When Catherine, born to a French family in India, wed an Englishman from down the river, she thought she would settle down and have lots of children. But instead her life becomes a whirl of travel, scandal, spies, and romance that eventually leads her to the highest echelons of Napoleonic society.
Poor student of history that I am, I do know who Talleyrand is. But I had never even considered the existence of a Mme de Talleyrand, and so was quite delighted to learn all about her in this slim biography. I enjoyed the writing style especially – this book is narrative nonfiction, which made me feel closer to the people in the book and made everything seem more immediate. The fun thing about this book is just how eventful Catherine’s life was, with the things she did and the people she met, so you get plunged into this vivid world alongside her and go through the highs and lows of her life.
(Speaking of which, Catherine leads the life of the heroine of a vintage ‘bonkbuster’ in many ways – and I love bonkbusters. As I zipped along through the book, I found myself wishing repeatedly that someone would pick her up as the subject of their historical novel and write a nice long dramatic book about her! I could definitely see this book serving as a source and inspiration in such a case. Who must I mail this book to to make this happen??)
I did wish the author continued the book to Catherine’s death instead of ending it on a high point. I looked her up afterward and I know her story goes on beyond the stopping point here in still interesting ways! I also sometimes found the politics discussed in here confusing; it would have been nice to get more background information in places.
Overall, a fascinating read about a little-known figure whose story weaves in and out with that of other prominent people of the time.
Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley. This is my honest and voluntary review.