Read Liberty: The Lives and Times of Six Women in Revolutionary France by Lucy Moore Online


"Woman is born free and lives equal to man in her rights," declared Olympe de Gouges in 1791. Throughout the French Revolution, women, inspired by a longing for liberty and equality, played a vital role in stoking the fervor and idealism of those years. In her compelling history of the Revolution, Lucy Moore paints a vivid portrait of six extraordinary women who risked eve"Woman is born free and lives equal to man in her rights," declared Olympe de Gouges in 1791. Throughout the French Revolution, women, inspired by a longing for liberty and equality, played a vital role in stoking the fervor and idealism of those years. In her compelling history of the Revolution, Lucy Moore paints a vivid portrait of six extraordinary women who risked everything for the chance to exercise their ambition and make their mark on history.At the heart of Paris's intellectual movement, Germaine de Staël was a figure like no other. Passionate, fiercely intelligent and as consumed by love affairs as she was by politics, she helped write the 1791 Constitution at the salon in which she entertained the great thinkers of the age. At the other end of the social scale, her working-class counterparts patrolled the streets of Paris with pistols in their belts. Théroigne de Méricourt was an unhappy courtesan when she fell in love with revolutionary ideals. Denied a political role because of her sex, she nevertheless campaigned tirelessly until a mob beating left her broken in both mind and body. Later came the glittering merveilleuses, whose glamour, beauty and propensity for revealing outfits propelled them to the top of post-revolutionary society. Exuberant, decadent Thérésia Tallien reportedly helped engineer Robespierre's downfall. In so doing, she and her fellow "sans-chemises" ushered in a new world that combined sexual license with the amorality of the new Republic....

Title : Liberty: The Lives and Times of Six Women in Revolutionary France
Author :
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ISBN : 9780060825263
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 496 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Liberty: The Lives and Times of Six Women in Revolutionary France Reviews

  • Kim
    2019-03-06 00:17

    I have Hilary Mantel to thank for my fascination with the French Revolution. Before I read A Place of Greater Safety, I had only the sketchiest knowledge of this period in French history. I’m much better informed now, and even more so thanks to Lucy Moore’s account of the lives of six women who were intimately involved in the Revolution and its aftermath. Some of these women I knew a little about already: in particular, the formidable Manon Roland, who was one of the first victims of the Terror, the sans culottes women’s group organizer Pauline Léon and the courtesan turned revolutionary Théroigne de Méricourt. I was familiar with the name of another, Germaine de Staël, although I knew nothing about her other than that she was a writer. The aristocratic Thérésia de Fontenay - who was responsible for saving the lives of countless people who would have otherwise been executed during the terror – I knew nothing about at all. And I thought that I knew nothing about the beautiful society leader Juliette Récamier, until I realised that I’ve seen her portrait by Jacques-Louis David in the Louvre Museum.Moore’s account of the lives of these women is fascinating. It is written in excellent, accessible prose and includes detailed notes, a comprehensive bibliography, a glossary of terms, information about persons mentioned in the book other than the six central figures and suggestions for further reading. It’s highly recommended for readers with an interest in the French Revolution. However, readers who don’t already have some knowledge about key figures and events of the period will probably find it less interesting than I did. I’m glad to have read the book with my good friend Jemidar, who shares my interest in this fascinating period. Mentioned frequently in this book is the song of the French Revolution, Ça Ira. Here it is, sung by Edith Piaf. For a translation, here's a link to Wikipedia.

