Friday, August 01, 2008

Journal of My Life During the French Revolution...

though this should more aptly be titled "A memoir of my life..." as Grace Dalrymple Elliott penned in 1801 at the request of George III upon her return to England from France.

Nonetheless, it's a fascinating read, extremely biassed in its coverage of the Revolution (Ms. Elliott was a staunch Royalist). The details, though, are worth looking past the author's political viewpoint. It's the little things I found so interesting, about life in Paris during the Revolution, the people and the politics. Did she exaggerate? Possibly - I imagine looking back one might embellish a little.

On the other hand, I can't imagine how someone could spend 18 months in a Revolutionary prison and NOT remember. It was also cool to read about the people she shared her incarceration with, such as Josephine Beauharnais (later Josephine Bonaparte).

Having read Jo Manning's My Lady Scandalous a few years ago, I knew what to expect. What really was interesting was Grace's relationship with her erstwhile lover, the Duke of Orléans. By turns she was his closest advisor and one of his harshest critics as he forsook his cousin the king, helping to send him to the scaffold in January of 1793.

If you're curious to read this memoir, you can, through the beauty of Google books, though I have to admit, I was happy enough to have a copy of the book in my hands while I read. I still haven't really adapted to e-books yet, though I do intend to buy and try Nicola Cornick's latest Harlequin Historical release with interactive links - but that's a topic for another day.

If you are at all interested in the French Revolution, and especially in Anglophones who remained in Paris during that period, I urge you to seek out this volume. What really impressed me is how readable it is. Mrs. Elliott certainly did have a way with words, conveying the tension, excitement and colour of the period with a great more skill than I expected.


Currently Reading: The Scarlet Lion by Elizabeth Chadwick (I'm nearing the end and have slowed down as I know what's going to happen and don't want to cry :( )
Link of the Day: "The Lady and the Duke" - official site of the film based on Mrs. Elliott's memoir (released in 2002) - we're going to watch it this weekend.


Kelly Boyce said...

I've finally started reading Falcons by EC and it is really good.

Melissa Marsh said...

OOOOH. This looks like a GREAT book.