Liberty: The Lives and Times of Six Women in Revolutionary France
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Liberty: The Lives and Times of Six Women in Revolutionary France

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  154 ratings  ·  31 reviews
"Woman is born free and lives equal to man in her rights," declared Olympe de Gouges in 1791. Throughout the French Revolution, women, inspired by a longing for liberty and equality, played a vital role in stoking the fervor and idealism of those years. In her compelling history of the Revolution, Lucy Moore paints a vivid portrait of six extraordinary women who risked eve...more
Hardcover, 496 pages
Published May 8th 2007 by Harper (first published 2006)
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Kim

I have Hilary Mantel to thank for my fascination with the French Revolution. Before I read A Place of Greater Safety, I had only the sketchiest knowledge of this period in French history. I’m much better informed now, and even more so thanks to Lucy Moore’s account of the lives of six women who were intimately involved in the Revolution and its aftermath.

Some of these women I knew a little about already: in particular, the formidable Manon Roland, who was one of the first victims of the Terror,...more
Jemidar

More like 4.5 stars.

Women's roles in revolution has interested me ever since I studied Modern European history at uni so I was very excited when I found this book. I was even more excited when I discovered it covered some territory I wasn't all that familiar with.

This accessible bio covers the lives of six women (from all classes) who lived and were politically active (or as active as women were allowed to be) during the French Revolution and Napoleonic era. It refreshingly tells the 'other' sid...more
Velvetink
It may have taken until the late 1960s for the expression ‘the personal is political’ to condense an important truth, but — as Lucy Moore’s fascinating new book shows — that truth is not a new one. Liberty tells the story of the French Revolution through the lives of the great salonnière Germaine de Staël, the passionate middle-class ideologue Manon Roland, the kind-hearted flibbertigibbet Thérésia de Fontenay, the feisty former courtesan Théroigne de Méricourt and the much younger Juliette Réca...more
Sandra Strange
If you have any interest in the French Revolution and how it affected real people, this book will captivate you. Tracing six women, all direct participants in the Revolution, from intellectual Mme de Stael and aristocratic, young Juliette Recamier to lower class demonstrator and accuser Pauline de Leon, these women used what influence they had, whether much or little, to change France. The book traces the events and people, men and women, of France from the beginning of the Revolution through th...more
Anna Cain
One of the greatest mysteries of history (and human nature) arose during the French Revolution. Equality was the central tenant of the revolution. No man is better than another. This principle inspired "Les Droit de l'Homme" and rewrote French society. Poor men made gains, but women's rights actually slipped backwards. How did this obsession with equality manage to overlook half of France?

This is the starting point for Lucy Moore's "Liberty." The book attempts to tell the story of the French Rev...more
Mikey B.
Antoine de Cordorcet wrote in 1790, Page 61 (my book)

“He who votes against the rights of another, whatever that person’s religion, colour or sex may be, has by the same token forsworn his own. Why should creatures subject to pregnancies and to passing indispositions not be able to exercise their rights.”

Now if everything would have been as was written in this quote surely we would have had a wonderful France in the 1790’s. But sadly, the French Revolution did not live up to these ideals.

Many wom...more
Mandie Ditchburn
Jul 01, 2008 Mandie Ditchburn rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those interested in French history, social history, feminism, politics
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
S'hi
Sep 15, 2011 S'hi rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: students of democracy and diversity
Very comprehensive. A little difficult to follow with so many characters stories interwoven through each others' chapters. Some kind of chart of relationships between the segments of society, the salons where they met with each other, and other relationships which linked them would be of benefit. Perhaps too much was attempted in the one volume. And more accessible notes would also have helped.
Although disappointed with the structure, this is an important perspective on historic events which st...more
Josie
My true rating would be 3.5 - due to its length (391 pages). A bit too dense and detailed in parts, cutting back to the more typical 250-300 page for history books would have made it an easier read. That being said, following six women's lives was a great way to get an overview of the French Revolution. Who knew that Tallien finally had the nerve to challenge Robespierre at the National Convention because his mistress (and future wife), Theresia Fontenay, was in jail and about to be guillotined?...more
Jen
It's amazing what a road trip and a day off can do for your reading stats! I need to do this at least once a month if I really want to finish this quest for 50 books by the end of the year.

With this book, I'm again pushing my envelope a bit further, even if it's still European and Women's History. The French Revolution and I have never been close friends, and most of my reading has focused on Marie Antoinette and the royalist party. My knowledge of the other side is at best...limited. From what...more
Melissa
I'm always reading ads for history books in The New Yorker that say, "It's non-fiction but reads like a novel!" I don't read much non-fiction, but the idea of reading history appeals to me, so I decided to take a chance with this book. It is not one of those books that reads like a novel, or maybe all of those ads are just lying. As with most books that seem to come from an academic background, it was distracted by little details and random historical figures. It also seemed to assume a great de...more
Hollidae
I'm glad I perservered and finished this book (I was kind of French Revolutioned out after the Josephine trilogy by Sandra Gulland and The Rose Grower). After reading all the fictional accounts of women in the Revolution, I was really curious to know more about the real women, and how accurate the fictional accounts were. I was really surprised to learn how oppresive the Robspierre-ists and following regimes were towards women, especially since Robspierre was idolized by so many women. The thing...more
Sugarpop
It took a quick minute to get into the book and that is not the fault of the author. The French Revolution is just not one of my favorite time periods to study and I walk away with disgust every time I do. Good does not triumph over evil, there are no heroes and there is no happy ending. It is also necessary reading because it could easily happen all over again and in many countries has to an extent.

