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The Lacemaker and the Princess
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Bradley (For Freedom) gives readers a glimpse of the overwhelming poverty the French people suffered before the French Revolution and juxtaposes it with the luxuries enjoyed by their royals. Eleven-year-old Isabelle lives with her mother and grand-mere in poverty, eking out a meager living by making lace; her older brother, George, supplies a few coins from his job as a palace stable hand. One day, Isabelle delivers a piece of lace intended for the Princess of Lamballe and literally runs into Queen Marie Antoinette. She is introduced to Princess Therese, who desires Isabelle to be her playmate, thus beginning a somewhat odd friendship and Isabelle's dual life. In the morning she helps her mother and grand-mere make lace; in the afternoon she lives a fairy-tale life. As Isabelle becomes more involved with palace life, George forces her to see the growing unrest caused by the king and queen's lavish spending and scant regard for the peasants. Fans of historical fiction will enjoy the numerous details about Louis, Marie Antoinette and Versailles that are neatly woven into the story and will be further be drawn into Isabelle's adventure as she flees the palace as it is attacked by angry peasants, thus ushering in the French Revolution. Ages 8-12. (May) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Gr 5-7-Isabelle Bonnard is an 11-year-old lacemaker living near the palace of Versailles. One day, while delivering lace to the palace, she is discovered by Marie Antoinette and taken to be a companion to the queen's young daughter. Therese provides her with all the luxuries of court life, but Isabelle is torn between her loyalties to her new friend and to her barely surviving mother and grandmother at home. As threats against the royal family increase, Isabelle sees the unfolding drama through her fresh and increasingly less naive eyes. The author vividly evokes the appalling lack of sanitary facilities, the crowds of vagrants and hangers-on overrunning the palace, the differences within the French social classes, and Louis XVI's fatal dithering when confronted with the National Guard. Isabelle's brother, a groom in the Marquis de Lafayette's stables, supplies the revolutionary perspective. This richly detailed story provides a sympathetic, well-balanced view of this period. An author's note reinforces the credibility of Isabelle's "adoption" by the royal family. A fascinating and well-researched look at 18th-century France.-Quinby Frank, Green Acres School, Rockville, MD Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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