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Memoirs: dancing our way to the precipice

Madame de la Tour du Pin

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ISBN 10: 186046548X / ISBN 13: 9781860465482
Published by Harvill, 1999
Used Condition: Good Soft cover
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Shaker Mill Books
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About this Item

Colorful wraps are lightly soiled from handing; some creasing & rubbing to edges. Pages are firmly bound; unmarked. Bookseller Inventory # WS12573

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Memoirs: dancing our way to the precipice

Publisher: Harvill

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Soft cover

Book Condition: Good

Book Type: Book

About this title


'A story of a simple but straightforward woman, caught up in the complications of the French Revolution' Economist Madame de la Tour du Pin was born Henrietta-Lucy Dillon in Paris in 1770. An aristocrat, she spent her youth surrounded by wealth and luxury. In regular attendance at Marie Antoinette's Sunday courts, she was, by her own account, 'outstanding in any gathering', rivalling even the Queen in beauty. At the age of 16 she is given curtseying lessons by her dancing master and is hastily married to the future Marquis de la Tour du Pin. A life of pleasure-seeking and extravagance begins, but is rudely cut short by the storming of the Bastille. Written for her only surviving child, this intimate record of her life recounts the terrible fate that awaited all those who attended the Court of Louis XVI during the years of the French Revolution. Throughout France appears the terrifying silhouette of a rival Madame - Madame Guillotine - and, because of her beauty, Madame de la Tour du Pin is frequently prey to the now deadly compliment of being mistaken for the Queen. When the king is executed, she flees Paris to travel round France, only to discover that her many properties have been plundered. When it becomes too dangerous to remain on native soil she leaves for Holland - thence to America and to England - in search of a new life, but her heart remains in Paris, whither eventually she returns, a dispossessed emigre. Written with great intelligence, compassion and wit, the Memoirs of Madame de la Tour du Pin provide us with a uniquely female perspective on the French Revolution. It is a valuable historical document, made all the more affecting by the author's sense of a bright and beautiful world cruelly snatched away by the forces of history.


Henrietta-Lucy Dillon was born in 1770 to an aristocratic French family, in the heyday of the glittering ancien régime. She was witty, beautiful, and brilliant; her parents soon had her married off to the Marquis de la Tour du Pin. She had been told before she met him that he was short and ugly, but upon their first meeting, as she politely says, "I did not find him so."

Such restraint and simplicity is typical of Madame de la Tour du Pin's memoirs. Living through the most turbulent period in modern history, she frankly and unaffectedly records what went on around her--the execution of many of her aristocratic friends; her own flight to Holland, England, America; her last years in Italy; the deaths of her husband and her daughter before her own at the great age of 83. She has few opinions and no resentments, and one quickly warms to her simply as a woman, wife, and mother struggling to survive in a hostile world. And her observations on some of the great figures of history are priceless. Take "I also met a very famous man, Mr Gibbon, whose appearance was so ridiculous it was difficult not to laugh," her sole comment upon the author of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. --Christopher Hart,

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Shaker Mill Books is the annex of The Bookloft in Great Barrington, MA, one of the only independent bookstores in the Berkshires for over 35 years. Located in West Stockbridge, MA, Shaker Mill Books houses nearly ten thousand rare, out-of-print and/or signed books. We specialize in Berskhire Books (many now out-of-print or otherwise unavailable), including local histories and biographies, as well as a large collection of books by nature writer Hal Borland.

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