  • Jemidar
    2019-03-01 04:09

    More like 4.5 stars.Women's roles in revolution has interested me ever since I studied Modern European history at uni so I was very excited when I found this book. I was even more excited when I discovered it covered some territory I wasn't all that familiar with.This accessible bio covers the lives of six women (from all classes) who lived and were politically active (or as active as women were allowed to be) during the French Revolution and Napoleonic era. It refreshingly tells the 'other' side of the story, essentially how the various political ideologies and stages of this tumultuous time in France changed women's influence and positions in society. And while that may sound somewhat dry it wasn't at all. I found it very readable and at times almost gossipy (my favourite type of bio) although that's not to say it wasn't well researched with lots of notes, references, glossaries and gorgeous colour plates. Be warned though, it probably pays to know your French Rev. basics before reading as what the men did is mainly covered in reference to the women.Most enjoyable, as was reading it with my good friend Kim :-).

  • Velvetink
    2019-03-01 05:52

    It may have taken until the late 1960s for the expression ‘the personal is political’ to condense an important truth, but — as Lucy Moore’s fascinating new book shows — that truth is not a new one. Liberty tells the story of the French Revolution through the lives of the great salonnière Germaine de Staël, the passionate middle-class ideologue Manon Roland, the kind-hearted flibbertigibbet Thérésia de Fontenay, the feisty former courtesan Théroigne de Méricourt and the much younger Juliette Récamier — whose beauty and chasity (a very rare thing, to judge by this book) caused her to become an icon of the Republic, not to mention the intimate life of Josephine Bonaparte. This book takes them, jointly and severally, through exile, intrigue, imprisonment in rat-infested jails, multiple lovers, bloodbaths and reversals, not to mention some fabulous parties.

  • Marguerite Kaye
    2019-02-27 06:20

    I have mixed views about this book. For a start, I wouldn't recommend you read it if you know nothing about the French Revolution and the key characters, who are so intertwined with the women's lives in this book. Although Lucy Moore does try to put everything in context, if you've no idea about the general progress of the revolution, the detail of the different factions, allegiances and counter-factions that take up a lot of this book will be more confusing than helpful. I have read quite extensively on the subject, and there were times where I was lost. The women studied in the book I also had mixed feelings about, I must admit. It seemed to me (though it is just a feeling, I could be totally wrong) that Lucy Moore was seeing them through slightly rose-coloured spectacles, glossing over some of their more opportunist traits to put them in a more positive light. Mind you, it is impossible for us to imagine what it must have been like to live through The Terror. I was reminded in places of some of the classic Vietnam War allegorical films such as Southern Comfort, where you've no idea who your enemies are and even if you have any friends. So who can blame some of these women for being opportunistic? For using their sex and their attractions and their connections to protect themselves and their families, as well as, in some cases, to promote themselves. Life during The Terror is unimaginable. I think my biggest issue with this book was that it didn't bring that home enough, and we didn't get enough of a view into how the women coped. Don't get me wrong. In places this was a fascinating read, and the scope of the research, the breadth of material presented, is seriously impressive. But for me, overall, this could have been shorter and sharper, and it would have had more impact if it had focused on one smaller group of women without straining to include all varieties and classes.

