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Mistress of the Revolution

Mistress of the Revolution

4.2 23
by Catherine Delors

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An impoverished noblewoman, Gabrielle de Montserrat is only fifteen when she meets her first love, a commoner named Pierre-André Coffinhal. But her brother forbids their union, forcing her instead to marry an aging, wealthy cousin.

Widowed and a mother before the age of twenty, Gabrielle arrives at the court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette in time to be


An impoverished noblewoman, Gabrielle de Montserrat is only fifteen when she meets her first love, a commoner named Pierre-André Coffinhal. But her brother forbids their union, forcing her instead to marry an aging, wealthy cousin.

Widowed and a mother before the age of twenty, Gabrielle arrives at the court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette in time to be swept up in the emerging turbulence—and to encounter the man she never expected to see again. Determined and independent, she strives to find her own freedom— as the Revolution takes an ever more violent turn.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Against the backdrop of the leadup to the French Revolution, Delors's mostly successful debut follows the life of Gabrielle de Montserrat, a feisty young woman forced by her meddling brother to forsake her commoner true love and marry the Baron de Peyre, a wealthy, older man. The baron is abusive and cruel, but the short-lived marriage produces a daughter before the baron dies. A widowed Gabrielle travels to Paris and enters the heady world of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, where, with a sparse inheritance and the responsibility of a young daughter, Gabrielle becomes the mistress of Count de Villers. Delors shines in her portrayal of the late 18th-century French women's world (she has a rougher time with the men), though the amount of political-historical detail covered overshadows the tragic love story that develops once Gabrielle reunites with her first love, Pierre-André Coffinhal, who is now a lawyer. The appearance of historical figures sometimes comes off awkwardly (as when Gabrielle meets Thomas Jefferson or has a private audience with Robespierre), and the ending is marred by a too-convenient and seemingly tossed-off twist. Nevertheless, the author ably captures the vagaries of French politics during turbulent times and creates a world inhabited by nicely developed and sympathetic characters. (Mar.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
A noblewoman suffers several close brushes with the guillotine during the French Revolution in this debut novel from Delors. Gabrielle, from a noble family in Auvergne, sees her ancestral chateau for the first time at age 11, after she's removed from convent boarding school by her brother, the Marquis de Montserrat. Her mother, whom she hardly knows, is cold and hypercritical, and as Gabrielle matures, her brother makes incestuous overtures to her. While visiting her former wet nurse, a peasant woman, Gabrielle falls in love with Pierre-Andre, a young doctor. The Marquis forbids her to wed Pierre-Andre because he is a commoner. Instead, when she turns 15, her family forces her to marry middle-aged Baron de Peyre, who proves a volatile, brutal husband. When he dies suddenly, leaving Gabrielle a pittance, she flees with daughter Aimee to Paris, where she finds refuge with a distant cousin, a duchess who introduces her to the court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Gabrielle becomes the mistress of the Count de Villers, who keeps her in grand style but often displays a cruel streak. When the Revolution begins, and Villers is killed defending the Tuileries Palace, Gabrielle is imprisoned, but acquitted by a peoples' court. Meanwhile, Pierre-Andre, now a lawyer, has become an influential magistrate under the new regime, and remains so throughout the various power shifts of the Revolution, while his contemporaries are losing their heads. Gabrielle seeks his help in procuring identity documents falsifying her aristocratic past, and the two rekindle their romance. Gabrielle is again arrested when her employer, whose advances she spurns, informs on her. Pierre-Andre secures her release andobtains his mentor Robespierre's blessings for the relationship. But a sudden reversal of Robespierre's political fortunes leaves Pierre-Andre and Gabrielle at the mob's mercy. Delors, who was born in France, writes competently in English, but at times her prose reads like a stilted translation. The Revolution's successive upheavals form an engrossing backdrop to Gabrielle's predicament, but she's too timid a protagonist to command center stage. Agent: Stephanie Cabot/The Gernert Company

Product Details

Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.32(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.51(d)
Age Range:
18 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Catherine Delors is a lawyer and, descended from a family of French aristocrats herself, was born and raised in France.

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Mistress of the Revolution 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutely adored this book. Once you get passed the violence and the vivid details of the pain inflicted upon those of the aristocracy, the author does a wonderful job of establishing her characters and the connections made between those that shared in the events of the French Revolution. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I really enjoyed hearing about the Revolution from a first person point of view. I hope you enjoy the book!
Britlitfanatic More than 1 year ago
I absolutly love French and British literature of all kinds. I have always loved the likes of Phillipa Gregory, but Catherine Delors truly captured my interests like no other. Her characters were overwhelmingly believable as well as their circumstances. The details were graphic and transported you to that time. In the end I truly mourned the ones lost as well as lost love.
lph More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed following the book and it was great for bedtime reading. It is not hardcore historically based but I think the author captured the feeling and flavor of the times with this novel based during the French Revolution. It would recommend this book to anyone who likes a little romance mixed with history.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In the mid 1780s fifteen year old aristocrat Gabrielle de Montserrat and commoner Pierre-André Coffinhal meet and fall in love. However, her older brother rejects such a union as Pierre is beneath their lofty social status. Instead he forces his younger sister to marry the much older, wealthy, and abusive Baron de Peyre. He is cruel to his young wife; so when he dies after Gabrielle gives birth to a daughter she rejoices.

