Dancing to the Precipice: The Life of Lucie de la Tour du Pin, Eyewitness to an Era

By Caroline Moorehead

“[A] extraordinary biography….Moorehead deftly wields classes detail…to inform the tale of a charming girl who stored her experience of self amid the vicissitudes of politics.”


From acclaimed biographer Caroline Moorhead comes Dancing to the Precipice, a sweeping chronicle of the impressive lifetime of Lucie de l. a. journey du Pin—“an astute, completely enticing biography of an impressive girl” (Boston Globe) who, over the span of a few eighty years, used to be witness to, and sometimes a player within the significant social upheavals of eighteenth-century French history.

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Lucie herself used to be in a lucky place. an area farmer’s spouse from Le Bouilh, dedicated to the family members, introduced provisions within the baskets strapped directly to her donkey while she got here two times per week to promote potatoes and cabbages within the within reach marketplace. Frédéric saved in contact by means of sending letters hid in a loaf of bread, delivered to Bordeaux every one week via a tender boy. Le Bouilh have been sequestered yet earlier than it have been sealed close, the caretaker had controlled to take away all of the most sensible linen and small gadgets, and those she despatched, a number of at a time, through relied on courier to Bordeaux, in addition to a provide of logs for firewood. Jeanne-Marie-Ignace-Thérésia Cabarrus used to be appeared via many because the most pretty girl of the revolution. She used to be small, no longer a lot over five toes, yet she had silky black hair, very white dermis, a touch turned-up nostril, excellent the teeth and a gorgeous smile. Even Gouverneur Morris, by no means lavish along with his compliment, remarked approvingly on her sprightliness. Born in July 1773 to a French service provider father and a Spanish mom, she had arrived in France on the age of five to be trained by means of the nuns. extra to her many different charms was once that of her voice, which retained a slightly perceptible overseas lilt. while basically 14 she made an exceptional marriage to the Marquis de Fontenay, a councillor on the Paris parliament; the next 12 months, no longer but sixteen, she gave beginning to a son, Théodore. Lucie, who was once 3 years older than Thérésia, have been brought to her once they have been either women. ‘Nothing,’ she wrote later ‘could dim the radiance of her splendidly reasonable dermis. ’ It was once within the studio of the modern portrait painter Mme Vigée-Lebrun that Thérésia met Jean-Lambert Tallien, the son of a modest maître d’hôtel in an aristocratic family. Tallien used to be tall, with curly reasonable hair and usual, friendly positive factors, and he was once then operating for the printer Pancoucke. by way of their moment assembly, no longer lengthy afterwards, he had develop into secretary to Alexandre de Lameth and was once relocating speedily up the political ladder. by way of then Thérésia too used to be inflicting a stir, either for her seems and for her salon, frequented by way of Lafayette and l. a. Rochefoucault. With the revolution, Tallien came across his precise vocation. notwithstanding no longer as brutal as Danton, nor as outrageous as Marat, nor as chilly as Robespierre, he shared so much in their beliefs. via the summer time of 1792, he was once clerk of the court docket to the Paris Commune, with the task of signing warrants for arrest. At 25 one of many youngest deputies elected to the conference, sitting at the Mountain with Robespierre, Tallien used to be despatched, within the spring of 1793, to excursions to hurry up recruitment for the military and to establish committees of safeguard and surveillance. the town used to be in chaos: Tallien proved powerfuble and never overly merciless. while représentants en undertaking have been wanted for rebellious Bordeaux, he appeared an noticeable selection. within the distinct représentant uniform of lengthy, tight-fitting blue redingote, tricolour sash, plumed hat, cross-belt and sabre, he lower a glamorous determine as he rode into town in the back of common Brume.

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