"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times"
The trials and challenges of life become even more difficult if you are living in a turbulent time, for example during the French Revolution. If you are interested in imagining life during the French Revolution, check out these modern adult and YA novels, all of which are set during the French Revolution, but which approach this significant historical event in a variety of ways.
Mistress of the Revolution by Catherin Delors
Fifteen-year-old Gabrielle de Montserrat's aristocratic family insists that she marry a man with wealth and means. When her overbearing and incestuous brother discovers she's fallen in love with a commoner named Pierre-Andre, he arranges a marriage for to a man three times her age, whose subsequent sudden death ironically leaves Gabrielle and her daughter penniless. She moves to Paris to be with her cousin -- and soon becomes the mistress of Monsieur de Villers. But when the French Revolution comes, she's reunited with Pierre-Andre Coffinhal, now a member of the Revolutionary Tribunal. Can she trust him with her heart again and, more importantly, her safety?
Enchantee by Gita Trelease
With deceased parents and a gambler for a brother, Camille is left to support both herself and her sister Sophie. With few choices, Camille works the glamoire -- an enchanted ball gown that works dark magic. When she wears the gown, she can pass as a beautiful and elegant aristocrat at Versailles and use magic to cheat at cards and win money. Camille is determined to hate the people she meets at Versailles, but she ends up becoming friends with them. Plus, there is the mystery of Lazare. Is he simply a man who wants to get enough money to finance the flight of his hot air balloon -- or is he just another spoiled marquis? The people are tired of the aristocrats’ excesses and trouble is coming for everybody. Who can Camille trust during this rapid time of change? Who are her real friends?
Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran
Marie Tussaud, a poor young girl in Paris, has managed to eke out a living for herself and her family through admissions to the wax museum that she has designed. Marie approaches the queen’s dressmaker, Rose Bertin, to ask her if she can make an image of both her and the queen in wax and Rose Bertin agrees. When the royal family comes to see this, the king’s sister is so impressed that she requests Marie’s presence at Versailles as a tutor in wax sculpting. Marie becomes accustomed to the glamorous life of the court at Versailles and envisions a profitable and successful business based on the strength of her connections. But then the Revolution starts and nobody is safe from the guillotine.
Where the Light Falls: A Novel of the French Revolution by Alison and Owen Pataki
The year is 1792. The French Revolution has started. The king and queen have already tried to flee. Jean-Luc St. Clair, a lawyer, has moved to Paris along with his wife Maria and his child, Mathieu. Jean-Luc is excited and energized about what the Revolution promises: liberty and equality. He spends his days cataloging property that has been seized from wealthy families. Captain Andre Valiere is the son of a guillotined aristocrat. He has abandoned his noble heritage and now fights as a soldier who is dedicated to moving France forward after the Revolution. However, the general only has contempt for Andre and his brother Remy because of their heritage. When Andre falls in love with the general’s niece, Sophia, his days are numbered and both his life and Sophia’s life are both turned upside down. Will our characters survive the Revolution and the Reign of Terror?
The Pale Assassin by Patricia Elliott
Eugenie de Boncoeur is a young, pretty and spoiled teenager who is being looked after by her brother, Armand, and their guardian, Comte Lefaurie of Haut-bois. Her life has been nothing but pretty dresses, parties and various leisure activities. However, when the French Revolution comes, everything changes. Their house is destroyed, and Armand and his friends may be part of a plot to rescue the king and queen. Finally, Armand comes up with a plan to send Eugenie to England so she can be with her uncle. Will she make it there safely? (After you've discovered her fate -- and that of her traveling companion, Julien -- check out this book's sequel, The Traitor’s Smile.)
Looking for more fiction set during the French Revolution? Check out previous Read Feed list Vive La Révolution! -- which looks at more classic titles and happens to include the novel that gives this list its title.