In the Reign of Terror by G.A. Henty is a story of the French Revolution set in the year 1793. Harry Sandwith, a sixteen-year-old English boy, is sent to the French countryside to be a companion to the sons of the Marquis de St. Caux. As Harry participates in St. Caux family life, Henty illustrates the contrast between the French and English ways of life and sets the stage for the conflict to come. As tensions mount and the aristocracy begins to feel the anger of the oppressed French people, the Marquis removes his family to Paris to be near the King and Queen. Little does the Marquis know the danger that awaits his family, and when it becomes clear that the people are becoming violent, the Marquis sends his sons to the country and his daughters to a former servant's home in Paris. Harry is free to return to England, but true to a Henty hero, he stays to protect and help the girls should the need arise. Not surprisingly, the need does arise!
This Henty tale is exciting, suspenseful, and dramatic. A little blood and gore will appeal to the boys in your family, while a little romance between our hero and one of his young French charges will keep Mom and the girls interested too. I never cease to be amazed at how much history Henty packed into his stories. You might keep an encyclopedia and atlas handy if you are unfamiliar with the history and geography of France.
Jim Weiss presents a "thoughtfully, gently abridged" reading of In
the Reign of Terror; however, fear not--with nine hours of story, you will not feel like anything is missing. Weiss does a fine job with his French accents and pronunciations. In addition, I am extremely impressed with how well Weiss manages to maintain distinctly different voices for each character. Those of us who read aloud to our children know how hard it is to do that well!
I take two of my children to speech therapy twice a week--a 45-minute drive each way. All three of us looked forward to our time in the car to listen to In
the Reign of Terror. Chapters run about thirty-five minutes each, so we generally managed one chapter in each direction. My twelve-year-old son told me that when he reads now, he hears himself reading it with Mr. Weiss's intonations and phrasing. I'm delighted that my children are picking up on this skill, because reading aloud is really an art, and Jim Weiss is an excellent example.