September 2012 Book of the Month. The journal of Henrietta Lightfoot so first person, easy reading, entertaining stuff which begins with why this naive and very innocent young lady is running away on 22 October 1789. Then we get her adventures - indeed confessions, as she falls foul of one disastrous situation after another. Set around the West End of London with some great characters, bawdy brothels, elegant drawing rooms and filthy streets, we are hurtled along the road by an infectious voice in a delightful romp. With lots of period detail and more adventures to come, this is the most enormous fun. And a message to readers from Henrietta Lightfoot: 'October 1789: I shall never forget that day. I shall never forget the decision I made. I was seventeen and so ill prepared for life that I hardly knew how to dress myself, let alone how to board a mail coach or even how to purchase a loaf of bread. When I fled my home at Melmouth Park, I left those who both loved and hated me behind. I threw myself upon the world, dear reader - and see what trouble has come of that. Do read my tale closely, for the warnings of your mamma and your governess were correct; there is much to be learned from a woman of my sort. I fell for every snare and trick of fate, so that you might not. My tale is not for the faint of heart - the prude, the high-minded and moral are likely to take offence. You have heard the lies and slander from others. Prepare now to hear the truth.'
This wonderful, bawdy, fictional memoir began with Mistress of My Fate which eventually saw Henrietta Lightfoot fall for the daring Lord Allenham. Here they are off to Belgium when he gets called on to Paris and leaves Henrietta. She receives a letter from him urging her to return to England but the impulsive adventurer follows her love … only this is 1792 Revolutionary France. She falls in with two powerful women and forms a number of dangerous liaisons. The author, Rubenhold, is brilliant. Lots of historical detail, lots of drama and intrigue and a fast, compulsive pace is given a light touch by the first-person narrative. It is a pure charmer. If you saw The Scandalous Lady W on TV you will know what to expect for this is the same author. ~ Sarah Broadhurst A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher... A Tale of Two Cities meets Dangerous Liaisons - lovers of historical fiction are in for a treat with THE FRENCH LESSON. It tells of a young English woman on her own in the perilous times of the French Revolution in Paris. Henrietta Lightfoot is a single woman whose possessions have all been stolen. She stumbles into the opulent home of the most famous courtesan of the 18th century, a real historical figure – Grace Dalrymple. Little does she know that Grace has imperious plans of her own, and Henrietta becomes a pawn in a vicious power game between the most powerful women in France. Most of the protagonists in this novel, the rulers of France, the mistresses and wives, artists and revolutionaries, really did exist, and Hallie, an 18th century historian and author of THE SCANDALOUS LADY W (a hit BBC drama) has researched primary sources to tell this fabulous story, which roars with such pace, plot, detail and sensuousness. There is even a hint of murder, and all played out on a canvas of authentic bloody revolution. ~ Jane Lawson, Editorial Director, Doubleday Transworld Publishers