Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Royal Likeness

Marie-Antoinette by Madame Tussaud
Amid all the historical fiction about aristocrats and royalty it is interesting to find novels which bring to life the world of trade. Contrary to the widespread misconception, women did indeed "work" long before the feminist revolution of the 1960's and 70's; in fact, there have always been women who ran businesses, working in shops and  at various crafts. Christine Trent's first novel, The Queen's Dollmaker, describes the art of doll-making while her second, A Royal Likeness, ventures into the unique climate of the waxworks museum. Marguerite Ashby, a young widow trying to struggle out of a quicksand of tragic events, finds a new life working with the famous Madame Tussaud, and soon becomes involved in intrigues beyond her wildest dreams.  

A Royal Likeness is exceedingly entertaining for the action-filled and highly romantic storyline as well as the detailed portrayals of early nineteenth century London, Dublin and Edinburgh. The descriptions of what happened on a British warship before, during and after a battle were of great fascination for me; I had no idea that the sailors spread sand on the deck before battle and removed their shoes and boots so they would not slip in the blood. The reader is meticulously led through the particulars of the process of creating a wax image while meeting many of the celebrities of the day. The characters of Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton are particularly well-drawn. Overall, I was impressed with the amount of research that went into creating A Royal Likeness with minutiae which could only have come from visiting the original venues. Anyone who enjoys learning while being regaled with a colorful tale must read this book.

I also must applaud Christine Trent for creating yet another heroine who is a virtuous woman but by no means boring or stuffy. Marguerite is witty and spirited yet she holds goodness and integrity in high regard. In spite of her sea-sickness and recurring headaches she always finds herself in the midst if the action. Likewise, the hero of the story is a man devoted to duty and protecting the honor of his sweetheart, in the manner of the heroes of the celebrated Miss Austen. I would heartily recommend A Royal Likeness to readers both young and old, with the warning that once you get drawn into the book it is difficult to put it down.

More HERE.

(*NOTE: A Royal Likeness was sent to me by the author in exchange for my honest opinion.)



tubbs said...

I gaze at this likeness of the martyred queen, and the melody from the movie "Somewhere in Time" haunts me.

lara77 said...

I cannot keep my eyes off the likeness of Queen Marie Antoinette; it is almost mesmerizing. Thank you for sharing this article.

Brantigny said...

In the picture she looks like her mother, as many women do. I see the strength of Marie-Therese. Say being a Queen is a job too, right?

Forward Boldly said...

Beautiful woman.