The jump from one woman to the next threw me off, however, considering the time line it is actua...more
Linda
I bought this book at the Wallace Collection Museum in London during a visit when I met up with Laura for Katie's 30th birthday - so, happy memories! I thoroughly enjoyed this non-fiction book, even though it took a little while for me to get into. It features the lives of six women in revolutionary France and rather than recording sequential events, the author uses the device of using different chapters for different periods in the lives of the women. For me, the book gave a different perspecti...more
Amber
Thank goodness I am finally finished with this book! It was extremely boring and difficult for me to read.

It was a Christmas gift from my husband and so I felt a need to read it in full. I guess that I now know more about the subject now, although I didn't really care to know more on this subject. If I wanted to know about this time period, then I could see how this book would have good, interesting merit.

I read books very quickly, so the fact that it took me two whole months to read this book...more
Julia
Unfortunately, trying to present a chronology of complex events while juggling six biographies was a bit too much for the author. There were some excellent sections but the overall structure was unwieldy.
On the plus side, I appreciated the excellent research that went into the book. These were remarkable women who struggled to be heard and to create new roles for themselves as the ground shifted beneath their feet. I would still recommend the book in spite of the structural problems. Even if yo...more
Heidi
Immensely readable account of the French Revolution from the perspective of six women that were involved with it in various ways. Lucy Moore has a conversational style of writing that is personable and brings each of the women to life. It is a shame that we don't know more about the sans-coulottes Pauline Leon, or any of the other common women whose voices were lost to history -- the only drawback of this book is that it centered mostly around the lives of the aristocracy. It would be interestin...more
Marie
Amazing! How these women get left out of most French Revolution histories, I don't know. (Well, I do, but it's even harder to comprehend after reading this book.) This is a real on-the-ground account of the actual daily events of six women who were at different places on the socio-economic scale, as well as political leanings and activity. It's clear that things unfolded the way they did largely because of the intellectual circles fostered at women's "salons" and of the political activism (inclu...more
Michelle
This book was an interesting one. VERY complicated because there are so many characters (thanks to the author for putting a ref sheet in there). It was so confusing that i read it, saw it at the store, and was like OOOH FRENCH REVOLUTION, bought it, and then realized i already had this book, but the cover changed. But its okay because i gave away the first one and id like to read it again. It was interesting because its rare to find authors writing about major wars and historical events solely f...more
Kat Dellinger
A Wonderful book I read through very quickly. I could not put this down!
This book is a Non-Fiction that covers the lives of 6 women during the French Revolution. Everyone from Aristocrat and Intellectual Germaine De Stael to Revolutionary Courtesan Theroigne De Mericourt. It interconnects their lives and how the Revolution affected them and the Women and world they lived in. If you are interested in the French Revolution and the women who lived (or died) during that time in History, this book i...more
Eliza
Sep 27, 2011 Eliza rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: quit
Ran out of renewals from the library, so had to quit reading...

I enjoyed learning about life in these times, especially the lives of women. I did feel somewhat lost, though, since I am not a historian. I found myself looking up people, events, dates, and terms on Wikipedia pretty often. It's definately written for people who have a general grasp of the timeline and key players of the french revolution. I'd like to pick this up again in the future.
Heidi
This book has been an interesting read. I don't know much about French politics, but this opened up my eyes to a frightening time in History. It is a pretty fast read due to the fact that it focuses on so many people in the revolution, but I think that makes it more interesting to get the different perpectives that the Reign of Terror had on individuals.
Edy
"Although he idealized motherhood, Rousseau abandoned his own children; although he wrote about pure, innocent love he openly admitted to masochism and masturbation; although he praised submissive women his own mistress, with whom he lived in a menage a trois alongside her herbalist, was a speculator, adventuress and sometimes spy." (p 19)
JESL
I'm reading it for the second time and enjoying it. Women really did influence the political world of this period - manon roland is especially interesting. Her life would make a great movie.
Jessica
Jul 25, 2014 Jessica marked it as dnf
Good book - I'd finish it later, but my library loan expired!
Kathleen McRae
I liked this book . It had a lot of new information for me and I really had not thought of the french revolution being as much about womens status in society as about disallusionment with the great gap between rich and poor. interesting read
Lisa Christian
Picked up this book primarily for Théroigne de Méricourt, but was quickly sucked into this work. Also, Olympe de Gouges and Pauline Leon! What more could you ask? Immensely readable. Moore does a great job at bringing these women alive.
Rachel72
This is a beautifully written study of six remarkable but very different women of Revolutionary France. It's one of those non-fiction books that reads like a novel. Highly recommended.
Meredith
Rambling and unengaging. Interesting premise if she had made it more fascinating. As it was, it was too technical and dry.
Jolly Roger
Great book! But I would suggest a basic understanding of the French Revolution before reading to maximise comprehension..
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Charlotte Corday 4 5 Feb 23, 2014 02:47PM  
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Lucy Moore was born in 1970 and educated in Britain and the United States before reading history at Edinburgh University. She is the editor of Con Men and Cutpurses: Scenes from the Hogarthian Underworld, and author of the critically acclaimed The Thieves Opera: The Remarkable Lives and Deaths of Jonathan Wild, Thief-Taker, and Jack Sheppard, House-Breaker (Viking 1996) as well as Amphibious Thing...more
More about Lucy Moore...
Anything Goes: A Biography of the Roaring Twenties Maharanis: The Extraordinary Tale of Four Indian Queens and Their Journey from Purdah to Parliament The Thieves' Opera Amphibious Thing: The Life of Lord Hervey Con Men and Cutpurses: Scenes from the Hogarthian Underworld

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