*Image courtesy of Good Reads
Synopsis: On the brink of revolution, with a tide of hate turned against the decadent royal court, France is in turmoil – as is the life of one young woman forced to leave her beloved Paris. After a fire destroys her home and family, Claudette Laurent is struggling to survive in London. But one precious gift remains: her talent for creating exquisite dolls that Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France herself, cherishes. When the Queen requests a meeting, Claudette seizes the opportunity to promote her business, and to return home…
Infused with the passion and excitement of a country – and an unforgettable heroine – on the threshold of radical change, this captivating novel propels readers into a beguiling world of opulence, adventure, and danger, from the rough streets of eighteenth-century London to France’s lavish Palace of Versailles.
Sometimes you read a book and it was exactly what you expected it to be. And then sometimes you read something that goes way beyond your expectations, leaving you pleasantly surprised and thrilled with the story. This is absolutely one of those books.
Claudette Laurent is a native Parisian, forced to move to London due to a tragic fire that takes her family and future away from her. Rather than accepting her new place in society, Claudette fights against her new oppressive employer and embraces her inherited talent of dollmaking. This courageous step brings her into contact with the high society of London, and eventually even the royal families of England and France.
Along with her dear friend Beatrice, Claudette soon has a booming business – which comes with a price of its own. While the thrill of making dolls for Marie Antoinette brings C. Laurent Fashion Dolls a new kind of customer, it also draws the attention of the revolutionaries of France. In a time when most people are fleeing the country, Claudette is faced with having to choose between the loyalty to her friend the Queen, or her own safety.
While Claudette and her story are entirely fictional, the reader wonders how many people lived through similar events during this tumultuous time in French history. Countless lives were destroyed due to false charges, fixed trials, and mere association with the royal family. The author could have glossed over the unpleasant events of this period, but instead brings a story that keeps you on the edge of your seat. You will find yourself filled with anxiety about the circumstances Claudette finds herself in, and hope that things will turn out alright in the end. All the while, the reader knows the true results of this revolution, and is constantly reminded of the price a country can pay when the mob takes over.
The historical detail is what really pulls you into this story, especially the inclusion of many characters who were living, breathing people that had their lives turned upside down because of their friendships with the King and Queen. Claudette is a lovely heroine, but the real beauty of this story is the way the author infuses this fictional dollmaker into the royal court, showing how even a normal trades person can be caught up in the frenzy of overhauling a country.
Read this book if: You enjoy historical fiction, especially that with details you may always see. This is an interesting look at the royal court of France during the reign of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, and I think a great introduction to this period in history.
Full disclosure: I received this book as an advanced reading copy from Curled up with a Good Book, which received the book from the publisher, Kensington Fiction. This has in no way affected my review.
Originally published at CurledUp.com Copyright 2010 by dorolerium for Curled Up With a Good Book