BN.com Gift Guide

Dancing to the Precipice: The Life of Lucie de la Tour du Pin, Eyewitness to an Era [NOOK Book]

Overview

Her canvases were the court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette; the Great Terror; America at the time of Washington and Jefferson; Paris under the Directoire and then under Napoleon; Regency London; the battle of Waterloo; and, for the last years of her life, the Italian ducal courts. Like Saint-Simon at Versailles, Samuel Pepys during the Great Fire of London, or the Goncourt brothers in nineteenth-century France, Lucie Dillon—a daughter of French and British nobility known in France by her married name, Lucie de...

See more details below
Dancing to the Precipice: The Life of Lucie de la Tour du Pin, Eyewitness to an Era

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$11.99
BN.com price

Overview

Her canvases were the court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette; the Great Terror; America at the time of Washington and Jefferson; Paris under the Directoire and then under Napoleon; Regency London; the battle of Waterloo; and, for the last years of her life, the Italian ducal courts. Like Saint-Simon at Versailles, Samuel Pepys during the Great Fire of London, or the Goncourt brothers in nineteenth-century France, Lucie Dillon—a daughter of French and British nobility known in France by her married name, Lucie de la Tour du Pin—was the chronicler of her age.

La Rochefoucauld called her "a cultural jewel." The Sultan of the Ottoman Empire favored her for his dinner companion in Paris. Napoleon requested she attend Josephine. Her friends included Talleyrand, Madame de Staël, Chateaubriand, Lafayette, and the Duke of Wellington, with whom she played as a child. She witnessed firsthand the demise of the French monarchy, the wave of Revolution and the Reign of Terror, and the precipitous rise and fall of Napoleon. She spent two years as an émigré in the newly independent United States (on a farm in Albany) but was also a familiar of Regency London. A shrewd, determined woman in a turbulent age of men, Lucie de la Tour du Pin watched, listened, reflected—and wrote it all down, mixing politics and court intrigue, social observation and the realities of everyday existence, to offer a fascinating chronicle of her era.

In this compelling biography, Caroline Moorehead illuminates the extraordinary life and remarkable achievements of this strong, witty, elegant, opinionated, and dynamic woman who survived personal tragedy, including the loss of six children, and periods of extreme danger, exile, poverty, and illness. Meticulously researched, brilliantly written, and vastly entertaining, Moorehead's chronicle of Lucie's life is an incomparable social history of her times.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Brenda Wineapple
…absorbing…documents with stylistic elan and meticulous detail a reeling period of French history, from the ludicrous court of Louis XVI to the Revolution of 1789 and the dictatorship of Napoleon, itself followed by the speedy restoration and deposition of Bourbon kings. Drawing on de la Tour du Pin's memoirs and previously unseen family papers, the author narrates this wrenching history mostly from the perspective of its central figure, who was an "eyewitness to an era."
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Educated to wait on Marie Antoinette, the marquise Lucie de la Tour du Pin (1770-1853) instead precariously survived a devastating revolution, an emperor, two restorations and a republic. Drawing on Lucie's memoirs and those of her contemporaries, Moorehead (Gellhorn) uses Lucie's descriptions of both personal events and the ever-changing French political atmosphere to portray the nobility's awkward shifts with each new event and the impact they have on Lucie and her diplomat husband, Fréédric. A woman with both court-honed aristocratic manners and rough farm skills (earned in the Revolution's wake during her rural New York exile), Lucie benefited from passing platonic relationships with Napoleon and Wellington, Talleyrand, and countless salon personalities. Lucie's terror during the anarchy of the Revolution remains palpable in her memoirs centuries later. Moorehead obviously admires Lucie, but she gives a convincing and entertaining portrait of an intelligent, shrewd, unpretentious woman and the turbulent times she lived through and testified to in her memoirs. 16 pages of b&w photos, 19 illus. throughout.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

The exceptional Henriette Lucie Dillon, Marquise de la Tour du Pin Gouvernet (1770-1853) has long deserved a competent biographer, and Moorehead (Gellhorn: A Twentieth-Century Life) does her justice. The marquise's Journal d'une Femme de Cinquante Ans, 1778-1815 is considered one of the best first-person accounts available of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic era and is still in print. While Moorehead relies heavily on these memoirs, she also uses additional primary sources to flesh out the nearly 50 years (1815-53) not covered by Lucie's memoirs and places Lucie within the context of an émigré culture that grew out of the radicalization of the French Revolution. Born to the French aristocracy, Lucie was equally comfortable at the opulent court of Versailles and the back country of upstate New York. She and her family were forced to flee France four times during the revolutionary era. Her father and father-in-law lost their heads to the guillotine, she had several miscarriages, and most of her children did not reach adulthood, but through it all she remained resilient, compassionate, and observant. An outstanding choice for general readers.
—Jim Doyle