  • Colleen
    2019-03-11 22:08

    Absolutely loved this book. Not only is on the beautiful side--great pictures, handsomely bound, it has an intellectual heft to it as well. You know after reading bunches of books about the French Revolution, which gets kicked off by angry women (poissardes--the fish market women) getting ticked off and marching to Versailles, armed with pikes, dragging some cannons behind them, I don't think I've ever read a full profile on one of these women before, or what actually their aims were (besides bread)--I didn't know that they had a 3 point platform: education for women, a mark of shame for prostitutes, and women's trades like dressmaking and embroidery be reserved only for women. Basically the 1790s goes from a time of women with great influence because of salons, romantic entanglement, or family ties, but no real power whatsoever, to a surge of female participation in the public and political life, to The Terror where anything feminine was suspect under the lizard like stare of Robespierre to extreme misogynistic set backs under Napoleon. So very little, to some, to lucky to escape with life, to no power at all, which is as depressing as the first feminist Olympe de Gouges' sigh at her death sentence, "I wanted so much to be someone." This book focuses on the lives of 6 women: Pauline Leon, a lower-class rabble-rouser; Theroigne de Mericourt, the Jacobin extremist; Theresia Tallien, the Outsider Rescuer; Madame de Stael, that Third Power of Europe; Madame Roland, the Roman/Girondist Politician; Juliette Recamier, the Unsullied Beauty. An assortment of other women flit through these pages too--Lucy de la Tour du Pin is here, Charlotte Corday, Josephine, de Genlis, Vigee le Brun, Mary Wollstonecraft, Helen Williams, etc. What these women were doing during the time of Revolution - Napoleon corresponds with most of the action, and it was very interesting seeing all the different perspectives. What's also interesting is the impact on pornographic, misogynist, and straight up libelous articles, pamphlets and newspapers and how that changed history to the degree that it did. Public opinion being whipped up against Marie Antoinette as incestuous mother-lesbian-whore to basically how ALL the women in the book were run through newspapers. Like what happened to Theresia Tallien, sometimes people get lifted up as a celebrity, only so the media can bring them down again (her real "crime" was laughing when Napoleon propositioned her). Marat was killed by Corday to silence his articles. And in one of my favorite parts in this book, Theroigne, the ardent Jacobin meets up with "the most vicious misogynist amongst the royalist hacks" who has previously smeared her in newspaper articles: "Theroigne fought besides the Marseille regiment, and was at the head of a gang which confronted the royalist journalist Francois Suleau...She recognized Suleau, or at least recognized the name, and leapt at his throat." His head promptly goes up on a pike and she gets a civic crown for all the street fighting she did. And then wound up in a mental hospital, smeared with feces, manacled to a wall, thinking she's still before the Revolutionary Tribunal--so pretty bad ending but I guess for a while it was perfect for her.Which is another good thing this book does--brings you to a close view of each person with a clear understanding of their goals or aims. Madame Roland I've always found a bit off-putting before, perhaps because of her earnest but sort of dour primness, so it can be hard to get really excited about her--she gets lost in all the turbans and see-through chiffons or Amazon outfits--but I actually found myself tearing up in her final chapters. And I did notice something across EVERY woman's platform, no matter where they stood ideologically or faction wise--women's education. And probably each one would have agreed with the de Stael aphorism of "Resist, keep resisting, and find the center of your support in yourself." Minor grumble though about some of the typos I saw heir instead of their and some personal pronouns were incorrect, which is an odd error to see, but minor typos aside everything else I found perfect. A fantastic book and one of the cornerstones of my collection.

  • Sarah
    2019-03-18 00:51

    It's nicely written - clear and well-structured - and the focus on the poissardes really brought home both the economic as well as political drivers of the Revolution, and how it failed to deliver for ordinary people. While Thérèse Tallien is forever MY GIRL, and my heart breaks for Anne Théroigne, it was a delight to be introduced to Germaine de Staël and her complicated relationship with Benjamin Constant, and a pleasure to see Manon Roland portrayed in such a thoughtful and balanced light. She's not an easy person to like, but difficult to truly dislike either.However, I've given it two stars because of its old-fashioned historiography; Moore is firmly on the side of initially the constitutional monarchists and then the Girondins. She has nothing positive to say about either Robespierre or Napoleon, and no attempt is made to understand the Jacobin perspective. When it comes to the enragés, the actions of the Societé des Républicaines-Révolutionnaires are portrayed without comment but without real empathy either, something which weakens the sections about Pauline Léon. Of course the Terror is to be condemned, but it surely came about for reasons other than an innate bloodthirstiness on the part of the Jacobins. This book is worth reading for the sections about Tallien and de Staël, but follow it up with something from the other side so you don't get caught up in its viewpoints.

