I'm torn about the rating because I personally didn't like the story and not through the fault of the author. However, I couldn't give it three stars because I couldn't say I liked it either.
The story is about the life of Gabrielle de Montserrat, a sheltered aristocratic female who suffers the ill-treatment from everyone around her in one form or another. Gabrielle tells her tale in a distant voice recounting the events of her past though we do get glimpses of her current situation.
The historical landscape was intriguing though superficial. You get a glimpse of provincial life, court life, Parisian aristocracy and life after the Revolution. However, it is not a history lesson. While many prominent characters are loosely based in history, it mere serves as a backdrop for Gabrielle's story.
I personally didn't enjoy this novel because I found the main character's disposition and situation to be very painful to read. She is pretty much passive and her tone is dull for the majority of the novel though we get moments of spirit. I also felt as if everything but the kitchen sink was also thrown at her. But still, I read on as her tale was nonetheless engrossing.
There is the suspense of how Jean-Andre would treat her after they met up again. The flash forwards were clever devices that kept me interested to find out what happened since you know Gabrielle and Aimee were still alive and that she has a granddaughter (don't worry, this isn't a spoiler as this is revealed early in the story). I was really curious as to how the story would end.
Truthfully, if the story were more my taste, I'd at least rate it a 3 or a 4. So, if that doesn't bother you, then you are in for a good read where your emotional heart strings will be pulled by how powerless Gabrielle is. If passive main female characters subjected to so many abusive situations doesn't sit right with you, then you might want to pass on this one.