Title: The Queen’s Dollmaker
Author: Christine Trent
Publisher: Kensintong 2010
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Reading Challenges: Historical Fiction; A to Z: Title Q
How I Got It: Library lend
On the brink of revolution, with a tide of hate turned against the decadent royal court, France is in turmoil – as is the life of one young woman forced to leave her beloved Paris. After a fire destroys her home and family, Claudette Laurent is struggling to survive in London. But one precious gift remains: her talent for creating exquisite dolls that Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France herself, cherishes. When the Queen requests a meeting, Claudette seizes the opportunity to promote her business, and to return home…Amid the violence and unrest, Claudette befriends the Queen, who bears no resemblance to the figurehead rapidly becoming the scapegoat of the Revolution. But when Claudette herself is lured into a web of deadly political intrigue, it becomes clear that friendship with France’s most despised woman has grim consequences. Now, overshadowed by the spectre of Madame Guillotine, the Queen’s dollmaker will face the ultimate test.
I started reading this book with high hopes. I loved the premise, the characters were interesting, and I really like historical fiction. Yet, most of this fell flat. I loved the main character; Claudette was a real women with hopes, dreams, and insecurities. Beatrice was tiresome, but her daughter was wonderful. All the other side characters in Claudette’s life were interesting and intriguing. I even liked the interactions between Claudette and Marie Antoinette. The setting was unique. I haven’t read a historical fiction novel set on the Eve of Revolution in France. I was really liking the story. The part I disliked: the switches in point of view and voice to Marie Antoinette. I felt like the author was trying to educate us mere mortals about the Revolution by following Marie Antoinette’s story also. It felt very cluttered and unnecessary. I don’t think the readers needed a history lesson that detailed. So what? We could have understood Claudette’s story and even how her story interacts with Marie Antoinette’s without the switches. I kept having to reorient myself to various characters. For that reason, I gave the book 3 stars. I liked the main storyline and characters, just not the point of view changes.