A veteran biographer of French Imperial royalty, the Baroness de Stoeckl at ninety-two has turned back to the opulence of the eighteenth century and produced a life of the beautiful prostitute who succeeded Madame de Pompadour as official mistress to Louis XV. Emphasis is on ""the human side"" as du Barry rises, struggling for acceptance at court, and falls, until the revolutionaries lead her screaming and fighting, to the guillotine. The author is lavish with description, generous in her sympathy for du Barry and the lovers she took after the King's death, not greatly interested in the other characters. Her swift eyewitness style hustles the reader past trite adjectives, incredible punctuation, censure of the ""brutal hordes."" First-rate melodrama; too superficial to replace the standard biographies.