cover image Blood Sisters: The French Revolution in Women's Memory

Blood Sisters: The French Revolution in Women's Memory

Marilyn Yalom. Basic Books, $25 (308pp) ISBN 978-0-465-09263-5

Yalom, a faculty member of Stanford University's Institute for Research on Women and Gender who has written many books in the fields of French history and women's studies ( Rethinking the Family ), here uses her expertise to provide a thoughtful feminist analysis of the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror that followed. Quoting heavily from more than 75 memoirs, some written by women loyal to the throne, others by those who supported the Revolution, Yalom posits that, because the writers had in common both gender and a primary concern for personal relationships, they viewed the bloodshed differently than their male counterparts. She cites Rosalie Lamorliere's poignant chronicle of Marie Antoinette's last days, Charlotte Robespierre's memories of her brother Maximillian, who sent hundreds to the guillotine, and Alexandrine des Echerolles's account of the 1793 Lyons uprising as examples of the horror at the wanton loss of life that all these memoirists shared. A unique contribution to historical studies. Illustrations not seen by PW. History Book Club alternate. (July)