The teen widow and single mom Gabrielle arrives at the court of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie-Antoinette. There she becomes the mistress of Count de Villers. However, soon after her arrival, the Revolution explodes in Paris. Gabrielle is arrested and faces the wrath of the Revolutionary Tribunal where lawyer Pierre-Andre, still outraged by the Montserrat scorn several years ago sits in judgment and Lady Guillotine awaits in the open for her.

Though the underlying theme is a bittersweet love story, MISTRESS OF THE REVOLUTION is much more as the plot contains a deep look at the political intrigue and machinations with the Guillotine hovering for rumored missteps stealing the show. Catherine Delors has written a strong French Revolution Era historical as Gabrielle is a great protagonist who holds the plot together while the key men in her life provide a profound look at what society allows them to do to a woman before, during, and after the Revolution; nothing changes for the second class female. Her encounters with the major historical figures circa 1789 seems unnecessary and distractingly forced yet fans of historical tales will relish Gabrielle¿s adventures to avoid a date with Lady Guillotine.

Harriet Klausner
EVKendall More than 1 year ago
I fell in love with this book. It's a long read over five hundred pages but I found that I devoured it in a short time. Gabrielle de Montserrat is such a sweet and lovable character. Her story starts out typically, a girl on the verge of womanhood looking forward to finding her way in life, husband, home and family. She falls in love with a commoner, Pierre-Andre Coffinhal, and together with his family they petition her brother and Lord the Marquis de Casel to marry. Outraged, her brother forbids the match and instead forces Gabrielle to marry another man. Her life unfolds in shocking experiences, one after the next. I was constantly wondering what in God's name could happen to this poor girl next! Some suggest her character to be weak and blow like a sailboat on the whim of the wind but I suggest that she is the most resilient of characters in that she was able to find her way through each ghastly circumstance and prevail and thrive in her own way. I will always remember this story and recommended it to my friends and family.
HistoricalFictionFan More than 1 year ago
I am an avid historical fiction novel reader. I loved this novel and ended up crying my eyes out by the end of the book. Although parts of it are gruesome, it is a story of determination and survival during the French Revolution. Enjoy!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is first and foremost an exquisite exercise in the intertwining of details, all true to the period, most arising from in the historic record, for which the author's website reveals that she relied heavily on original sources such as 18th century memoirs and actual trial transcripts, and the rest coming to life in the intersticies. The character development is so subtle, a line here or there, but soon each is alive and at once haunting. The author quotes Alain Jouffroy at the beginning: 'It is beautiful to meet someone. It can happen anywhere in the world. Anytime, But the strangest thing is that one does not only meet the living, and that meeting a dead person can change your life.' This is not, however, a novel for the feint of heart, going from wisps of detail of happy every day life to abject terror. With that caution, go forth and experience life.
Anonymous 6 months ago
If it were possible to give a no star review that is what I would give this horribly written book that rating. The writing was dull and plodding. The characters had no spark at all. My advice is do not buy this book!
palomaci More than 1 year ago
An easy read and with good pace never too slow. I enjoy the historical accounts of the momentous events of the French Revolution. I was also happy that the story was not predictable, I was left wondering what would happen next to the protagonist.  
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Guest More than 1 year ago
The book is based upon true events of the French Revolution. Many of the characters are inspired by historical figures. The story centers on Gabrielle de Montserrat, born of noble blood. Her mistake was to fall in love with a commoner, Pierre-Andrè Coffinhal. Throughout the story, I tingled with excitement as I thought I knew what was going to happen next. This was all a vain attempt on my part, as the author surprised me with each new twist. Gabrielle¿s story is a fictional memoir, told in her own voice as she recounts her life beginning when her brother and guardian, Gèraud de Monsterrat, Marquis de Castel, brought her to live with him. Later on in the story, after meeting and falling in love with Pierre-Andrè Coffinhal, her brother finds out and she is forced into a marriage with a sadistic husband. Her life has many phases, one of which will lead her to Paris where she will again meet Pierre-Andrè. During this time, France is unstable, on the brink of political and social upheaval. The decisions she made seemed the best at the time, but even towards the end, she wondered what would have happened if she had decided differently. It¿s something I am still pondering over. The author should be commended her display of realism. This book took me so far into the story that I completely forgot about my own life. Luckily, we are on spring break and I have some free time. Oh, let me warn you now, although it might be tempting to read the last few chapter to see what will happen in the end, DON'T! I am one to talk since that is what I usually do. For some reason, I didn¿t in this book. I guess I was so busy reading that I forgot. Anyway, I¿m glad I didn't as it will ruin the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one woman's story set against the coming of the French Revolution, Gabrielle meets her one true love at the age of 15, but is forced to marry another, a mean spiteful man that beats her. When she is older, she becomes a Mistress of a wealthy man and, meets up again, with her one true love, but it is not yet their time to be together. The French Revolution is upon her and she reaches out to her one true love, and the happiness they find together for whatever time may be left to them amid all the chaos of the French Revolution. A wonderful book of historical fiction.