Madame Laborde takes the reader within the palace, meticulously reconstructing the 14th, 15th, and 16th of July 1789feverish days when the servants have disappeared and many of the courtiers are fleeing. Versailles' miniature universe, sparkling with every outward appearance of happiness and beauty, is brilliantly juxtaposed with the chaos that erupts. We witness the unraveling of the palace's dawn-to-dusk ritual and the rising panic of the court as Versailles edges closer and closer to collapse. With the revolutionaries virtually at the gates of the palace, Madame Laborde herself flees the night of the 16th, escaping with members of the once-powerful de Polignac family.
Transporting us to revolutionary France with the knowledge and insight of an historian and with the skill of a consummate storyteller, Thomas evokes this historical moment more powerfully than any historical analysis can.