Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Mistress of the Revolution by Catherine Delors

Gabrielle de Montserrat has had a hard life. She experienced first hand the tragedies of the French Revolution and lived to tell that tale. And in 1815, now living in England, she decides to sit down and tell the story of her life, unearthing painful memories that have been buried for years.

Mistress of the Revolution has been on my wish-list for about a year, so I was so happy when I found a copy for a cheap price (Because I'm poor). It did not disappoint! It had its moments of both gripping and tender.

Gabrielle was married off to an older distant cousin on her mother's side at the childlike age of 15. She was horribly abused and left with virtually nothing except her precious daughter when she was widowed two years later. Weighing her options of a life of destitute, a cousin of her late father offers for her to stay with her in Paris.

She finds Paris to be a whole new world, with the glittering world of the wealthy and aristocratic. And, of course, Versailles. As a seventeen year old widow with a child and limited funds she must find a way to make a good life for both her and her child. She becomes mistress to a wealthy aristocrat and soon finds herself thrust into every major event during the French Revolution.

I admired Gabrielle's courage. She witnessed many horrors, experienced the deaths of those close to her and was falsely jailed and facing possible death herself. She kept finding someway to strive forward. Experiencing love, loss and the inhumane, she managed to keep her head (both literally and figuratively).

Mistress of the Revolution, seeing as how it was being written as a memoir, was a first-person narrative. Sometimes first-person throws me, but I really enjoyed it, here. I love a book that makes me experience any kind of emotion and I experienced many while reading Mistress of the Revolution. There were moments when I held my breath because I was literally afraid of what was going to happen next. And then there was a moment at the end when I almost lost it completely.

When I closed the book after the final page, I found myself thinking about it until I went to sleep. It's the kind of story that'll stay with me. Mistress of the Revolution is no doubt one of my top reads for this year.


Jules said...

Thanks for the review. I've been looking for more books set during the French Revolution for a challenge, and this might be a good choice. It looks like an interesting read.