Written by Michiel B.L. Korte
Review by Vicki Kondelik

This novel tells the true story of Ernestine Lambriquet, the ten-year-old daughter of servants at Versailles just before the French Revolution. After the death of her mother, Ernestine is taken into the royal family by Marie-Antoinette as an adoptive daughter and playmate to her own daughter, Princess Charlotte. The two girls bear a strong resemblance to each other and form a close bond as if they were sisters. Ernestine shares in the royal children’s lessons and games. She feels she is living a dream, but she also has the constant fear that she will be sent away if she displeases the king and queen. Then the French Revolution turns Ernestine’s dream into a nightmare as an angry mob brings the royal family to Paris. Ernestine chooses to share their captivity even though she knows her life is in danger. How will she survive when her world is turned upside down?

Korte does an excellent job of writing about the details of the royal family’s life at their residences of 18th-century Versailles, Trianon, and, later, the Tuileries in Paris. You feel you are living there with Ernestine, even though, unlike her, you know their world is about to collapse. Marie-Antoinette is portrayed as a loving mother to her children: Charlotte, the frail Dauphin Louis-Joseph, and the playful Louis-Charles. What really stands out is the friendship between Ernestine and Charlotte. The two girls are devoted to each other, even though Ernestine knows she is not royal and can be dismissed at any time. Korte also describes the violence of the Terror, and the fear the royal family felt as the mob stormed the Tuileries, very well. Occasionally he uses modern words such as “clueless” and “microaggressions,” which took me out of the story. Except for these modernisms, I highly recommend the book.