Kirkus Reviews
The sensational story of a woman whose enduring spirit encapsulates one of the most dynamic periods of modern European history. Drawing on a detailed memoir and boxes of letters, historian and biographer Moorehead (Human Cargo: A Journey Among Refugees, 2005, etc.) re-creates the tumultuous life of Lucie Dillon. Raised by her unhappy and spiteful grandmother, Lucie quickly developed into a resourceful, level-headed girl. These qualities would prove indispensable as she entered adulthood and faced the many dangers and challenges of 18th-century Europe. Still in her teens when she married Frederic de la Tour du Pin, Lucie was thrust into a whirlwind of salons, fashion, gossip and royal etiquette, mingling with the likes of Marie Antoinette, Talleyrand and Lafayette. The young woman earned their adoration and respect as she grew into her role as an elegant hostess and wife. As political tumult grew around her, she was forced to flee France and forge a new identity as an emigre. For the remainder of her days, her intrepid character would see her through the reigns of Robespierre and Napoleon; exiles in America, England, Belgium and Italy; the death of five of her children; and periods of extreme hardship and poverty. Throughout decades of uncertainty, the one enduring element was her husband, with whom she shared nearly 50 years of marriage, and who on his death bed extolled her "bottomless reserves of courage." Moorehead deftly navigates a dizzying cast of characters, locations and events, allowing Lucie's "precise, cool eye" and discerning wit to shine through. Sumptuous account of Revolutionary Europe.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061887529
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/30/2009
  • Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 301,045
  • File size: 927 KB

Meet the Author

Caroline Moorehead is the New York Times bestselling author of A Train in Winter and Human Cargo: A Journey Among Refugees, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. An acclaimed biographer of Martha Gellhorn, Bertrand Russell, and Lucie de la Tour du Pin, among others, Moorehead has also written for the Telegraph, the Times, and the Independent. She lives in London and Italy.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Characters in the book

Foreword 1

1 This Magnificent Age 5

2 A Talent for Deception 27

3 A Sparkling Picture 44

4 The Colour of Hope 77

5 The Dismantling of Paris 102

6 Deep and Dark Shades 124

7 Standing on a Vast Volcano 144

8 Heads Falling like Tiles 169

9 Mrs Latour from the Old Country 195

10 Incroyables and Merveilleuses 229

11 Hordes of Vagabond French 248

12 Toothless Dogs and Clawless Cats 276

13 Not a Court, but a Power 308

14 Oh Unhappy France! 339

15 Embarking on a Career of Grief 366

16 A Pocket Tyranny 381

17 A Warm Heart 404

18 The Rhapsodies of Life 430

Afterword 435

Acknowledgements 437

Bibliography 439

Source notes 445

Time line 463

Index 467

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 12 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(6)

4 Star

(3)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 – 14 of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 5, 2009

    An excellent read!

    The book not only provides insight into the life of Lucie de la Tour du Pin, but also to the plight of the French aristocracy in the years subsequent to the fall of Louis XVI. While certainly not sympathetic to the aristocracy as a whole, it lays out how profoundly their sheltered world was shattered and how various people reacted.

    With regard to Lucie, I had never heard of her before reading this book. I discovered she was really quite influential in her own way and exhibited the strength of character and leadership commonly found in women in an age when women were not highly regarded. The myth of woman as the weaker sex is once again exposed in Lucie. Despite all the tragedy that occured in her life, her story is ulitmately an uplifting one and you come away wishing you could have known her personally.

    We are taught "Big History." We know all the major events that profoundly impacted nations and people (e.g. Pearl Harbor). However "little history" really reveals life at its fullest in the various epochs of history. This books is a shining addition to the little history of France in what was a very turbulent time for the nation.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 3, 2009

    An gripping eyewitness history of France from Marie Antoinette to Napoleon. An unbelievably courageous story.

    Lucie de la Tour du Pin was the Zelig of her of the late 18th - early 19th century in France and Belgium, Holland, London, and Albany NY where she lived on a farm and entertained Talleyrand. Raised to be a lady in waiting to Marie Antoinette she would become known for her sewing and her ability to make butter in the back woods of New York state- of course with the family crest imprinted on top. This biography, availing its-self of Mme. de la Tour du Pin's diaries and her later letters brings the era alive as few books on the revolution have ever done. The last second kindnesses of many in Revolutionary and Directoire France saved Lucie and her beloved Frederic more than once, leaving the reader breathless as the ship sails off. Married to Frederic for nearly fifty years they endured much together including the loss of 6 children and many friends. They kept going, never gave up, and in the end, a story that has to be read to be believed. Ms. Moorehead is to commended for creating such an outstanding work. She is clearly biassed toward her subject, but then, who wouldn't be. Certainly a candidate for the Pulitzer in Biography.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 17, 2012

    Behind the scenes at the start of the modern world

    This is a take on the Ancien Regime, and the decades following its demise that is different from most of what we read. It shows the real life, rather than larger than life, consequences and personalities that went through Versailles, the Terror, and all that followed from the fall of the Bastille, including Napoleon and the Restoration years. Whether it means to or not, it sheds light on the consequences we still have with us today--including the 1% here and elsewhere.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 19, 2009

    Dancing on the precipice

    An excellent book. Give a good look a life in the late 18th and early 19 th century. recommended for anyone who enjoys history.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 24, 2011

    highly recommended

    This was requested, so I gave it as a gift. The recipient really enjoyed this book & gives it 5 Stars!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 – 14 of 12 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)