Eleven year old Isabelle is a lacemaker in the town of Versailles. One day as she delivers lace to the palace, she is almost trampled by a crowd of courtiers — only to be rescued by Marie Antoinette. Before Isabelle can believe it, she has a new job — companion to the queen’s daughter. Isabelle is given a fashionable name, fashionable dresses — a new identity. At home she plies her needle under her grandmother’s disapproving eye. At the palace she is playmate to a princess. Thrown into a world of luxury, Isabelle is living a fairy-tale life. But this facade begins to crumble when rumors of starvation in the countryside lead to whispers of revolution. How can Isabelle reconcile the ugly things she hears in the town with the kind family she knows in the palace? And which side is she truly on?(Product description from Amazon.ca)
I thought this was a great novel for younger readers who are about to be introduced to the history of the French Revolution. It’s fitting for younger readers, as the main character and narrator is a child.
Isabelle’s naivete really shows, she’s happy to be a playmate of the Princess and prefers to be there instead of back at the shop making lace while her Grandmother makes snide comments, and her mother who is sick also tries to help out (with little success). Isabelle doesn’t really realize the severity of the situation happening in France until her brother points it out. Then as the story develops, Isabelle’s eyes open and they do see what’s really happening outside of the palace. Isabelle also gets another reality check when she comes home to find it in disrepair
I had no sympathies for the Grandmother, she was mean and although it’s true that earning money was the main focus and priority, she belittled Isabelle and her mother and didn’t treat them so nice. To me, she was just a bitter old woman who needed an attitude adjustment.
The plot was well written and an easy read. I liked the relationship between the Princess and Isabelle. The Princess does shed a few secrets of her own, mostly on how she feels about her mother, the Queen (Marie Antoinette). Although she might act like a typical Princess, spoiled, selfish, and self centered. She’s also a young girl who just needs a bit of love, care, and decent friends who are not friends with her just because of her title and status. I thought Isabelle was a good friend, who not only was supportive and caring but also gave the Princess an eye opener or two about how life was really like out there outside of the palace.
Overall, it’s a great novel for younger readers to introduce them to this aspect of history. Those who love historical fiction will also enjoy reading this quick read.
I give it an 8 out of 10.