THE GRAND MADEMOISELLE by Francis Steegmuller
Kirkus Star


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Report repeated from the September 15th bulletin, when scheduled for fall, as follows: ""Quite a touching biography is this, our only full length one of Anne Marie Louise d'Orleans, whose position at the court of Louis XIV had its historical ironies. It also gains stature from Mr. Steegmuller's skill as a writer and as a devoted student of France. Born the daughter of Gaston d'Orleans, younger brother to Louis XIII, Mademoiselle was destined to be a figure of importance at a time when names, politics and marriage meant everything. Despite the dire frustrations which were to come, Mademoiselle, as she was officially know, had a happy childhood and, in sum, a rich life. She was a remarkably straightforward person and held, by a sincere sense of family obligation rather than any wish for power, to the selfish political scrambling around her. Kept in readiness for the politically right husband until she was forty, Mademoiselle finally met and fell in love with Lauzun, a captain in the King's dragoons, and was almost- but not quite- allowed to marry him. ""Why did you give me time to change my mind?"" wept Louis XIV when he summoned her to say that marrying Lauzun would seem to give an underling an uncalled for advantage. Blow followed blow thereafter. Lauzun was imprisoned but he was set free, changed for the worse and no longer the person to whom Mademoiselle could turn for understanding. Much of Mr. Steegmuller's account is taken from Mademoiselle's richly rewarding diary which she kept from the time she was twenty-five, and his work is another valuable revelation of the period.

Publisher: Farrar, Straus