  • Amy
    2019-02-26 06:21

    This was incredibly good. I think one of my favorites I have read this year for non-fiction. It was detailed and informative, and with the perfect amount of a feminist perspective. At first I was a little overwhelmed trying to keep track of the different names and people, but eventually I got them straight in my head and that made them much more enjoyable.As I summarized on tumblr previously, this book was about 75% me being amazed at these clever, determined women, 10% me being grossed out and shuddering over the things that happened to them and all the other women, and 15% angry/irritated/etc about the rampant sexism and misogyny of the times detailed within. (Seriously though.) It was equal parts fascinating and horrifying to realize that the way our male-dominated society treats women who stepped out of their proscribed gender roles has pretty much not changed from then to now. (Men are forever fixated on women's purity and sexuality, basically. Show intelligence or step out of your acceptable roles and you were [and still are] derided as a slut, whore, etc.)ANYWAY a fascinating read, without a doubt.

  • Sandra Strange
    2019-03-02 01:01

    If you have any interest in the French Revolution and how it affected real people, this book will captivate you. Tracing six women, all direct participants in the Revolution, from intellectual Mme de Stael and aristocratic, young Juliette Recamier to lower class demonstrator and accuser Pauline de Leon, these women used what influence they had, whether much or little, to change France. The book traces the events and people, men and women, of France from the beginning of the Revolution through the rise of Napoleon, focusing specifically on the fortunes of women through the hope for women's rights at the beginning of the revolt, through the misogyny of the Jacobin, the license of society, lead by prominent women, after the fall of Robespierre, then the triumph of those who would suppress and subjugate women, lead by another misogynist, Napoleon. The book presents the sexual freedom of some of these women, tastefully, without judgment of their behavior, so it does deal with adult behavior.

  • Tony
    2019-03-01 01:53

    I've finally finished this goddamn book!!! I really don't know how I feel about it. It's informative and very interesting but I don't love the way it's formatted because it can be confusing and I feel as if the author repeats herself a lot. I had to read this book for academic team but I don't regret reading it and for the most part it was an easy, entertaining read. I think I'm a little put off by it just bc I've been reading it for months, always putting it off, and it's been a bit of a source of stress in my life. Anyway, the state competition for academic team is tomorrow so hopefully reading this will have been for good cause.

  • Sarah Muckerheide
    2019-03-13 01:51

    Liberty was an informational book, and through reading it I got a deeper understanding of the more personal side of the Revolution. The transitions between the women is smooth, and they all play an important role in the Revolution. The book really shows the power they had, and did not have

  • Mikey B.
    2019-03-02 05:07

    Antoine de Cordorcet wrote in 1790, Page 61 (my book)“He who votes against the rights of another, whatever that person’s religion, colour or sex may be, has by the same token forsworn his own. Why should creatures subject to pregnancies and to passing indispositions not be able to exercise their rights.”Now if everything would have been as was written in this quote surely we would have had a wonderful France in the 1790’s. But sadly, the French Revolution did not live up to these ideals.Many women were able to speak out for their rights, as is well depicted by this book. They wanted the full rights of being a citizen – but citizen meant “citoyen”, not “citoyenne”. The French Revolution was in some part influenced by the ideals of Rousseau who was hardly for the emancipation of women. But many women read Rousseau and Voltaire, and came to differing conclusions. Rousseau wrote that “Men is born free, but is everywhere in chains.” In this case “men” was interpreted as encompassing both male and female. Voltaire was a skeptic and believed in the power of the intellect.The author points out that many in the revolution wanted women to return to their traditional role as nurturers. Marie Antoinette was seen as decadent, depraved and unnatural – and a part of the aristocracy which had to be obliterated. Robespierre was an extreme misogynist and never married, nevertheless many women admired him. The Revolution self-destructed in its quest for purity – and the military, under Napoleon took control. Napoleon was another misogynist who had traditional views on women.From a play, Delphine in 1802“Women are the victims of all social institutions.’Women were equally condemned for being over-sexed (Marie Antoinette) or under-sexed. There are many wonderful descriptions of several incidents during the revolution. One is of Charlotte Corday (under-sexed, apparently a virgin) who at the age of 25 murdered Marat, a fanatical writer for the “ideals” of the Revolution. Charlotte paid the ultimate price – she was guillotined. Theresa Cabarrus Tallien (over-sexed) was out-spoken, had many lovers and introduced new, and sometimes revealing, fashions.The Death of Marat by Jacques-Louis DavidAssasination of Marat by Paul BaudryTheresa Cabarrus Tallien (unknown painter)This book needed to be streamlined. There are just too many characters introduced on every page. It made reading confusing. It’s interesting because, how could the French Revolution, with all its ideas, characters and colliding events not be engaging. Sometimes I felt unsure of what the author was trying to convey. I think it would have been better to focus on how the French Revolution changed the role of women in society. With the attention given to aristocratic/bourgeois women we get little feel of how the masses of poor, illiterate women were faring.

