Father, Unknown is a beautifully crafted novel of a family struggling to survive before, during, and after the French revolution. It is a story of courage, devotion, mystery, and betrayal, set against the dramatic backdrop of the harrowing and violent days that accompanied the creation of the Republic under Maximillien Robespierre. Through Francois Mai's powerful gift of description, one almost feels the bite of the guillotine, along with the tragic consequences of the revolution on the French people. At the heart of the story is Marie-Anne, a strong but vulnerable and courageous young woman who bears a child, Marcel, out of wedlock, and then steadfastly continues to live in her small village in the face of intolerance and recrimination. Marcel must make his own way in life with the same indomitable spirit of his mother while he tries to solve the mystery of who his father was. The book reads like a saga from Charles Dickens, with unforgettable characters coming to life on the pages as they deal with the epic changes taking place beyond their control. Mai dramatically brings alive the mood, the sights, and sounds of this turbulent time in history, deftly weaving real-life characters like Robespierre into the compelling narrative.It is a deeply moving and magnificent novel. Robert J. Mrazek, is a former U.S. Congressman and the author of nine books, including Stonewall's Gold, which won the Michael Shaara award as best Civil War novel of 1999.
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