Ichabod is itchy

November 9, 2006

The women’s war

Filed under: literature — by ichabodisitchy @ 7:44 pm

Now this is more like it! After my disappointment at the general sappiness of Clare in The time traveller’s wife, I deliberately chose this Alexandre Dumas book because the title promised a plethora of strong female characters. And I’m happy to report it did not disappoint.

In this new translation about one of Princess de Conde’s rebel uprisings against Queen Anne of Austria and the young King Louis XIV, Dumas paints the potrait of four formidable women. Aside from the Queen and Princess (both of whom are ruthless to the extreme), we are given the royalist Nanon de Lartigues– a dark beauty fuelled by raw ambition, who will stop at nothing to accumulate wealth and power. On the other side, we are presented with a fair-headed rebel, the Vicountess de Cambes, who is ready to sacrifice all her worldly possessions–and her soul besides–to restore the Princess de Conde to her rightful place in court.

A common weakness for both Nanon and the Vicountess is the Baron de Canolles– a charming and courageous hero who finds himself torn between the two women fighting for his love. Somehow, I was not irritated by the Baron’s inconsistency (he seems to sway towards whichever lady happens to be by his side at the time)– Dumas gives him a reality that is hard to fault.

As the story unfolds, and the Princess de Conde’s rebellion moves up a gear, the three principal characters get caught up in events beyond their control. Their commitment to their cause fades as they struggle to hold on to the people they love and, in the end, they each pay a high price for their political ardour.

As with many Dumas novels, this one was inspired by historical events and, as usual, is a wonderful blend of fact and fiction. It is packed with political intrigue and has a much-appreciated message about the futility of war. This book is a real gem.


  1. Sounds interesting.

    Comment by Marie — November 10, 2006 @ 10:10 am |Reply

  2. I love De Canolles. If I were Clare, I’d do nothing but like the way she did. A lovely and beautiful romantic novel

    Comment by Kate Annette — June 6, 2007 @ 6:34 pm |Reply

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