Samuels sets this...within a suspenseful, entertaining narrative that provides vivid portraits of its two subjects ... Samuels is hardly the first scholar to tell the story of the duchess’s betrayal ... But Samuels has stripped away the pious propaganda, uncovered many new details, and told the story in a gripping fashion that also brings out its absurdities and moments of dark comedy (the duchess and Deutz were both bumbling and incompetent conspirators). Samuels has also shifted the focus from the duchess to Deutz and made an ambitious argument.
...Maurice Samuels, a professor of French at Yale, offers an engaging account of the duchess’s bold, if futile, efforts to install her son on the French throne. He gives almost as much attention to Deutz’s story as to hers and holds him responsible, in part, for the vehement anti-Semitism of the French religious right later in the 19th century ... The Duchess of Berry’s story is enthralling, and Mr. Samuels tells it well.
Treachery, disguise, capture, and imprisonment—the scandal surrounding an ill-fated 19th-century French insurrection—is all the more captivating in this factual retelling ... Based on memoirs, contemporary newspaper reports, archival documents, and secondary sources, this tumultuous but largely forgotten period of French history is effectively reexamined.