Last month, while I was away, I was able to start and finish two books and they were “Murder On the Orient Express” by Agatha Christie and Danielle Steel’s “The Duchess” and they also were my first reads for both authors, so I might be interested in reading other books in the future. The only reason why I will not be sharing a review on MOTOE is because I’ve already seen the 2017 film and it is considered a classic so thought it belonged in my other journal, but I thought you’d love to know my thoughts on this book instead.
To be quite honest with you, I thought this would be a different story, in my mind I thought it was about Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. I saw the words “The Duchess” and immediately became excited to finally read the actual book based on the film that came out in 2008, but it wasn’t. The author who wrote that book is Amanda Forman. What I didn’t expect was continuing to read this other story and absolutely loving it!
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The incomparable Danielle Steel breaks new ground as she takes us to nineteenth-century England, where a high-born young woman is forced out into the world—and begins a journey of survival, sensuality, and long-sought justice.
Angélique Latham has grown up at magnificent Belgrave Castle under the loving tutelage of her father, the Duke of Westerfield, after the death of her aristocratic French mother. At eighteen she is her father’s closest, most trusted child, schooled in managing their grand estate. But when he dies, her half-brothers brutally turn her out, denying her very existence. Angélique has a keen mind, remarkable beauty, and an envelope of money her father pressed upon her. To survive, she will need all her resources—and one bold stroke of fortune.
Unable to secure employment without references or connections, Angélique desperately makes her way to Paris, where she rescues a young woman fleeing an abusive madam—and suddenly sees a possibility: Open an elegant house of pleasure that will protect its women and serve only the best clients. With her upper-class breeding, her impeccable style, and her father’s bequest, Angélique creates Le Boudoir, soon a sensational establishment where powerful men, secret desires, and beautiful, sophisticated women come together. But living on the edge of scandal, can she ever make a life of her own—or regain her rightful place in the world?
From England to Paris to New York, Danielle Steel captures an age of upheaval and the struggles of women in a male-ruled society—and paints a captivating portrait of a woman of unquenchable spirit, who in houses great or humble is every ounce a duchess.
taken from Goodreads.
After I quickly found out this wasn’t at all what I wanted to read originally, I never thought to turn away from it. I had surprised myself in a way because I’ve DNF’d (did not finish) a lot of books this year, and I was half expecting this to be added onto that list.
“She had no idea where the future would lead her or what it would look like, but whatever happened, she was determined to survive it.”
And then I learned more about Angelique Lantham’s story, and I couldn’t stop turning the pages and I started to really hate sleeping at night because the pull to hear more about her and the world Danielle was able to create was so strong.
As familiar as relearning the customs of that time, which as a reader you should take note early on because this is based in an earlier setting than most historical fictions. This is set in the later period of the Regency, after George IV is actually king and it goes on until the start of Queen Victoria’s reign. So, being a woman–a daughter, wife, and/or aunt was rough because you were not entitled to inherit anything, especially if you were a daughter of a duke. The young daughters and orphaned nieces of the wealthy were subjected to find a suitable husband during the Season and were introduced to others in their social class, plus the royals of the time.
For Angelique, she was the favorite of her only living parent, the Duke of Westfield, but she had two older brothers Tristan and Edward who knew they were next in line to their father’s titles, houses and wealth after he died. And their little sister would get nothing, or so they believed. Once their father passed away, he couldn’t protect her from their wrath, much less the law keeping her away what should have been hers in the first place.
What I found interesting, and mesmerizing was Angelique’s will to fight the odds in her own little modest way.
Every time I thought where the story was going, it would twist around and lead into a new direction just like life had been for her. After being forced to leave her little world at her beloved home, she was sent to a family who needed a nanny for their five children. As a reader, this puzzled me because taking care of that many children under the age of five–despite the changes in history–seems very daunting, and in the beginning, Angelique was nervous about this prospect too, but she pushed through it with grace until her final day.
Related to kings in two countries, and daughter of a duke, banished by her brother, she was reduced to working as a domestic, and at the mercy of anyone who would hire her.
Afterwards, she travels to France, another ancestral home but with the same heartbreaking results. She finds no job, and everything feels so numb until she comes across a young woman named Fabienne battered and beaten, and she nurses her back to health. Fabienne has had a rough life and has resorted to prostitution, and this part of the book is where things become slightly more interesting, as these two young women decide to create a high-class brothel in Paris, and as the reader, you never see it coming until afterwards; this was the first twist of the story to me and I was stunned by the fact that Angelique would want to do it in the first place and that really threw me for a loop, but then again we are at the last stages of the Regency period–despite being settled in another country!–so the story of brothels, madams, and hookers wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but don’t get me wrong, it was frowned upon respectable women, but sex work has always been available and people (mostly men) have engaged in this sort of act for every part of history!
However, as Angelique has been quick to find out, life can change in an instant, and she has to abandon her life in France and start all over again, but this time she moves to America, and as she’s on the boat, she meets a nice young man by the name of Andrew and he definitely changes Angelique’s piece of mind about what it means to be in love and suddenly wants everything she’s never wanted in the beginning of the story. This relationship was different compared to all of the others she had in Paris, and it’s in this section that two more things turn for this character that makes you feel very happy inside for a while.
For anyone who has never read anything by Danielle Steel, I think you should consider looking into this book and seeing if it had the same effect on you as it did on me. I have picked out a few other books by her to check out in the future. Maybe I’ll find a chance to read them in 2023?