Dancing to the Precipice: Lucie de La Tour du Pin and the French Revolution by Caroline Moorehead - review by John Adamson

John Adamson

Eyewitness To An Era

Dancing to the Precipice: Lucie de La Tour du Pin and the French Revolution

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In a book replete with vivid moments, none is more cinematic than its heroine’s homecoming to Le Bouilh, her family’s vast and still unfinished château in the Gironde, in the aftermath of the Terror. When she had left it, three years earlier, just as the French Revolution was revving up into its most murderous and hyperactive phase, the palatial house had embodied all that was most modern, magnificent and forward-looking in the aristocratic haut monde: the chaste neo-Classicism of le style Louis XVI; the fine furnishings, pictures, Gobelins tapestries and rock-crystal chandeliers; the extensive library stocked with the morocco-bound wisdom of the philosophes. Now, systematically pillaged by the functionaries of the Revolution, the great house

appeared vast, gaunt, unwelcoming. The garden was overgrown, the outbuildings derelict; the immense high-ceilinged drawing rooms with their tile and stone floors echoed at every step. [Shortly after its owners’ departure, three years earlier], men from the local municipality had arrived to conduct a sale of the château’s

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