  • Mandie Ditchburn
    2019-03-27 04:51

    A fascinating account of the French Revolution from a female -- and often a feminist -- perspective. The author examines the lives of six very different women of the period, both as influential figures and often tragic human beings. Theroigne de Mericourt's descent into madness, and the brutal treatment she endured at insane asylums, makes for particularly tough reading.This richly detailed social and political history details the early idealism of the revolutionary period followed (almost inevitably) by disillusionment, opportunism and violence. Sans-culottes and poissardes share page space, if not social circles, with courtesans and femmes politiques. In the heady days of 1789-91, women are prominent. Germaine de Stael helps to create France's new constitution; Manon Roland runs a government department in her husband's name; Olympe de Gouges writes a declaration on women's rights; Pauline Leon leads riots and protest marches; Theroigne dresses as a man and speaks in front of the Convention. But all of these women chafe under the inherent misogyny of eighteenth-century Europe. The thought of women in politics terrifies the male revolutionary; it's a threat, a throwback to the power wielded by debauched kings' mistresses and frowned upon by the followers of Rousseau, who laud the purity of motherhood as woman's only vocation.As the revolution progresses, women's rights regress and their deeds are pigeonholed -- they may portray Liberty at a pageant with their breasts bared but any role of substance is frowned upon as unnatural. The socially conservative Jacobins laugh Olympe out of the Convention and their newspapers slur Theroigne's reputation by bringing up her past as a prostitute. If you're not a virgin or a virtuous mother, you're a whore.In this environment, women's influence return to its Enlightenment roots: the boudoir and the salon. Theresia Cabarrus saves many lives during the provincial purges by starting a love affair with the Jacobin Tallien; Germaine's friend Juliette Recamier is idolised for her beauty and virginity. Both women refuse Napoleon's advances and are later exiled from imperial society.Liberty is a lively, compelling read that chronicles the personal and public lives of these fascinating women, their deeds, lovers, friends and murderers. They are often strangely modern -- Germaine and Manon juggle their careers with relationships and motherhood; Theresia longs for fame; Olympe and Theroigne battle to break through glass ceilings -- which adds to their appeal. Understanding women's experiences adds another dimension to our understanding of this turbulent period in history.

