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Reviewed by Frank Stephen for Readers' Favorite
The Marquis' Daughters: In the Shadow of the Guillotine tells the tale of two daughters of a noble family trying to survive the French Revolution with its thirst for the rolling heads of royals and nobles and its hoarding of bread. These sisters belonged to two different mothers. One was born as a legitimate child with the splendid upbringing of the nobility. The other was illegitimate, her father's secret, who grew up to be the lady's maid of her half-sister. Both mothers lost their lives to the pox, and both daughters had their lives changed forever by the Revolution. In an unusual twist of fate, the illegitimate daughter got the chance to live the glamorous life of her half-sister, while the legitimate daughter experienced the hardship of her half-sister's life. The outcome of their new life trajectory is not like anyone or any of them would have expected.
Valerie Anne Hudson's narration is captivating and invites readers to explore the horror and glamour experienced in France during the Revolution. She perfectly displayed the upper classes' absolute oblivion of the plights of the lower class. But what stood out most for me is the deeper meaning conveyed by the contract of the lives of both of the marquis' daughters. Their story juxtaposes the fruits of envy and jealousy with the rewards of contentment and sacrifice. It also explores the irony of a prestigious route leading to ill fortune and a perilous path leading to a happy ending. The Marquis' Daughters: In the Shadow of the Guillotine beautifully explores the theme of classism, jungle justice, the death penalty, women's rights, deceit, and sacrifice. It is perfect for lovers of historical narratives.