FEAR NO MORE by Hester W. Chapman


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Hester Chapman steadily commutes between fiction and non-fiction and sometimes her biographies read more like novels (a criticism made of Lady Jane Grey). In the case of the little ""lost"" Dauphin, there are so few certainties and so many speculations that only a historical novel, which this is, seems justified. The story here opens with the death of Charles' brother Louis-Joseph when Charles, then seven, becomes Louis and the heir apparent and it seems unnecessary to retrace the road lined with heads on pikes and strident calumnies from Paris to the Tuileries to the guillotine. Miss Chapman's most inventive scenes, as nearly as could be checked, deal with the child's relationship with Colin, his former groom, who alternates interrogative questions (re Marie Antoinette and Fersen, primarily) with their ""secret game"" -- kisses and some suggested sexual dalliance with deleterious effects. He of course is the one who in advancing himself does so at the expense of the Royal Family. The boy's last weeks with the cobbler Simon, and his wasting fevers are more conventional, and there are sad scenes throughout--leading to the end when ""Liberty or Death"" become one and the same.... With the unfailing susceptibility of this story, any variant version is welcome and Miss Chapman handles it with experienced capability.

Pub Date: Nov. 18th, 1968
Publisher: Morrow-Reynal