Review: The Queen’s Dollmaker by Christine Trent

I picked up this historical fiction piece for free on my Kindle (under top 100 free books on Kindle). As those who know me know, I love historical fiction. This story centers on Claudette Laurent, a teen who is orphaned during a great fire in Paris and goes to make her life in England. Claudette had learned her father’s trade: doll making. After a short stint as a servant, Claudette opens her business in creating beautiful dolls for the wealthy. Eventually she comes under the notice of both the Queen of England and the Queen of France, Marie Antoinette. Parallel story lines cover Claudette’s love interests (a beau she left behind in Paris and an intriguing English gentleman) and her friend’s lives, along with another central plot, told from Marie Antoinette’s point of view, of the events leading up to the French Revolution.

While I enjoyed this book, I did have some issues with the writing – particularly in the beginning and particularly with Claudette’s parents’ dialogue (at one point it was so bad I thought it was some sort of joke). I also thought some parts were rather far-fetched (Claudette ran off to England pretty quickly, and things wrapped up very neatly at the end). Perhaps it was just me, but I detected some inconsistencies in the plotting of Claudette’s age in the first half of the book (years passed and she was still the same age it seemed). I personally don’t have a lot of knowledge about Marie Antoinette and the French Revolution (unless watching Les Mis counts!), so I found this part interesting. I was a bit disappointed to never read of Marie Antoinette shouting, “Let them eat cake!” (or “Mangeons le gateau” so to speak).

I enjoyed this book and was thrilled that it was free. I see that Ms. Trent has a sequel out, continuing the story. For me, one of the most intriguing parts of this story was the facts about doll making in that era. If you like this period for historical fiction — and especially if you can get it for free — I’d recommend it!

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