  • Anna C
    2019-02-26 04:02

    One of the greatest mysteries of history (and human nature) arose during the French Revolution. Equality was the central tenant of the revolution. No man is better than another. This principle inspired "Les Droit de l'Homme" and rewrote French society. Poor men made gains, but women's rights actually slipped backwards. How did this obsession with equality manage to overlook half of France?This is the starting point for Lucy Moore's "Liberty." The book attempts to tell the story of the French Revolution through the point of view of six women. Within the first few chapters, the book's structure starts to work against it. In theory, every chapter is devoted to one of the Revolution's heroines. But since women were away from the center of power, Moore has to drop this point of view regularly. She spends roughly half of every chapter giving a SparkNotes style run through of the French Revolution. Since she is eager to return to the women themselves, these portions are rushed and don't give nearly enough context and explanation. I actually started this book last year, but had to abandon it. I returned only when I had learned enough about the Revolution to keep up with Moore's lightning fast summaries. I suspect that the book would have worked better if, rather than assign each chapter to one of the six women, Moore had just integrated them into a narrative about the Revolution. Since she has to focus all of her attention on one woman at a time, many of her heroines seem to disappear. The tragic rabble-rouser Theroigne de Mericourt is randomly abandoned half way through the book. Only in the epilogue does Moore casually mention that Mericourt spent the next few decades in a hellish aslyum. Moore also attempts to tell the story of lower-class women; a noble goal, but one made impossible by the lack of evidence. One of the six heroines is a peasant named Pauline Leon. Her chapters are filled with a great deal of expostulation based on tiny fragments of evidence. Leon disappears once she leaves the membership of a revolutionary organization.Personal quibble: why choose Juliette Recalmier as one of your six heroines? The girl only gets two chapters. Of those two, one is completely pointless, the other is dominated by Theresia de Fontenay. Moore really should have cut the angelic and boring Recalmier to focus on the doomed, romantic, intelligent, and downright awesome Lucille Desmoulins.

  • Jen
    2019-03-22 22:51

    It's amazing what a road trip and a day off can do for your reading stats! I need to do this at least once a month if I really want to finish this quest for 50 books by the end of the year.With this book, I'm again pushing my envelope a bit further, even if it's still European and Women's History. The French Revolution and I have never been close friends, and most of my reading has focused on Marie Antoinette and the royalist party. My knowledge of the other side is at From what I gather, there were a lot of heads cut off.After reading this book, I am now fully in awe of the American Revolution, if for no other reason than at no time did our capital city smell like rotting meat from all the executions. The French Revolution seems to have gone off the rails very quickly, and these 6 women came along for the ride. The six women covered in this book (in order of my ability to recall and my spelling is limited)) were Germaine De Stael, Pauline Leon, Théroigne de Méricourt, Theresa Tallien, Julie Recamier, and Manon Roland. Rather than having a series of mini biographies, Moore does each chapter in chronological order but focusing on the woman who's influence was at the height during that period. The method works exceptionally well, and adds to the readability.Through the lives of the six women, you see how women were at the forefront of the revolutionary movement only to be systematically relegated to the background, not only through laws but also through revolutionary iconography. This is an exceptional book and gave me the impetus to read more about the French Revolution. I'll just have to brace myself for all the blood.

  • S'hi
    2019-02-28 00:20

    Very comprehensive. A little difficult to follow with so many characters stories interwoven through each others' chapters. Some kind of chart of relationships between the segments of society, the salons where they met with each other, and other relationships which linked them would be of benefit. Perhaps too much was attempted in the one volume. And more accessible notes would also have helped. Although disappointed with the structure, this is an important perspective on historic events which still underlie the experience of politics for many women. Role models are important for what they do behind the scenes as well as in the public domain. The mix of attitudes among these women are not that different than exist today. The fears and excuses we give as we consider a public contribution, are both to give ourselves time to digest and learn our own lessons, and to consider whether that is the most appropriate role for our own particular skills and their application. I find it particularly disturbing when the narrative jumps backwards and forwards in time and place. To be of real use the development through challenges as they arose, and the tension of 'not knowing' rather than the assumption that the reader already has some knowledge of these events and characters, would greatly aid the presentation and sequence.

  • Melissa
    2019-03-08 02:10

    I'm always reading ads for history books in The New Yorker that say, "It's non-fiction but reads like a novel!" I don't read much non-fiction, but the idea of reading history appeals to me, so I decided to take a chance with this book. It is not one of those books that reads like a novel, or maybe all of those ads are just lying. As with most books that seem to come from an academic background, it was distracted by little details and random historical figures. It also seemed to assume a great deal of knowledge about the French Revolution, things that I barely remembered from high school classes.Still, despite the academic writing style, the characters of the six women do rise above the narrative. Their stories kept me reading. Little facts were inordinately fascinating, like the aristocratic women who farmed out their children to wet nurses at birth and didn't see their children again until they turned two. Or the affairs that married women carried on as a matter of course, with the full knowledge, and in some cases, approval of their husbands.I'm not sure if I recommend the book, although I'm glad I read it. Maybe seek out another book about the French Revolution. One that actually does read like a novel.

