Wednesday, February 24, 2010
The Queen's Dollmaker by Christine Trent
"On the brink of revolution, with a tide of hate turned against the decadent royal court, France is in turmoil -- as is the life of one young woman forced to leave her beloved Paris. After a fire destroys her home and family, Claudette Laurent is struggling to survive in London. But one precious gift remains: her talent for creating exquisite dolls that Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France herself, cherishes. When the Queen requests a meeting, Claudette seizes the opportunity to promote her business, and to return home...
Amid the violence and unrest, Claudette befriends the Queen, who bears no resemblence to the figurehead rapidly becoming the scapegoat of the Revolution. But when Claudette herself is lured into a web of deadly political intrigue, it becomes clear that friendship with France's most despised woman has grim consequences. Now, overshadowed by the specter of Madame Guillotine, the Queen's dollmaker will face the ultimate test...." (from the publisher)
The Queen's Dollmaker by Christine Trent is a delightful novel that combines interesting historical events during the reign of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette with the fictional tale of Claudette Laurent, a dollmaking artisan, and her struggle to overcome adversity. Blending history, romance, suspense, and the fascinating details of crafting eighteenth century dolls, Ms. Trent has created a story of love and loss, friendships, survival, political intrigue, and betrayals. Through it all, the heroine, Claudette, remains true to her legacy as the daughter of a master dollmaker, and uses her inner resources and her talents to establish an independent life for herself and her loved ones.
While there are two love interests in Claudette's life (one is Jean-Philippe, a young man with whom she was betrothed before tragedy forced her to leave France, and the elegant William Greycliffe of England who has his own difficult personal circumstances), Claudette never wavers from her goal of gaining her own personal independence by establishing her business and catering to a prestige clientele. The most interesting aspect of the book for me was the process of creating her business and the details of the dollmaking; from the selection of woods for carving body parts, to paints, fabrics, trims, and wax molds -- I found it all very entertaining reading. The course of Claudette's life is altered when her beautifully crafted fashion dolls become a favorite with Marie Antionette. While it appears to be a blessing to have the French queen's favor, it ultimately puts her life in danger when revolutionaries begin their terrorizing activities against the French aristocracy and their associates.
I'm fascinated with the historical period of this book, and the author includes a short bibliography of books used in the writing of The Queen's Dollmaker. It would have been nice to also include some references for the history of dolls and the craft of dollmaking for the reader to explore; overall, it was an enjoyable read and I recommend it for those who enjoy historical fiction with light romance.
Title: The Queen's Dollmaker
Author: Christine Trent
genre: historical fiction
Publisher: Kensington Books