Paris, 1792. The French Revolution.
Aristocrats are being burned out of their lavish estates, ruthlessly hung in the streets, and lined up publicly to face the bloody guillotine. The elaborately detailed story is told by nineteen-year-old Hélène; born an aristocrat but with the heart of a revolutionary. Accused of being a spy and wrongly imprisoned, she takes us through her past as a pampered upper-class girl, through to when the timeline converges to her present as a prisoner in fear of her life.
As the National Assembly gains power, the common people rebel against the aristocrats. Hélène and her family have to run for their lives leaving behind her comforts, the only family she’s ever known and Theo, the love of her life. Displaced and unwelcome by her mother’s long-estranged family in Grasse, Hélène begins to learn bits of her family’s past but only enough to spur her curiosity to know the entire truth. Fleeing once more, this time on her own, Hélène runs away to Paris in search of the truth and to find Theo. When disappointment leads to heartache, Hélène finds herself needing to leave her past behind and move on, if she’s going to survive.
Set in the politically tumultuous and viciously societal time of the French Revolution, Bandy delivers a brilliantly researched tale. What I find exceptional is how it is told through the eyes of a teenager. How much suffering had to be endured and survival was wrought with fear and uncertainty by one so young.
These were violent, savage times with no one safe from losing their heads.
I think this is a superb read, particularly for the YA genre, because of its excellent historical detail and accuracy of what life was like for young people and the effort of women of all ages who were fighting for the right to be heard and recognized as citizens of value. Undeniably a compelling read—highly recommended.
Thank you to NetGalley and Blackstone Publishing for the read of Lindsay K. Bandy’s, Nemesis and the Swan.
Opinions expressed are my own.