Tuesday 18 April 2023

Ribbons of Scarlet

Finished April 14
Ribbons of Scarlet: A Novel of the French Revolution's Women by Kate Quinn, Stephanie Dray, Laura Kamoie, Sophie Perinot, Heather Webb, and E. Knight, with a foreword by Allison Pataki

This historical fiction novel is written in first person around several real women who had public roles in the French Revolution. In the afterword, the authors talk about where they took liberties with the facts to either make the plot work better, minimize the number of character the reader was introduced to, or to link certain characters together. 
Most books about the French Revolution cover the time period with a focus on the males who were at the center of the action, and seldom touch on the women who were actively involved. The idea of focusing on the women was intriguing to me. 
The book is written chronologically from the spring of 1786 to the spring of 1794. There is also an epilogue that is set ten years later. Each section focuses on one or two women, from the Princess Elizabeth, sister to King Louis XVI, to Louise Audu, a vegetable seller known as Queen of the Market Women, to Manon Roland, who wrote her husband's speeches. The women are from many walks of life, and encompass many experiences of the war from its beginning philosophy through its riots and executions to its unsatisfactory end. The choice of women is good, giving us a variety of points of view and showing us firsthand different aspects of the war. 
One issue that I had with the book was that although each section focused on one or two women, because it was chronologically we didn't get the full story of that character in their section, so there were times I felt left hanging while we switched to a different voice. I'm not sure how this could have been avoided though given the structure. 
I learned more about this period in history, and about these women and some of the men they interacted with. Definitely an enlightening read. 

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