2 thoughts on “The Memoirs of Madame de La Tour du Pin

  1. Thank you for the excellent review of the memoirs of one of my heroes and I hope my rave will re-inforce your recommendation:

    I had been trying to find the Harcourt translation. Luckily I found the original 2 volume French edition online halfway through recording the 1920 (inaccurate and inelegant) English translation for Librivox. Even after spending months with Mme. de La Tour du Pin I never grew tired of her company. So clever, sharply observant and socially accomplished yet it was her husband and her children who were her great passion. BTW, I understood that, after the sudden death of her little daughter, Mme. de La Tour du Pin relied on a new-found faith in God to guide her actions – specifically, acquiescing against her own wishes and judgement, in her husband’s decision to leave America.

    Like you, I learnt a great deal about the history of the period from Mme. de La Tour du Pin’s eyewitness accounts because she knew everybody. Her verbatim record of encounters with with that ironical devil Talleyrand were my favourites, but its interesting to see Napoleon, Marie Antoinette, Mme. de Staël and more through her eyes. As you say, when the mob invaded Versailles, she was there. It was even to her husband that Louis XVIII confided the Palace as he was driven off proceeded by the heads of his guards impaled on pikes – “Tâchez de sauver mon pauvre Versailles”. She was a childhood playmate of the Duke of Wellington, and the friendship was renewed. As you point out, Lucie was often on the move, by land and sea, just ahead of events- the pace of her narrative never slackens and nor does she.

    A footnote : though the memoirs take us only to Napoleon’s return from Elba, if I read Fanny Burney rightly, our heroine was even at the famous ball on the Eve of Waterloo (“there was a sound of revelry by night”) and she succoured the French wounded after the battle.


    1. Thank you! Yes, I was looking for Waterloo, but the selection in the translation rather loses Waterloo, and I got very muddled as to the years of Napoleon’s rule, not being sure if X happened before or after Elba, for example. I’d love to read a translation of the whole thing.


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