Her Own Revolution
Her Own Revolution: Château de Verzat Series
by Debra Borchert
About Her Own Revolution
Her Own Revolution: Château de Verzat Series
2nd in Series
Setting – Paris and a Loire Valley vineyard during the French Revolution
Le Vin Press (July 14, 2023)
Paperback : 422 pages
ISBN-10 : 0989454576
ISBN-13 : 978-0989454575
Digital Print length : 364 pages
ASIN : B0BYKFQGLG
A Woman Forges a Treacherous Path to Save Hundreds from the Guillotine
If Geneviève Fouquier-Tinville had the same rights as a man, she wouldn’t have to dress like one, which she does to attend University—forbidden to women. By swearing her commitment to the revolution, she succeeds in convincing her father, the Public Prosecutor who condemns thousands to the guillotine, to hire her as a court clerk. But she intends to earn passage to join her lover, Henri, in America.
Tasked with copying lists of names scheduled for execution, she reads Louis LaGarde, a fallen noble whom she despises for having exposed her as a woman when they both attended University. Believing him innocent, she replaces his name with one already dead, saving his life. But she realizes that unless she forges a treacherous path, hundreds more will perish at her father’s hands.
When a Revolutionary hunts her down, she must accept LaGarde’s help, yet she denies her attraction to him out of loyalty to Henri. She fights for her life and the lives of those she’s come to love, but she must face the truth of her own heart.
Read an Excerpt
August 3, 1793
If I had the same rights as a man, I would not have to dress as one.
After waiting for Cook to leave for the market, I raced through the kitchen, down the servants’ stairs, and into the cellar. The pungent odors of ripe apples, stale wine, and fusty onions thickened the air. I pulled out my bundle from behind the vinegar cask and unbuttoned my gown.
The irony of having to masquerade as a man to have equal rights made me want to spit in Robespierre’s face. I wrapped a strip of cloth tightly around my breasts. All the talk of Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité. I pulled on my brother’s tunic.
Liberty? All women were free to do was starve. I stepped into my brother’s breeches and knotted a ribbon at my waist.
Equality? Pah! Our latest government passed a law enabling all men to vote. I tied my neckcloth.
Brotherhood? What about sisterhood? I shoved my arms into the waistcoat. After four years of governmental discussion, girls were finally guaranteed an elementary education. But universities were still closed to women.
Voices from the kitchen stilled me. If my stepmother caught me, she’d send me to a nunnery. My fingers grew numb from grasping the frock coat lapels. Her heavy footsteps headed for the dining room. I shook out my stiff hands.
We had won the right to divorce, but how were all the divorced women supposed to support their children? The memory of Lisette, my former neighbor, standing amongst the prostitutes gathered at the banks of the Seine, calling and taunting sailors, chilled me.
I stomped my feet into the too-big boots. An unmarried woman’s signature was still worthless. But not in America—there women could own businesses and property. I should have gone to America with Henri. I should not have been so stubborn. I had been his mistress for a year, why had I refused to accompany him as one? I adjusted the breeches, trying to ignore my own nagging voice: He never said, I love you.
Coiling my hair into a bun, I pushed my brother’s tricorne down over my curls, opened the cellar door, and peeked out into the late afternoon. A steady rain beat upon the cobbles, washing chamber-pot slops into the gutter at the street’s center. The heels of my brother’s boots were higher than my usual shoes, and I concentrated on keeping my balance as I straddled the gutter.
Staying on narrow back streets, I adjusted my gait, trying to appear confident. As was my habit, I began to pick up my skirts but clutched the frock coat instead and looked around for anyone who might have seen me.
If caught impersonating a man, any other woman would appear before the Public Prosecutor—my father—who would order her head shaved and sentence her to an insane asylum. But if I were arrested, I would disappoint my father, who would feel obligated to make an example of me. As he had recently sentenced Charlotte Corday, the first woman to be guillotined, I feared being dragged before him far more than eight-months in a madhouse.
I splashed through puddles. If I didn’t sail for America soon, my stepmother would have me married to an old goat I didn’t love. But if I had identity papers proving I was a man, I could get a job that paid enough money for passage. Henri had urged me to visit his printer friend, Pierre. How would I convince Pierre to make false papers—a traitorous crime, for him and me? What if Pierre refused, or worse, told my father? I’d make Pierre agree. Today.
Dark gray clouds hung over the river and twisted up the turrets of la Conciergerie, the new home to Marie Antoinette. Even if Henri couldn’t marry me, I was going to join him in America, no matter what crimes I had to commit. Surely he’d tell me he loved me when he saw me again.
Rain slid down the back of my neck, making me shiver. I pulled up my collar. The only right women earned that was equal to a man’s was the privilege of facing Madame Guillotine.
About Debra Borchert
Debra’s debut novel, Her Own Legacy, is the first in a series that follows headstrong and independent women and the four-hundred loyal families who protect a Loire Valley château and vineyard, and its legacy of producing the finest wines in France during the French Revolution. Her Own Revolution is the second book in the Château de Verzat series. A graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology, she weaves her knowledge of textiles and clothing design throughout her historical French fiction. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family and standard poodle who is named after a fine French Champagne.
Q&A With the Author, Debra Borchert:
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
While writing Her Own Revolution, I loved how my characters surprised me. How their actions boxed me into a corner and forced me to figure a way out for them.
While copying names of prisoners scheduled for the guillotine, my protagonist, Geneviève, reads the name of a man she hated for exposing her while she was attending university dressed as a man—both crimes for women of 18th century France. I thought she’d be a bit happy that his name was on the guillotine list, but instead she replaced his name with the name of one already dead!
I said out loud, “What did you do that for? If you’re discovered, by your own father, no less, you’ll face the guillotine!”
And when this man learns she has saved his life, I fully expected him to be eternally grateful. Wrong again.
I gave my characters free rein to act, but I had to really listen to understand their actions. All my characters surprised me and totally delighted me.
I often find myself writing characters who take the wrong actions for the right reasons, and Geneviève doesn’t stop doing wrong things in her efforts to save innocent lives.
Do you have any other books you are working on that you can tell us about?
I am currently working on Her Own War, the third book in the Château de Verzat Series that tell the tales of independent, resilient and daring women who risk their lives saving others and the Château de Verzat vineyard, and survive the French Revolution on their own terms.
I am also working on Cooking at Château de Verzat a cookbook that celebrates the food created and served by the beloved characters who star in Her Own Legacy, Her Own Revolution, and Her Own War.
Can you tell us about what you have planned for the future?
I am a Francophile and am planning a research trip to the Alsace region in France. I’m working on a contemporary mystery/romance.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve had many careers and I’ve been writing for 20 years. However, I’ve been a reporter and an actress, and both those careers required the same communication skills I use as a writer.
Anything more you would like to say to your readers and fans?
I hope my books strike chords with my readers and cause them to think and wonder: what would I do in that situation? If the lives of 400 families depended upon me, would I risk my life to ensure their safety?
From my work as an interviewer, I learned that people usually only remember that which touches their hearts—requiring no memorization. So, I feel it is important to tell history in a way that touches people, for only then can we not repeat history. I believe WWII books continue to be so popular, in part, because we do not want to forget that which touches our hearts.
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