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Monday, January 11, 2010

Book Review: The Queen’s Dollmaker by Christine Trent

The Queen’s Dollmaker by Christine Trent
ARC, Paperback, 384 pages
Kensington Press
January 1, 2010

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Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: From author for review
“A young woman, struggling to expand her London dollmaking trade, finds a surprising customer in Queen Marie Antoinette, an avid doll collector herself. This seemingly innocent exchange puts Claudette’s life in danger when she is lured to Paris under false pretenses. Money and jewels are being smuggled in dolls destined for the Queen, and have now been discovered by the fledgling revolutionary French government…”
Claudette Laurent is a burgeoning apprentice to her father, a well known dollmaker in Paris and she has a secret betrothal with her young love, Jean Philippe. One day Claudette wakes up and finds that part of the city is on fire and it is heading their way! After the smoke has cleared, Claudette finds herself an orphan and on a ship to England – bye, bye Jean Philippe! In England, Claudette makes some great friends, butts heads with the upper class, and eventually opens her own doll shop. When Queen Marie Antoinette becomes one of her best customers, Claudette becomes entangled with the scandal of the French court and rapidly evolving French Revolution.

This novel was my first read about the French Revolution (shocking, I know!). Trent does a great job of setting the mood of the upper class courtiers and the middle class trades people. You get an understanding of just why the Revolution took place. I found myself feeling very sorry for Marie Antoinette – she was constantly taken advantage of, and just when she starts to make her stride, she meets her end. I also enjoyed meeting a young Madame Tussaud, before she became the famous person everyone remembers.

It is a very interesting premise to have the main character, who is fictional, make her living as a dollmaker. There are many details about the dolls, the process of making the dolls, different types of dolls, and the function of these dolls in society. I didn’t know that Marie Antoinette was a big collector of dolls. I have always enjoyed reading about real characters who were not the main players in history, but this was also interesting because it was a character that does an unconventional job.

There was only one small issue that I had with the book and that was with the introduction. When Claudette was at her home and realized that there was a fire coming toward her house – her reactions seemed a little unbelievable. She was slow to leave and took the time to make her bed first – she didn’t act like the fire was a big deal. This was the only time though where her reactions seemed a bit off. Once Claudette got onto the boat to England though, the story took off and was phenomenal.

You can also read an excerpt if you are interested in getting a taste of Trent's writing style.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia
Also by Christine Trent:
A Royal Likeness
A Royal Likeness
[My Review]
By the King's Design
By the King's Design
lady of the ashes
Lady of Ashes (Lady of Ashes Book 1)
Stolen Remains
Stolen Remains (Lady of Ashes Book 2)
A Virtous Death
A Virtuous Death (Lady of Ashes Book 3)
The Mourning Bells
The Mourning Bells (Lady of Ashes Book 4)
Death at the Abbey
Death at the Abbey (Lady of Ashes Book 5)
Find Christine Trent: Website | Newsletter | Facebook | Goodreads

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. Your review makes me so curious to go get started on my own reading! It sounds fabulous. Thanks:)

  2. I am regretting not taking this one when we were offered it at Historical Tapestry. I thought I would be nice and let someone else have a go. Alex loved it, and now I am seeing all these fabulous reviews all over the place and wishing that I had read it!

    It's on my list to get hold of now, that's for sure!

  3. Ms. Lucy, yes, you should get started on your own reading. :)

  4. Marg, what a nice comment, thank you. I'm hoping to have my next book, about an apprentice to Madame Tussaud, ready for review in the Fall.

  5. I can't wait to read this book myself - it's been added to my to read list !

  6. I love when a book is told from the perspective of a unique character; someone you wouldn't expect so I am sure I would love this tale.

  7. I'm with you - I love to look at history thru the eyes of a real, everyday person who's living it, not necessarily making it. And a female dollmaker in the time of Marie? Sounds fascinating. asthenight at gmail dot com

  8. I just read a Rosalind Laker novel set at the time of Marie Antoinette - what an exciting time! I'd love to read this novel.

  9. I have been hearing about this book on all the historical fiction blogs and I really want to read it. Thanks for the great review!

  10. Should I be happy or concerned? What if the French Revolution starts cutting into my Tudortime? I have never had an interest in the French Revolution before reading the reviews for this book. Of course, the fact that it involves a dollmaker and the cover art being gorgeous doesn't hurt.

    I've not read anything by Christine Trent but will be!

  11. Great review! Wow, I had no idea of Marie Antionette's interest in doll's either! This looks so good!

  12. Your review has definitely piqued my interest in the book. I also find Claudette's ability to open her own shop interesting and add in characters from the French Revolution...sounds good.


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