The Lacemaker and the Princess by Kimberly Brubacker Bradley
Genre: Middle Grade, historical fiction
Published on May 22, 2007
Published by Margaret K. McElderry
Read From: 9.8.12 - 9.9.12
Eleven-year-old Isabelle is a lacemaker in the town of Versailles. One day as she delivers lace to the palace, she is almost trampled by a crowd of courtiers - only to be rescued by Marie Antoinette. Before Isabelle can believe it, she has a new job - companion to the queen's daughter. Isabelle is given a fashionable name, fashionable dresses - a new identity. At home she plies her needle under her grandmother's disapproving eye. At the palace she is playmate to the princess.
Thrown into a world of luxury, Isabelle is living a fairy-tale life. But this facade begins to crumble when rumors of starvation in the countryside lead to whispers of revolution. How can Isabelle reconcile the ugly things she hears in the town with the kind family she knows in the palace? And which side is she truly on?
Cover Blurb: It isn’t anything remarkable, though for a historical fiction fan like myself, it caught my attention well enough.
What I Liked: Isabelle is an intelligent protagonist, who bravely struggles against her own wants when it comes to the needs of her family. She’s a very selfless girl, whose dedication to her family is admirable.
What I Disliked: I tried to feel sorry for Theresa, but she was just a little too bratty to gain my full sympathies, and I failed to see why Isabelle continued to consider Theresa as a “true friend.” She seemed intentionally blind to Theresa’s faults because Isabelle was too enamored with the life she led when in the princess’s company.
Believability: The contrast between Isabelle’s and Theresa’s lives is done very well. Theresa doesn’t think about the richness of a large dinner and silver spoons and expensive clothes, while Isabelle is completely awed at it all. But I’m not convinced that Isabelle would really pay all that much attention to the stench of Versailles - everywhere smelled, after all; I imagine people got used to it. The Author also never mentions Robespierre, which I found a little odd, considering his role in the French Revolution, nor does she talk about how Socialist the Revolution’s ideals were. She makes it sound like they wanted the exact same thing that the Americans did, which isn’t the case.
Writing Style: It was pleasing; not too modern, and not too old-fashioned. In-text translations of the French was a little sloppy at times, but for the most past wasn’t too bad.
Conclusion: The book ends right where an interesting story begins: Isabelle’s escape from France. As much as I enjoyed this book, I think this would have been a more intriguing storyline, and I’m sorry that the Author cuts the book off right then.
Recommended Audience: Historical fiction fans, more of a girl-read than a guy-read due to the rather copious amount of clothing descriptions and girlishness of the characters. Appropriate for any age.