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 Frédéric 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 émigré. 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.