#WritersReview: Enchantée

Enchantée written by Gita Trelease

published by Macmillan

480 pages in paperback

cover design Rachel Vale

illustrations Helen Crawford-White

    . . . let this magical historical romance sweep you up and away . . .

Summary from author’s own website

PARIS in 1789 is a labyrinth of twisted streets, filled with beggars, thieves, revolutionaries—and magicians…

When smallpox kills her parents, Camille Durbonne must find a way to provide for her frail, naïve sister while managing her volatile brother. Relying on petty magic—la magie ordinaire—Camille painstakingly transforms scraps of metal into money to buy the food and medicine they need. But when the coins won’t hold their shape and her brother disappears with the family’s savings, Camille must pursue a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

With dark magic forbidden by her mother, Camille transforms herself into the ‘Baroness de la Fontaine’ and is swept up into life at the Palace of Versailles, where aristocrats both fear and hunger for la magie. There, she gambles at cards, desperate to have enough to keep herself and her sister safe. Yet the longer she stays at court, the more difficult it becomes to reconcile her resentment of the nobles with the enchantments of Versailles. And when she returns to Paris, Camille meets a handsome young balloonist—who dares her to hope that love and liberty may both be possible.

But la magie has its costs. And when Camille loses control of her secrets, the game she’s playing turns deadly. Then revolution erupts, and she must choose—love or loyalty, democracy or aristocracy, freedom or magic—before Paris burns…

From A reader’s point of view:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . .

Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities

Enchantée illustrates both aspects of Paris in 1789, though with more emphasis on the best and most enchanting as you might expect. Just look athat lovely cover! It is a revolutionary era Cinderella in many ways – but our heroine Camille has to be her own Fairy Godmother, and the magic comes at a price.

The evocation of the beauties of Versailles and the aristocratic world is charming, but the despair and suffering of the poor are not overlooked. We see both sides of the conflict and to it, Gita Trelease adds a glamorous yet dangerous web of magic. Further entertaining complications are added by both the new science of ballooning, and the attractions of a lively and handsome aeronaut.

It’s a sumptuous, beguiling read with all sorts of perils and possibilities for Camille to negotiate her way through. Escapist in the nicest possible way – takes you to another time and place. If that’s what you fancy, let this magical historical romance sweep you up and away.

If you enjoyed films such as The Aeronauts (2019) for its aerial adventure and back in 1988, Dangerous Liaisons for its cruel yet clever dialogue, this will appeal. On the literary front, readers of Sophia Bennet’s historical works Following Ophelia and Unveiling Venus will probably love the recreation of a different period and its romance. Clearly influenced by Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, it is in no way as voluminous or as difficult to read. (I should point out I loved Susanna Clarke’s novel.) If you liked the TV series, then Enchantée might well entertain.

plus points as an editor, reviewer and writer:

  • character arcs for both sisters convince
  • pleasing balance of light and dark
  • humorous repartee – often with implicit peril
  • cleverly plotted – all facets come into play
  • a handy Press Kit on website
  • a useful Book Club Guide
  • extract on NetGalley convinced me to give a debut a try
  • sequel to come out next year

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