Travel back to 18th Century France in The Queen’s Dressmaker by Meghan Masterson, a historical novel based on true events.
Thank you to Sarah Hardy and Bookouture for inviting me to take part in the book tour for The Queen’s Dressmaker and giving me a free copy in return for an honest review.
Giselle is Marie Antoinette’s newest under-tirewomen, looking after the Queen’s wardrobe. However, revolution has come to France, and the violent protests are becoming more and more widespread across the country. On a visit home to her family in Paris, Giselle experiences one of these riots first-hand. Fortunately, Léon comes to her aid, and they fall in love. Unfortunately, he is also a revolutionary. Can their love survive Giselle’s mixed loyalties?
I was super excited to read The Queen’s Dressmaker as I am a huge fan of anything relating to Marie Antoinette and the French Revolution, and it certainly didn’t disappoint me!
It begins in February 1789 and continues all the way through to October 1793. Due to Giselle’s role in the Royal household, we see life from two very unique perspectives which I loved. The first is inside the household, and I loved all of the vivid descriptions of the gowns, fashions and finery. While Giselle only has a few direct conversations with the Queen herself, she overhears some of her conversations. She also experiences some dramatic events first-hand, such as the Women’s March on Versailles. This was all so well-written and I felt the tension and fear for the Royal family’s life.
The second perspective is Giselle’s home life back in Paris. We learn a lot about the struggles that ordinary people are experiencing, such as the high price of bread. I could completely understand Giselle’s internal struggles about where her loyalties lie, with the queen or with the revolutionaries while she is torn between the two worlds.
Giselle is a great character and I warmed to her straight away! As a fellow chatty person, I very much related to her struggles to follow Palace etiquette. I also really liked the romance between Giselle and Léon. Their chance meeting is very sweet and I could feel the romantic sparks straight away! I liked Léon immediately and was rooting for the young couple throughout the book.
The whole story had me utterly captivated from start to finish. It’s brilliantly written, and seemed to perfectly convey the confusion and fear in violent situations. Even though you know what will happen in the end, I was still left rooting for the Royal family. Megan does a fantastic job of making Marie Antoinette a sympathetic character, showing her human side that her servants would have known. And I shared Giselle’s horror at the aftermath of the Palace, once it has been ransacked by rioters — again, this was written so well and so vividly. I also don’t think you need much historical knowledge of the French Revolution as Meghan explains it all so well and without it feeling like a lecture. This is such a fantastic read, and one I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to fans of historical fiction!
The blurb for The Queen’s Dressmaker
One woman must choose between loyalty to her queen and the man she loves…
Giselle always dreamed of making beautiful dresses, but never thought she would be chosen to attend to the elegant, but troubled, queen of France, Marie Antoinette. Within the glittering, mirrored walls of the palace, Giselle ensures the queen shines brighter than anyone, with not a single feather or ruffle out of place, no matter how she might feel inside.
Being so close to the queen, Giselle is there for her most private and unguarded moments. As whispers spread through the court about the violent protests sweeping across the country and the growing threat to the royal family, Giselle sees the cracks in Marie Antoinette’s perfect image.
On a visit home to her family in Paris, Giselle experiences the troubles first-hand, getting caught up in a dangerous riot. When handsome Léon comes to her aid, she falls in love with this kind, clever young man. But Léon does not share her admiration for the royals, siding with those who believe they should no longer be in power.
Returning to the palace, Giselle is shocked to find the very lives of the royal family now at stake. Marie Antoinette appeals to her to help them escape France and Giselle faces a heart-wrenching choice. Will Giselle risk the guillotine herself to save the life of her beloved queen? And can she do so without betraying the man she loves?
Based on true events, this is an absolutely gripping historical novel of loyalty, betrayal, power and passion. Fans of Les Misérables, Girl with a Pearl Earring and My Dear Hamilton will be totally swept away by this heart-breaking page-turner.
Previously published as The Wardrobe Mistress.
About the author, Meghan Masterson
Meghan Masterson graduated from the University of Calgary with an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Communications Studies, and has worked several unrelated jobs while writing on the side. When not writing, Meghan can often be found reading at all hours (even at breakfast), practicing archery and roaming through the woods with her dog.