It is rare when a historian has the depth and breadth of contemporary written material to draw their written picture of the historical events or persons they are focusing on. Lucie de la Tour du Pin (1770–1853) provided the author with that type of material allowing for a comprehensive and fascinating biography. Through Lucie’s memoirs and her prolific letter writing, we are taken down Lucie’s interesting life’s journey beginning with her position as Marie Antoinette’s lady-in-waiting. Her friends and contacts over her lifetime reads like a “who’s who” from the time of the French Revolution through the mid-19th century.
Lucie and her husband barely escaped the blade of the guillotine by emigrating to the United States where they lived (and farmed in rural New York) until Napoléon became emperor and it was safe to return to France—both of their fathers were beheaded during the “Terror.” An interesting fact was that Lucie’s husband was the last person to leave Versailles Palace after locking up the palace when Louis XVI, his family, and the court left for Paris. Lucie was a monarchist and as such, the story presented is from that viewpoint. Over the years, she became friends with Napoléon, the Duke of Wellington (she is given credit for convincing Wellington to withdraw the English troops after Napoléon’s defeat at Waterloo), Talleyrand, and the restored Bourbon monarchy.
If you’re interested in the French Revolution and its aftermath through Napoléon, the restored monarchy, and another minor revolution, this is the book that you will not put down until finished.
Author: Moorehead, Caroline
Date Published: 2010
Publisher: Harper Perennial; New York
Page Count: 512 (paperback)