  • Josie
    2019-03-16 02:59

    My true rating would be 3.5 - due to its length (391 pages). A bit too dense and detailed in parts, cutting back to the more typical 250-300 page for history books would have made it an easier read. That being said, following six women's lives was a great way to get an overview of the French Revolution. Who knew that Tallien finally had the nerve to challenge Robespierre at the National Convention because his mistress (and future wife), Theresia Fontenay, was in jail and about to be guillotined? Or that one of Theresia's future lovers would deflect the young, socially awkward Bonaparte's attention from Theresia by introducing him to her good friend, the socialite and future Empress Josephine? Moore describes the fashions, whose salon was hip and the party scene at various phases of the revolution. Like: it became de rigueur to claim to have been imprisoned and to have barely escaped death and macabre balls included women in simple white dresses with red ribbons around their necks to symbolize their escape from the guillotine. Overall a good read.

  • Hollidae
    2019-03-04 06:09

    I'm glad I perservered and finished this book (I was kind of French Revolutioned out after the Josephine trilogy by Sandra Gulland and The Rose Grower). After reading all the fictional accounts of women in the Revolution, I was really curious to know more about the real women, and how accurate the fictional accounts were. I was really surprised to learn how oppresive the Robspierre-ists and following regimes were towards women, especially since Robspierre was idolized by so many women. The things I liked most about the book were the author's writing style which I found really accessible, the fact that it's not strictly biographies and deals with other historical and cultural details, and how the author intertwined all the featured women's lives. I did feel throughout that I should have previously read a good history of the Revolution so I would know who all the key players were better - things did get kind of confusing at times. Overall, I would highly recommend!

  • Sugarpop
    2019-03-23 03:53

    It took a quick minute to get into the book and that is not the fault of the author. The French Revolution is just not one of my favorite time periods to study and I walk away with disgust every time I do. Good does not triumph over evil, there are no heroes and there is no happy ending. It is also necessary reading because it could easily happen all over again and in many countries has to an extent. The jump from one woman to the next threw me off, however, considering the time line it is actually quite perfect. I didn’t find it “too technical” because following that line is watching the Terror unfold with the shallowness of patriotism and the prostitution of Liberty. None of the women were portrayed as Saints, thankfully, and this makes them more accessable.

  • Elizabeth Judd Taylor
    2019-03-24 22:04

    Probably actually a 4.5...This book revolves around 6 women of different classes and backgrounds, but deals with other women (and men) of the years leading up to, during, and just after the French Revolution. Although this is of course a history book, what struck me was how amazingly similar those times were to today. By this I mean that not only was the political climate wildly uncertain, but women found rights they already had being taken away, and rights they were fighting for either refused outright or given and taken away again quickly. As well the idea of what a woman "should" be was being dictated by men, often men who had obvious issues with women. An interesting book, both for the women discussed and for the parallels to our own times.

  • Julia
    2019-03-13 23:17

    Unfortunately, trying to present a chronology of complex events while juggling six biographies was a bit too much for the author. There were some excellent sections but the overall structure was unwieldy. On the plus side, I appreciated the excellent research that went into the book. These were remarkable women who struggled to be heard and to create new roles for themselves as the ground shifted beneath their feet. I would still recommend the book in spite of the structural problems. Even if you read select chapters, you will learn a ton about the French Revolution and its shortcomings where women were concerned.

