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Tommy, thanks for your note. For thems who are interested, here's the link to a montage of a few songs from the Jill Santoriello version which for some reason I didn't know PBS aired in a concert production, that this video is from. It only quotes the line as dialogue. Merits of each show aside, what I particularly like about the song I posted is that it specifically musicalizes a famous line of literature.

Robert J. Elisberg is a two-time recipient of the Lucille Ball Award for comedy screenwriting. He's written for film, TV, the stage, and two best-selling novels, is a regular columnist for the Writers Guild of America and was for the Huffington Post. Among his other writing, he has a long-time column on technology which he sometimes understands , and co-wrote a book on world travel. RSS Feed. Elisberg Industries Decent Quality Since Home Blog Products Books Movies.

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How to Find Us. One of the hard things, I've noticed, in writing lyrics for musicals is to use a famous line as the centerpiece of the song. It might scan poorly, or feel like it's jammed in, or the rhymes around it will be forced. Or any number of reasons that can go wrong. This, however, is one of the few that got it right. And that's all the more impressive given that it's one of the most famous last lines in English literature. Adding a nice touch to all this is who sings the song.

How well, and how fondly, I remember those few golden years in Paris, undoubtedly the most dazzling city on the face of the Earth. And how I gloried in it! I confess I ran wild, like any other young scapegrace whose ample allowance burnt a hole in his pocket. I have no brothers or sisters myself, only three cousins My uncle is no more than a lazy, good-natured drunkard, if truth be told, but Elijah seems likely to get on.

As for my brother, Oliver, he is a splendid fellow, all that my father could ask for. He is tall and ruddy and handsome, just as an English gentleman should be; my mother used to say that he would grow to be a true John Bull Englishman , and that one would never guess he was half French. He rides hard, drinks hard, and works hard. But he would spring to my defence in an instant, whether against some school-yard bully or against our father himself when he is ill-tempered. She is nine years older than I and is wedded to a ship-owner in Bristol, and they don't often spare time for a visit.

I remember that she was rather vain, and selfish, but quite shrewd, and had little patience for small brothers who might be underfoot. She assists her husband in managing his concerns and evidently does well at it, for they are enormously rich. Are we not good enough friends for that, by now? Charles," I ventured, "since we are friends, and speaking of our families, may I ask you a question? You know that. Darnay is not your true name, is it? How do you know?

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I stared at him, all amazement. But if you knew what I know, or merely suspect, about my own family, the people whose name I bear And who better than you, whom I know I can trust? He was only one of a bad family. They have always been judged callous landlords and harsh masters. And there were others who were far worse than my father. From the court of the Lecher-King, who keeps a brothel on the Palace grounds? So you can imagine how very vile my uncle's behaviour must have been.

If it were only debauchery and lechery I've heard that he is diseased, as well, and that's why he has no living children. It's no more than I would expect. Of course," he added hastily, "I've scarce met him, nor do I wish to. But if you were I, would you care to know that such a man is your blood-kin? We all imagine our own troubles are the worst So, with my mother's blessing, here at Louis-le-Grand, and probably elsewhere, I am and shall be merely Charles Darnay, son of nobody in particular.

Word of honour. That's not a very common name, is it? In England? But I was named for his descendant. Algernon Sydney. Long after the Restoration, he spoke out against the King and was at last condemned and put to death, because the King feared him. He died for the cause of Liberty. He named my brother after Cromwell, and me after Sydney.

They are calling it a massacre, it's said. It's rumoured that dozens of folk, perhaps hundreds, were killed by British troops. You, who a moment ago spoke of the cause of Liberty, can ask that? Carton, their taxes lay too heavy a burthen upon them. Once again an oppressed people are speaking out against unjust rule. A hundred years ago such a thing couldn't have happened. But to-day Soon folk like my uncle will have to answer for their outrages.

Ere you and I have passed our prime, we'll be dwelling in a new world. Perhaps I shall. You needn't smile. You will be a Barrister one day; why not defend the victims of Injustice? Think on it. You can't sit idly by forever, Carton. My Parisian idyll came to an abrupt close when I had scarce turned twenty. He merely includes a draught on the bank of Tellson et Fils to pay for your passage to England.

