The Queen's Dressmaker by Meghan Masterson
Book Review - Blog Tour

Publication Date: March 19th, 2021
Publisher: Bookouture
Length: 303 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction


One woman must choose between loyalty to her queen and the man she loves…

Giselle always dreamed of making beautiful dresses, but never thought she would be chosen to attend to the elegant, but troubled, queen of France, Marie Antoinette. Within the glittering, mirrored walls of the palace, Giselle ensures the queen shines brighter than anyone, with not a single feather or ruffle out of place, no matter how she might feel inside.

Being so close to the queen, Giselle is there for her most private and unguarded moments. As whispers spread through the court about the violent protests sweeping across the country and the growing threat to the royal family, Giselle sees the cracks in Marie Antoinette’s perfect image.

On a visit home to her family in Paris, Giselle experiences the troubles first-hand, getting caught up in a dangerous riot. When handsome Léon comes to her aid, she falls in love with this kind, clever young man. But Léon does not share her admiration for the royals, siding with those who believe they should no longer be in power.

Returning to the palace, Giselle is shocked to find the very lives of the royal family now at stake. Marie Antoinette appeals to her to help them escape France and Giselle faces a heart-wrenching choice. Will Giselle risk the guillotine herself to save the life of her beloved queen? And can she do so without betraying the man she loves?

Based on true events, this is an absolutely gripping historical novel of loyalty, betrayal, power and passion. Fans of Les Misérables, Girl with a Pearl Earring and My Dear Hamilton will be totally swept away by this heart-breaking page-turner.

Previously published as The Wardrobe Mistress.

My Thoughts

Thanks to the influence of her uncle, Pierre Beaumarchais, a playwright and former agent of the Secret du Roi, Giselle Aubry becomes one of Marie Antoinette's wardrobe mistresses. Giselle has a flare for dress design and, while she enjoys her role looking after the Queen's gorgeous outfits, she dreams of becoming famous like Rose Bertin, the Queen's favourite dressmaker.

When her uncle asks her to spy on the Queen, Giselle thinks he is trying to relive the excitement of the days when he was an agent for King Louis XV and sees no harm in passing on her observations of life at Versailles. Eventually Giselle becomes selective in what she reveals to her uncle, not quite knowing what he does with the information and gossip she imparts.

On a visit to her Parisian home, Giselle becomes involved in a riot, but is whisked away to safety by a handsome apprentice watchmaker and revolutionary, Léon Gauvin, with whom she falls in love. They share an interest in politics and literature, but their opinions of the royal family differ.

As the unrest in Paris grows worse and the lives of the royal family are threatened, Giselle is asked to help them escape. The decision she makes will not only put her and her family in danger, but also severely test her relationship with Léon.

The idea of the main protagonist caught between opposing sides of the French Revolution makes for very interesting reading. Giselle is sympathetic towards Marie Antoinette. She feels the criticism of her is unfair, but also acknowledges that the Queen can be difficult at times.

Giselle also sympathises with the plight of the common people, but does not condone the violence which she witnesses, first at the Réveillon riot where the target is the owner of a wallpaper factory and then when the royal palaces are stormed by a bloodthirsty mob. Through her association with Léon, she meets some of the revolutionary leaders and even joins in the political debates.

In contrast to the violence and ugliness of the revolution, there are brilliant descriptions of the grandeur of the royal palaces and Marie Antoinette's beautiful dresses, so admired and lovingly cared for by Giselle.

The Queen's Dressmaker is an intriguing tale of the French Revolution. My only criticism is that the ending was abrupt. It left me feeling that perhaps Giselle and Léon's story was not quite done and there may be a sequel. Regardless, I enjoyed my first read from this author and I'm sure those interested in this era in history will also find much to like about this novel.

Meet the Author

Meghan Masterson graduated from the University of Calgary with an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Communications Studies, and has worked several unrelated jobs while writing on the side. When not writing, Meghan can often be found reading at all hours (even at breakfast), practicing archery and roaming through the woods with her dog.

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