Thursday, April 14, 2011

Book 25: Dancing to the Precipice

Dancing to the Precipice is one of my favorite biographies in a long time (I exclude the memoirs since well they read so completely different from a true biography). It's immensely rich in content and descriptions but it didn't read like a text book.

I love the French Revolution/Revolutionary War/Napoleonic era. So much so when my mom heard I got a biography on Lucie de la Tour du Pin, I wasn’t surprised to hear her say “So you are reading that stuff again?” What can I say I’m drawn to that stuff especially court life by Marie Antoinette and salon life.

Lucie de la Tour du Pin is a fascinating woman who lived through so much drama. She was a lady in waiting for Marie Antoinette, lived briefly in America, was asked to be a lady in waiting for Napoleon’s court, was an ambassador’s wife and lost nearly everything. As a gift to her family, she penned her memoir in order to give them her account of what it was like to be in such a turbulent age which was published by her great grandson for the world to enjoy. So it made perfect sense to read a biography about Lucie de la Tour du Pin.

One of the things I loved in this book were the descriptions. They were so fanciful and yet crystal clear. Most of them came from writings of the time. One of the descriptions I loved most was “Republicans and royalists, attempting to reinvent themselves in this Consular Paris, where everything changed every day and no one knew what would happened next, ‘played together without liking each other, but without fearing each other either, rather as poor toothless dogs might play with cats which had had their claws removed.’” Only one time I was questioning Caroline Moorehead’s disgression for including a little TMI about a noble who had a disease causing problems with his penis. Interesting fact in a way but really just too much information on that one.

I would recommend this book to anyone who was a good look into the time frame in addition to a well written biography. It was a fantastic read. It wasn’t dry like some books. Marie Antoinette by Antonia Fraser (which was a source for the book) wrote a wonderful book that was well researched but it was a dry read. I was so glad that Dancing to the Precipice was able to balance the wonderful research with the narrative to a life.

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