We shall miss you, Carton. I was to go on to the University here, as my mother wished. I'd rather be here, where my friends are. But you know that. Do you think you will ever return? I don't know, even, why my father has called me back. But perhaps you could come to England. Some day. If circumstances don't keep me in France. Where is it? I know this will come as a surprise to y'all, being as how I've kept it such a closely guarded secret, but I have to say this right up front: I don't much care for the novels of Mr.

Charles Dickens. I know, I know, pick your jaws up from the floor, I'm sure you'll recover from the shock soon. Now, with that bombshell out of the way, consider this: I am rating a book based on Mr. Dickens' dreary, interminable, turgid, jelly-bodied clunking clanking gawdawful sentimental absurdly overblown And wanna know a secret?

And her novel The Executioner's Heir. And her short fiction, Masquerade. So absorb for a moment the improbability of a man with the discernment and good taste to loathe Dickens picking up this novel in the first place; reading a snatch of it and getting hooked; buying the Soho Press hardcover at retail; and becoming such a fan that he's read what there is to read by the author. So I'd say that makes this my favorite novel set in and or about France. Because I've read a lot of books, and unlike most historical fiction, this book reads like it was written by a person from that time who simply, inexplicably, happens to be alive now.

The same is true of her Ravel mysteries. I don't know how she does it, exactly, but Alleyn handwaves away the years between the Revolution and today. Forget you're reading a hardcover that did not cost you a month's wages. Or a Kindle whose mere existence would be a marvel to the people you're reading about. And you know what? I love immersive reads. I love to lose myself in a time and a place not here and not now.

And Susanne Alleyn has done that for me again, and again, and never failed to make me happy I've spent time in her company.

Best of all? Please go buy it. This author deserves our support! Not only does it fill in the story of the "hero" of ATOTC who actually appears only briefly in that book, but it corrects the timeline and fills in the details of the French Revolution that was ignored to focus solely on bloodshed. Dickens deserves credit for showing sympathy to the French poor in the years leading up to the revolution, but Alleyn shows a fairer picture of life after the fall of the Bastille. I finished reading [A Far Better Rest] a day or so ago. It is an excellent "stand alone" book, but it is also the fictional back-story to [ A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens] It both follows and tells of the life of Carton during the period between when he was a school boy in a Paris boy's school with his mirror image friend, Darney, and the dreadful, stark, closing days of the French Revolution.

Believable, to the degree that it brings the sense of characters, time and place completely to life.

I really care about these players and what is happening in France during this time period as put forth by Ms. If you love good writing and are interested in a more in depth history of how the revolution in France unfolded and the untold numbers who were subsequently guillotened as enemies of the Republic, then this is one book you will want to peruse and enjoy within its pages the story of star crossed lovers, politics, publishing, loss and betrayal in the process.

A Far Better Rest by Susanne Alleyn

I felt that it would not be a tremendous leap for this to be written about present day irrationality in the arena of politics and personalities. Scary, what is done in the name of patriotism, sometimes, when there seems to be no brains and thinking behind the frenzy of feelings of hatred and blood-thirsty revenge. Well worth your time and attention.

Mission accomplished by the author with this stunning work of fiction. Five stars.

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It would be a marvelous screenplay given the proper treatment and a good director, producer and cast. Suspense abounds even though you know the story and the ending having already read Dicken's classic.


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From the fall of the Bastille to the Reign of Terror, the revolution's main players, both historical and fictional, are portrayed with skill and depth, making even such notorious figures as Robespierre comprehensible, if not sympathetic. Although the prose is encumbered with 18th-century vernacular, Alleyn's insightful storytelling and assiduous historical research create a richly textured, tragic tale that, in the tradition of the best historical novels, brings an era alive through the depiction of human drama.

Sydney becomes a major participant in the formation of the French Republic at the end of the eighteenth century and a witness to one of the most gruesome periods in history, as the significant people in his life fall tothe guillotine. Read the chat. Home Groups Talk Zeitgeist. I Agree This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and if not signed in for advertising.