The Lacemaker And The Princess
In 1788, the 11-year-old lacemaker Isabelle Bonnard lives in the town near the palace of Versailles with her sickly mother and stern grandmother, while her older brother works as a stableboy to the Marquis de Lafayette. When Isabelle goes to deliver lace to the palace, Queen Marie Antoinette rescues her from being trampled by a mob of courtiers. She introduces Isabelle to her daughter, Princess Therese, and the two girls soon become friends. Although Therese is surrounded by servants and courtiers, Isabelle soon realizes that the princess is just as lonely as she is. Soon, Isabelle becomes Therese’s companion and official lacemaker, and is given a fashionable nickname and fancy dresses. But she cannot ignore the growing rumors of revolution. On a visit to Paris with her brother, Isabelle sees how the people are starving, and she realizes that they hate the king and queen for living a life of luxury while doing nothing to help them. She also knows that, without Therese’s support, she and her mother might have starved, too. When revolution comes and her brother joins the National Guard to defend the people of Paris, Isabelle is torn between both sides: the king and queen have always been kind to her, but she also sympathizes with the people. Will Isabelle stay with the royal family, or will she choose to side with the revolutionaries, as her brother did?
The Lacemaker and the Princess is a sensitive, touching portrait of life just before the French Revolution, and the author does an excellent job of portraying both sides sympathetically, and making the reader feel for Isabelle, who is torn between two different worlds. She also brings the court of Versailles magnificently to life: we experience the fancy balls and elaborate ceremonies along with the heroine. Ages 8-12.