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4.0 out of 5 stars Why no cover? Because most of the newer editions of this series are questionable translations and a bad translation = a mediocre Dumas novel. There are libraries that have the 100 year old editions and if you want to read this series I recommend going that route.

The story begins in March 1793 as Louis XVI has been beheaded, Marie Antoinette and her children are imprisoned and the Committee for Public Safety has unleashed The Reign of Terror. Unaware of a curfew, a young woman is stopped by members of the National Guard but saved from arrest by Civic Guard officer Maurice Lindey. The woman disappears into the night but the enchanted Maurice finally locates her, and becomes friends with Genevieve and her older husband (who finds Maurice to be useful in his royalist plots). In the meantime, all Paris is abuzz over the mysterious Chevalier de Maison Rouge and his heroic attempts to secrete Marie Antoinette away from her fate with the guillotine.

The story then goes back and forth between that of Maurice and his beloved Genevieve and a recounting of the final days of Marie (now called Madame Capet) and the various schemes of several royalist parties to save her. Although I did enjoy this book very much (it _is_ Dumas), this one just didn’t come off with the excitement and flare the previous six have done. Perhaps after six books I was approaching burn out, perhaps it’s because there was no sign of my favorite characters from the first five books, but this one just didn’t knock my socks off — although I very much enjoyed the love story between Genevieve and Maurice. They were very touching and I doubt I’ll ever look at a carnation the same way again. Have the tissue handy for the ending.

I do want to caution potential readers of this series to research carefully which edition you purchase — there are some bad translations out there that can seriously impact your reading experience. The best luck I’ve had is with the early 1900’s translations published by a P F Collier and Sons. The entire series, in order:

Joseph Balsamo
Memoirs of a Physician
The Queen’s Necklace
Taking the Bastile
The Countess de Charny
The Chevalier de Maison Rouge (or The Knight of the Maison-Rouge)

I have been told that The Chevalier de Maison Rouge was written first and then Dumas was contracted to backtrack and write a series. The characters from the first five books are not in this last one so it is likely true.

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