Meghan Masterson is a history enthusiast who is drawn to unique situations in history, especially ones that created rare opportunities and dilemmas for the people of the time period. Always a keen writer and reader, Meghan has found her happy place in life, writing about fascinating historical characters.
Your new book, The Wardrobe Mistress: A Novel of Marie Antoinette is out now. What was the inspiration for the story?
The Wardrobe Mistress: A Novel of Marie Antoinette follows Giselle Aubry, one of Marie Antoinette’s wardrobe women, who casually spies on the queen as revolutionary fervor takes hold in Paris. As the revolution escalates, she becomes torn between her loyalty to the queen and her growing love for her idealistic revolutionary suitor, and in danger of facing the guillotine herself.
My main inspiration was Marie Antoinette herself – she’s much-maligned, but in my research, I found that she probably wasn’t quite the selfish villain that her reputation leads us to believe. I loved exploring the complexity of all the rumors about her against the contemporary descriptions of her actions. When I discovered the role of the queen’s wardrobe women in her household, I knew that was the perfect job for my main character. It brought her close to the queen as well as the significant role that fashion played during the revolution. Eventually, it even became illegal not to wear a tricolor rosette.
If you could go back in time for a year, which historical era would you choose to live in?
This is a tough question, and I feel like I’d have a different answer every day. Right now, I will say the Belle Époque, because the book I’m currently writing is set during the 1850s and it’s quite a fun time period to write about. I’m used to older settings, so it’s been interesting that I can actually include some more modern technology, like photography.
What is one book you could read over and over again?
The Crystal Cave (The Arthurian Saga, Book 1) by Mary Stewart. I literally have read it multiple times. I’m a big re-reader of books I enjoyed in general, though. It’s like visiting an old friend.
Do you ever dream about the stories you’re writing?
Not in any great detail. Sometimes the characters are in my head enough that they stay on the periphery of my dreams, kind of hovering like the sense you’ve forgotten something. Unfortunately it’s not useful.
About: The Wardrobe Mistress: A Novel of Marie Antoinette
It’s Giselle Aubry’s first time at court in Versailles. At sixteen, she is one of Marie Antoinette’s newest undertirewomen, and in awe of the glamorous queen and her opulent palace life. A budding designer, it’s a dream come true to work with the beautiful fabrics and jewels in the queen’s wardrobe. But every few weeks she returns home to visit her family in the Parisian countryside where rumors of revolution are growing stronger.
From her position working in the royal household, Giselle is poised to see both sides of the revolutionary tensions erupting throughout Paris. When her uncle, a retired member of the secret du roi, a spy ring that worked for the old King, Louis XV, suggests that she casually report the Queen’s actions back to him as a game, she leaps at the chance. Spying seems like an adventure and an exciting way to privately support the revolution taking the countryside by storm. She also enjoys using her insight from Versailles in lively debates with Léon Gauvain, the handsome and idealistic revolutionary who courts her.
But as the revolution continues to gain momentum, and Giselle grows closer to the Queen, becoming one of the few trusted servants, she finds herself dangerously torn. Violence is escalating; she must choose where her loyalty truly lies, or risk losing everything…maybe even her head.