Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Twenty-nine: The Queen's Dollmaker - Christine Trent

Claudette Laurent met the Dauphine - Marie Antoinette - at a young age.  She was enthralled by her beauty and youth.  Set in the backdrop of the French Revolution, The Queen's Dollmaker captures the political environment within Paris as well as between France and England.  Claudette is forced to flee to England after a fire destroys her father's doll shop and a carriage runs over her parents.  On the ship over to England she befriends a young Frenchwoman -Beatrice and her daughter.  Once they dock she is "sold" to a local family to be their French maid.  She quickly realizes that being a maid in this household was not going to be easy.  After a few months she saves enough money - from making dolls to be sold on the black market - to leave the household and rent her own place.

Eventually, Claudette is able to convince local fabric shops to give her samples of fabric to show off on her dolls.  She begins to build her doll making business and make her way in a foreign country.  She teaches Beatrice how to help her build the dolls so that they can support themselves. Claudette is always wondering if she will ever see her love of her life - Jean Phillipe again.  In the mean time she is woed by lord William Greycliffe who is impressed with her guts to make her own way. In the end Claudette is reunited with Jean Phillipe but not for the reasons she originally thought.  Her allegiance to the Dauphine is questioned as the political environment between France and England heats up.

I could not put this book down.  I liked the way the story was built around Marie Antoinette's legend.  The heroine is a strong woman and worked to overcome any obstacles in her way to happiness.

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