>Sunday Telegraph</em> that &ldquo;at times, the text sounds like a display of the one-damned-thing-after-the-other school of history&rdquo;. </p><p>Sassoon also pointed out, however, that where Gildea comes into his own is the sections on social and cultural history: &ldquo;here he changes tack, offering a fascinating multilayered perspective juxtaposing micro and macro history.&rdquo;</p><p>Fellow historical author Graham Robb had nothing but admiration for Gildea: &ldquo;Although it bulges with certifiable fact, [<em>Children of the Revolution</em>] also gives a face to many neglected individuals and makes wonderful use of fictional characters,&rdquo; he wrote in the <em>Sunday Times</em>; and Virginia Rounding in the <em>Daily Telegraph</em> highlighted Gildea&rsquo;s &ldquo;multifaceted approach, often viewing large events through the prism of individual experience&rdquo;. </p><p><strong>MOST REVIEWED (25th to 27th July):&nbsp;</strong></p><p><em>Children of the Revolution</em> by Robert Gildea<br />(Allen Lane 9780713997606 &pound;30)<br />&ldquo;A <em>triumph&rdquo;&#8200;Independent</em> <br />&ldquo;Very enjoyable&rdquo; <em>Daily Telegraph</em> <br />&ldquo;Sober, concise and masterly&rdquo; <em>Sunday Times </em><br />&ldquo;[At times] a rather unconvincing mix of analysis and narrative&rdquo; <em>Financial Times </em><br />&ldquo;Analysis takes second place to exposition&rdquo; <em>Sunday Telegraph</em></p><p><em>In Zodiac Light</em> by Robert Edric<br />(Doubleday 9780385612586 &pound;16.99)<br />&ldquo;Beautifully imagined&rdquo;&#8200;<em>Daily Telegraph </em><br />&ldquo;A potent exercise in fictional recuperation&rdquo; <em>Sunday Times </em><br />&ldquo;A remarkable, serious, accomlished novel&rdquo; <em>Times </em><br />&ldquo;A book full - for good and for ill - of knowing manipulations&rdquo; <em>Guardian</em></p><p><em>The Kit-Kat Club</em> by Ophelia Field <br />(HarperPress 9780007178926 &pound;25)<br />&ldquo;Instructive and engrossingly readable&rdquo; <em>Guardian </em><br />&ldquo;Highly intelligent&rdquo; <em>Observer</em> <br />&ldquo;Authoritative portrait of a genuinely revolutionary era&rdquo; <em>Sunday Telegraph </em><br />&ldquo;[Field] has a native gift for historical retrieval&rdquo;&#8200;<em>Times</em></p><p><em>Life With My Sister Madonna </em>by Christopher Ciccone<br />(Simon &amp; Schuster 9781847374387 &pound;17.99)<br />&ldquo;A minor - if inadvertent - comic masterpiece&rdquo;&#8200;<em>Daily Mail </em><br />&ldquo;What saves this book from being just another cloudburst of vitriol is its candour&rdquo; <em>Sunday Telegraph </em><br />&ldquo;Why not go the whole hog and call it Sissie Dearest?&rdquo; <em>Observer</em><br /></p>