I want to start by saying that I did really like this book. I feel like it was well researched and it flowed nicely. I liked how it spanned a longer period of time, showing what life was like for the main characters before the Revolution started and all the way through it to what life is like for them after the revolution (if they survived!)
The issues I had with this book were only with the characters themselves. I can honestly say there was not ONE character I liked as a person. I enjoyed reading their story, but most of the time I was not feeling sorry for them much. Gabrielle, the main character, was a beautiful aristocrat. She fell in love with a commoner, Pierre-Andre Coffinhal, for some reason. I get that she was fifteen and didn’t know any better but he was obnoxious. She was innocent enough at the time that I did feel bad when her family made her marry that awful older man. She suffered through a terrible marriage. Thankfully, it didn’t last long, though. I was very surprised she went to Paris, knowing Pierre-Andre was there too, and did not contact him right away. She had nothing to be embarrassed at that point about because she was forced into marrying the older man. It would have been nice for them to reunite here and have more time together to build on their love. But she becomes a mistress of another aristocrat who is also a revolutionary. He’s nicer to her than her husband but I still don’t like him much at all. Finally, when she reunites with Pierre-Andre I was like “YES!”…for about a second. He was still as obnoxious, proud, arrogant, and downright mean. I have no idea why the main character loves him like she does except that she feels she owes him a debt. That doesn’t create love, though, so I have no idea. And then he’s gone in the blink of an eye. They got barely any time together and then the book was over. I feel the main character, Gabrielle, didn’t grow or learn much through her terrible journey through the Revolution.
Another issue I had is that most of the horrors of the Revolution were not experienced by the character herself, but relayed to her through friends or news outlets. So she was basically retelling second-hand accounts of what was going on. It would have been a much better story if more had happened to her during the Revolution. That’s not to say she did not see some horrors and deal with some truly terrible things. Just not as much as I would have thought for being an aristocrat in Revolutionary Paris.
I would recommend this to anyone who likes historical fiction and the French Revolution. It wasn’t a sappy love story, but there was love in it, so I feel it could be enjoyed by just about anyone.