1789: Henrietta Lightfoot, a young Englishwoman, trips on her silk gown as she runs for her life along the bloodstained streets of revolutionary Paris. She finds refuge in the opulent home of Grace Dalyrmple Elliott, the city’s most celebrated courtesan. But heads are rolling, neighbours fear neighbours, and masters whisper before servants. As the sound of the guillotine echoes outside, within the gilded salons of high society Henrietta becomes a pawn in a vicious game of female power. How will she survive in a world where no one can be trusted?
What I Thought:
Historical fiction is right up my alley – I enjoy a plot where fictional characters are interwoven with real-life people and events, and this has been very skillfully done in The French Lesson. When I was sent the book, I didn’t realise that it is actually the second book in a series featuring Henrietta Lightfoot and, although I will go back and read the first book (Mistress of My Fate), The French Lesson stands very well on its own.
Henrietta Lightfoot is an excellent leading lady, equal parts naivete and independence, she is able to negotiate high society Paris, and yet survive the French Revolution. She is a very accessible character too – there are many occasions on which it is easy to empathise with her situation.
The factual elements of the plot and the real life figures are excellently written, given that much of what they say and do can only be supposition, and Hallie Rubenhold has a delicate hand with the history – there’s no effort to ram what must be hours and hours of research down your throat leading to a false note in the narrative. It’s paced very well and leaves the door open for more of Herietta’s adventures in future novels.
Don’t forget to check out my Twitter this week, as I’ll be giving away a copy of The French Lesson…
Note: I received a copy of The French Lesson from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review.