"they were married in the summer of love, when it seemed like everyone was either getting married or getting laid a lot."
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.
Praise for Beautiful Revolutionary
“Beautiful Revolutionary grabs attention from the beginning, not with narrative hooks but with the sheer penetration of its prose… a truly exciting writer.”
THE WEEKEND AUSTRALIAN
“[Woollett] follows Joan Didion, another sharp-eyed observer of the Californian scene in the ’60s and ’70s – another writer who appreciated how genuine human impulses could be harnessed and warped by the wrong kind of leader.”
“woollett is electric.”
SARAH SCHMIDT, AUTHOR OF SEE WHAT I HAVE DONE
THE SATURDAY PAPER
“This Australian debut novel, based on the apocalyptic religious cult that culminated in the Jonestown massacre, is supple and punchy, with a hysterical edge.”
THE GUARDIAN UK
“Woollett reclaims victims’ narratives from sensationalist headlines and re-educates her readers through sharp, expertly crafted fiction.”
THE IRISH TIMES
"weighty and disquieting.”
“A rich portrait of a highly mythologised historical incident. The passion that the author has had for her research shines through … for readers who appreciate a well-written, well-researched novel that approaches things from different angles.”
THE AU REVIEW
“Woollett is considered Australia's foremost expert on Jonestown, and her novel is a riveting tale of love, obsession and devotion. If you loved The Girls or Netflix's Wild Wild Country, this one's for you.”
“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.”
BOOKS + PUBLISHING
“Equal parts earth and ecstasy, pulsing with life…”
PEGGY FREW, AUTHOR OF HOPE FARM
“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.”
“A lyrical and sharply rendered tale of innocence lost and ideals betrayed.”
JULIA SCHEERES, AUTHOR OF A THOUSAND LIVES
KAYLA RAE WHITTAKER, AUTHOR OF THE ANIMATORS
“It’s easy to see why Woollett is one of Australia’s leading young writers. The characters and observations are incisive and gripping, and prose masterful and electric.”