Being Rich can be a Dangerous Occupation

Book Stats: The Pale Assassin

Author: Patricia Elliott

Age group: 14-17

Best Place to Buy: Barnesandnoble.com

Length: 336 pages

Rating: 7 out of 10

I read this book over the summer and while I was in the campus bookstore today I saw it again. I decided to write a post about it. We have all heard of the French Revolution but we rarely get to see it from the point of view of a teenage girl. At least, this is the first time I have read a book from this perspective.

Summary: Eugenie de Boncoeur is a spoiled young aristocrat in living in Paris. She is looked over by her guardian and her older brother, Armand. Months before her sixteenth birthday she finds out she has been betrothed to Le Fantome, a creepy man, and will marry him after her birthday. Little does she know that she will be marrying the man who killed her father years before.

Her upcoming marriage is small beans compared to the unrest among the Paris proletariat (service people). It isn’t long before one protest turns into a government overthrow. The poor French are angry at anyone that represents wealth. Aristocrats, whether guilty or not, are soon the target of radical revolutionists. It becomes unsafe for Eugenie to stay in Paris as herself.

For a short time her brother finds her places to hide, with kind friends who take her in. She is often confined to the homes of these people and soon her adventurous spirit brings her to escape. In the meantime La Fantome has grown worried that his bargain for Eugenie will not be honored. When Eugenie goes out one of his spies sees her and reports back to him. It is not long before it becomes clear that if La Fantome cannot have her, now, no one will, ever.

Not only does Eugenie fear for her life from the French revolutionaries, growing more dangerous every day, she now has to worry about staying out of the hands of La Fantome. This is a story of danger, intrigue, revolution and even a little romance. Eugenie has to deal, not only with the normal pressures of teen years but also political unrest and avoiding an unwanted, and persistent, suitor.

Reason for the rating: While I enjoyed this book to some degree, I found it hard to connect to the pompous Eugenie. I felt more connected with the people who took her in than to her. I felt for her, of course, but I didn’t get as into the book as I usually do. The plot is potentially suspenseful but often disappoints.

This is the first book I have read by Patricia Elliott and I am reserving judgment on her writing until I read more. I will probably read the sequel to this book but I might not buy it. Her other books appear to be more in the realm of fantasy than historic fiction. Once I have read some of that I will see if I think she should stick to one genre. It can be hard to go outside your comfort zone.

Recommendation: I would still recommend this book, but it might be a good idea to read it before deciding whether or not to buy it. This may be a good way to help teens get interested in the French Revolution and the events that led up to it.

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