  • Heidi
    2019-03-02 05:12

    Immensely readable account of the French Revolution from the perspective of six women that were involved with it in various ways. Lucy Moore has a conversational style of writing that is personable and brings each of the women to life. It is a shame that we don't know more about the sans-coulottes Pauline Leon, or any of the other common women whose voices were lost to history -- the only drawback of this book is that it centered mostly around the lives of the aristocracy. It would be interesting to see how the Revolution affected the "little" people, but I doubt few records were kept by or regarding them.

  • Amber
    2019-03-10 23:05

    Thank goodness I am finally finished with this book! It was extremely boring and difficult for me to read. It was a Christmas gift from my husband and so I felt a need to read it in full. I guess that I now know more about the subject now, although I didn't really care to know more on this subject. If I wanted to know about this time period, then I could see how this book would have good, interesting merit. I read books very quickly, so the fact that it took me two whole months to read this book is a agreat indication to me that I did not like it at all. I have read 5 other books while reading this because it just could not keep my attention at all.

  • Linda
    2019-03-25 05:18

    I bought this book at the Wallace Collection Museum in London during a visit when I met up with Laura for Katie's 30th birthday - so, happy memories! I thoroughly enjoyed this non-fiction book, even though it took a little while for me to get into. It features the lives of six women in revolutionary France and rather than recording sequential events, the author uses the device of using different chapters for different periods in the lives of the women. For me, the book gave a different perspective on those horrific times, focussing on women's civil rights - or rather, lack of them. Napoleon Bonaparte does not come out of it well! And how glad I am I did not live through those times.

  • Sharon
    2019-02-24 03:21

    If you want to observe human beings and Western Civilization, you would be smart to study the history of the French Revolution. For sociology, political science, economics--The ten years following 1789 made a fine petri dish for the non-fiction reader. You can read a textbook that follows the chronology of events. Or better yet, you can read Liberty: The Lives and Times of Six Women in Revolutionary France. Absolutely fascinating and well told by Lucy Moore. I'm going to read more of her history books.

  • Michelle
    2019-03-16 23:56

    This book was an interesting one. VERY complicated because there are so many characters (thanks to the author for putting a ref sheet in there). It was so confusing that i read it, saw it at the store, and was like OOOH FRENCH REVOLUTION, bought it, and then realized i already had this book, but the cover changed. But its okay because i gave away the first one and id like to read it again. It was interesting because its rare to find authors writing about major wars and historical events solely from a womans point of view.

  • Marie
    2019-03-11 04:16

    Amazing! How these women get left out of most French Revolution histories, I don't know. (Well, I do, but it's even harder to comprehend after reading this book.) This is a real on-the-ground account of the actual daily events of six women who were at different places on the socio-economic scale, as well as political leanings and activity. It's clear that things unfolded the way they did largely because of the intellectual circles fostered at women's "salons" and of the political activism (including fighting) of women of all classes. This is a must-read.

  • Kat Dellinger
    2019-03-26 01:52

    A Wonderful book I read through very quickly. I could not put this down! This book is a Non-Fiction that covers the lives of 6 women during the French Revolution. Everyone from Aristocrat and Intellectual Germaine De Stael to Revolutionary Courtesan Theroigne De Mericourt. It interconnects their lives and how the Revolution affected them and the Women and world they lived in. If you are interested in the French Revolution and the women who lived (or died) during that time in History, this book is Fantastic!

  • Eliza
    2019-03-16 06:02

    Ran out of renewals from the library, so had to quit reading...I enjoyed learning about life in these times, especially the lives of women. I did feel somewhat lost, though, since I am not a historian. I found myself looking up people, events, dates, and terms on Wikipedia pretty often. It's definately written for people who have a general grasp of the timeline and key players of the french revolution. I'd like to pick this up again in the future.

  • Heidi
    2019-03-10 04:18

    This book has been an interesting read. I don't know much about French politics, but this opened up my eyes to a frightening time in History. It is a pretty fast read due to the fact that it focuses on so many people in the revolution, but I think that makes it more interesting to get the different perpectives that the Reign of Terror had on individuals.