The Queen’s Dollmaker, Christine Trent’s historical novel, set in the final years of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette’s reign, spins a story of hard work, perseverance and hope. All at the hands of a young orphan girl.
Claudette loses everything when fire destroys the neighborhood where she has grown up. Her father, a well-loved dealmaker, and her mother are killed as their home and business are destroyed. She loses friends, too, including the loyal Jean-Philippe whom she has promised to marry when they are old enough.
She leaves Paris and France, bound for England to make her way alone in the world. She promises herself that once she has made a life for herself she will return to France to find her lost love.
I had to have this book when I went to a book signing at Turn the Page Bookstore a few weeks ago. I was drawn by the cover model’s richly decorated blue dress. You see, I am in the midst of writing a new novel in which a blue dress has a starring role.
I did judge a book by its cover — but I was not disappointed. I loved the spunk of industrious Claudette who surrounded herself with wonderful friends and colleagues. I was charmed by the dashing William Greycliffe, an aristocrat who can’t catch a break with the dollmaker. With hard work, ingenuity and some smart friends, Claudette creates dolls that win the attentions of the rich and the royal.
When all hell breaks loose in France, Claudette’s loyalty to her queen is nearly her undoing—but not another word from me.
This richly-told novel brings to life the story of regular people caught up in a time of revolution and terror. I said again and again: “Oh I’ll just read a few more pages…just one more chapter…only one more.” And suddenly the story was over and I was struggling to breathe as my heart pounded in my chest. Don’t you love when a story does that?
Ⓒ Mary K. Tilghman
The book is published by Kensington, kensingtonbooks.com