Book Review: The First Apostle by Katherine Pym

The First Apostle by Katherine Pym is gripping historical fiction. Set in Paris, it relates the story of journalist and pamphleteer Camille Desmoulins during the period of the French Revolution. He was an active and outspoken revolutionary, a close friend of Robespierre and other influential politicians. From verging on starvation and being forced to live on maggoty bread and wine more often than he’d like, as his fame as a controversial writer grew, so did his fortune. He was finally able to marry his beloved Lucile and enjoy domestic happiness with her and their son Henri for a short while. However, he walked a dangerous line. He made powerful enemies and eventually he ends up on the wrong side of a farcical trial. It was a risk he took by choosing his path. But his unpopularity leaves his wife at great risk too, and Camille would not have her harmed for the world.

This is a very exciting, atmospheric novel. The author’s enthusiasm for and interest in her topic shows in every word. She paints an intricate portrait of life in late eighteenth-century France. The problems, the prejudices, the joys, the horrors shine through. We meet every emotion from love to hate, from hop to despair and bump into a whole range of interesting characters. Some appeal, some repel but they’re all memorable. It’s an absorbing read and it’s hard to put down. The First Apostle leaves you feeling enriched and educated and is a book you won’t forget for a long time.