This book is based on the memoirs of the Irish-French Marquise de la Tour du Pin (née Lucie Dillon), in effect an account from a close and privileged position of the history of France from the latter days of the Ancien Régime, through the period of the Revolution of 1789, the Terror during which her father, Colonel of the Régiment de Dillon of the Irish Brigade in the French Army, her uncle, several other members of her family and many close friends were guillotined, She and her immediate family escaped to England, where she found refuge with many land-owning relatives, and then to up-state New York for several years. They returned to France and became supporters of Bonaparte through the wars, the exile to Elba, the return of Louis XVIII, the Hundred Days, Waterloo and the exile to St Helena.
Her half-sister and her husband, General Bertrand, accompanied Napoleon during both exiles. Lucie saw out the reigns of Louis XVIII, Charles X and the Revolution of 1830. She lived through the reign of Louis Philippe and the Revolution of 1848 after which Louis Napoleon seized power. He was crowned as Napoleon III the year before she died.
Through Lucie's writings and the correspondence she had with her friends and children Caroline Moorehead gives us a detailed and fascinating picture of a huge and turbulent swathe of French History during which the modern world was formed. When one of the leaders of the Chinese revolution was asked what the effects were of the French Revolution he said that it was much too early to say since they were still being worked out. Lucie observed them closely and wrote with clarity. It is surprising that her work is not better known. Caroline Moorehead is to be congratulated for bringing her to our attention.