Mistress of the Revolution by Catherine Delors

This past year I've become rather fascinated with historical fiction dealing with the French Revolution. The several I've read have been very detailed (if not entirely accurate) and have painted a rather vivid picture of life in those times. So far the stories have all been rather scandalous and shocking, and rather grotesque at times, all things that make me glad I'm typing this from the comfort of my bed in 2010.

Anyway I stumbled upon this book at Books-a-Million in the bargain bin for $3.00 and figured it was a good gamble and now having read it I can now say I'd price it at about $7.00.

The story is a memoir of Gabrielle de Montserrat, a fictitious member of the French aristocracy who is documenting her life for her son. It revolves around her relations with various political figures of the Revolution. There is a bit of a fairy tale feel to it in that she falls in love with a commoner who she is forbidden to marry and forced to wed an absolute ass of a Baron only to later come face to face with her first love again.

What it is:
It is extremely well written. Delors is a gifted storyteller. There are no holes in the story and no lose ends. I look forward to reading anything she writes in the future because I can't quite get some of the images she meticulously painted, out of my head. It was worth it just to be introduced to her writing.

What it isn't:
It isn't entertaining. Three-fourths of the way through the book I realized that there wasn't much point and nothing was really going to happen and I was anxious to be done with it. I wanted to know what was going to happen to Gabrielle regardless and really it wasn't much. I guess in that way it's a very accurate memoir, in that it details someones life, regardless of whether or not there was any action in it. Here, I can write mine really quick: "Today I drank coffee, then I brushed my teeth. I have to go to work at 10:00". If I put it all in a book and cover an expanse of time, it is indeed a memoir, but a dull one. That's how I felt about Gabrielle. I read about her entire life, know her very well and yet, nothing ever really happened.

That said, I can't not recommend it. It's very good, in a not very good kind of way. If that makes any sense :)

For those of you who find the French Revolution fascinating, so long as it's in a novel and not a history book pick up Abundance by Sena Jeter Naslund.

3 thoughts?:

Book Snob January 5, 2010 at 10:51 AM  

Great review! Honest and to the point. I wonder it I would like it because my concentration in grad school was the French Revolution. But it makes me sad when historical novels fail to deliver. Always be leary of bargin bin book...lol

Catherine Delors February 11, 2010 at 11:50 AM  

A mixed and honest review. I'll take it!
You write "I look forward to reading anything she writes in the future because I can't quite get some of the images she meticulously painted, out of my head."
Thank you! It just happens that my next novel (set a few years later, a romantic/political thriller) will be published in July:

I look forward to your impressions!



And if you are interested in the French Revolution or French history (@ Book Snob: I fear no grad school student when it comes to the Revolution as I am working on my PhD on the subject) feel free to visit my blog. http://blob.catherinedelors.com

Kristen November 19, 2010 at 9:36 PM  

I would just like to say that I REALLY enjoyed this novel. It was very entertaining, and I could not stop thinking about the characters. I felt like a spent a couple of days in this main characters life. The character development of Gabrielle is really superb and I loved the way the story was told (in that Jane Austen way)

This is a Great read. I highly recommend this book, and I cannot wait for the next book that is supposed to come out about Gabrielle.

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