To tell her story, her relationship with her family and the Queen, Bertin uses mostly unpublished documents and articles taken from the newspapers of the day. The biography is thus full of interesting but little-known anecdotes about the Princess. However, the portrayal of the Princess that comes out of the book is not unbiased. Bertin justly stresses that Madame De Lamballe wasn't the frivolous beauty many think she was, but was intelligent, well-educated, "enlightened", devoted to those she loved and did many charitable deeds.Share
But the author is a bit too enamoured with the Princess to fairly portray her faults. He seems to blame the Princess' loss of favour with the Queen mostly, but not solely, on the Duchess the Polignac, who apparently schemed to destroy her rival. He also often complains about the Duchess using her influence to obtain privileges, titles and money for her family and friends. While it is true that the Polignacs benefited greatly from Gabrielle's friendship with the Queen, Madame De Lamballe often asked favours of Marie Antoinette as well, which however weren't always granted.
Bertin says that all these requests were another of the reasons why Marie Antoinette grew tired of the Princess but if so, shouldn't the Queen have grown tired of the Duchess De Polignac as well? In my opinion, the author is trying too hard to justify Marie Antoinette's preference for the Duchess over the Princess. The reason is probably much more simple. We all get along with and like some people better than others and I think Marie Antoinette simply found herself more at ease with the frivolous Gabrielle than the intellectual Lamballe. (Read entire review.)