The thrilling new novel, inspired by Jim Jones’s Peoples Temple, from the author of The Love of a Bad Man.
It’s the summer of 1968, and Evelyn Lynden is a woman at war with herself. Minister’s daughter. Atheist. Independent woman. Frustrated wife. Bitch with a bleeding heart.
Following her conscientious-objector husband Lenny to the rural Eden of Evergreen Valley, California, Evelyn wants to be happy with their new life. Yet as the world is rocked by warfare and political assassinations, by racial discrimination and social upheaval, she finds herself disillusioned with Lenny’s passive ways — and anxious for a saviour.
Enter the Reverend Jim Jones, the dynamic leader of a revolutionary church called Peoples Temple. As Evelyn grows closer to Jones, her marriage is just the first casualty of his rise to power.
Meticulously researched, elegantly written, and utterly engrossing, Beautiful Revolutionary explores the allure of the real-life charismatic leader who would destroy so many. In masterful prose, Woollett painstakingly examines what happens when Evelyn is pulled into Jones’s orbit — an orbit it would prove impossible for her to leave.
‘Woollett has wisely chosen to forgo the fetishism of death and Jim Jones that is so often the focus of this tragedy. With Beautiful Revolutionary, Woollett has created an utterly intoxicating portrait of the lives of those seeking to build something new in a world that seemed to be losing its mind. Although we know what awaits us, Woollett masterfully weaves a suspenseful and complex story about people — of their dreams, beliefs, ideals, and lives all coming to a horrific end — in a way that is uniquely hers. Woollett is electric.’
Sarah Schmidt, author of See What I Have Done
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‘Laura Woollett’s imaginative retelling of the Jonestown tragedy does what only fiction can do — endows Jim Jones and his inner circle with a sense of humanity. She formulates answers to unknowable questions — how could otherwise sane people be pulled into Jones’s web of evil? What happened that last, tragic day? A lyrical and sharply rendered tale of innocence lost and ideals betrayed.’
Julia Scheeres, author of A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Jonestown
‘[D]ramatic and intriguing, the quality of Woollett’s prose is the most enjoyable aspect of this novel … Reading Beautiful Revolutionary, it is easy to imagine how so many people could have been captivated and controlled by a man such as Jones … [A]n excellent work of literary historical fiction.’ 4.5 STARS
‘Beautiful Revolutionary is some of the most exciting fiction I’ve encountered. It fearlessly explores the human elements that attracted masses to the Peoples Temple and to Jim Jones — fear, lust, the need to be loved, and the urge to feel a part of something larger than the self. This story cuts close to the bone, unrelenting and irrefutably true, over and over. Laura Elizabeth Woollett is an immense talent, and this is a bracing — and necessary — read.’
Kayla Rae Whitaker, author of The Animators
‘Woollett's writing makes this story an electricity storm. The clouds are weed smoke and the lightning charging through that haze is pure sexual energy. I'm almost half-way through and feel wholly transported. The world is both real and surreal; these characters alien and freakishly familiar to me. Completely gripping, and dripping with detail never overdone.’
Bri Lee, author of Eggshell Skull