The Wardrobe Mistress

Written by Meghan Masterson
Review by Patrick McGrath

Giselle Aubry, the newest wardrobe mistress in Marie Antoinette’s household, has her uncle, Pierre de Beaumarchais, to thank for her coveted position. However, as an ex-spy for Louis XV, Pierre has planted his niece at Versailles for his own reasons. When Giselle meets Leon Gauvain, a watchmaker’s apprentice and budding revolutionary, she is torn between two worlds: the heady and luxurious rooms of the queen, and the equally exhilarating streets of Paris, which are teeming with new ideas and opportunities for the lower classes.

Spying at first seems a harmless game to Giselle, but she soon begins to suspect her uncle’s motives. As her relationship with Leon develops, as does her fondness for the queen, she finds herself in an impossible triangle with events moving quickly. This story covers several major events from the French Revolution, including the storming of the Bastille, the Reveillon riot, the massacre of the Champs de Mars, and Louis XVI’s escape attempt. Madame Campan and the Marquis de Lafayette are two supporting characters that readers will identify as true figures from the era. The story is fast-paced and provides a satisfying view of the Revolution from the perspective of the Third Estate.

Where this novel falls short is the characterization of the protagonist. Its intended audience is without a doubt, owing to the verbose sex scenes, adult women. Giselle, however, is a flighty, hormone-driven teenager who makes rather questionable decisions. Without the love scenes, this novel would fall into the YA category but, as is, should be relegated to the historical romance genre. Unnecessary foreshadowing and modern terminology further mar the narrative, but those looking for a quick, light read (with romance) will enjoy its abridged account of the French Revolution.