Ribbons of Scarlet is out in the world today!
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Title: Ribbons of Scarlet
Authors: Laura Kamoie * Kate Quinn * Stephanie Dray * Sophie
Perinot * Heather Webb * E. Knight
Ribbons of Scarlet is a timely story of the power of women to start a revolution—and change
In late eighteenth-century France, women do not have a place in politics. But as the tide of revolution rises, women from gilded salons to the streets of Paris decide otherwise—upending a world order that has long oppressed them.
Blue-blooded Sophie de Grouchy believes in democracy, education, and equal rights for women, and marries the only man in Paris who agrees. Emboldened to fight the injustices of King Louis XVI, Sophie aims to prove that an educated populace can govern itself–but one of her students, fruit-seller Louise Audu, is hungrier for bread and vengeance than learning. When the Bastille falls and Louise leads a women’s march to Versailles, the monarchy is forced to bend, but not without a fight. The king’s pious sister Princess Elisabeth takes a stand to defend her brother, spirit her family to safety, and restore the old order, even at the risk of her head.
But when fanatics use the newspapers to twist the revolution’s ideals into a new tyranny, even the women who toppled the monarchy are threatened by the guillotine. Putting her faith in the pen, brilliant political wife Manon Roland tries to write a way out of France’s blood-soaked Reign of Terror while pike-bearing Pauline Leon and steely Charlotte Corday embrace violence as the only way to save the nation. With justice corrupted by revenge, all the women must make impossible choices to survive–unless unlikely heroine and courtesan’s daughter Emilie de Sainte-Amaranthe can sway the man who controls France’s fate: the fearsome Robespierre.
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“There she is, the harlot . . .”
“La femme Roland . . .”
“Traitorous slut . . .”
The whispers followed me as I made my way across the floor, looking neither right nor left. It was the
first time a woman had been called to address the Convention, and I’d dressed for the occasion as
though it were an honor: a blue gown that foamed about my feet as I stalked to the bar, a white fichu
pinned with my tricolor cockade, red ribbons twined through my hair. A revolutionary patriot, top to
toe. When I turned to face the questions, I let my eyes travel, bold and confident, to the high bleacher
seats where the radical Jacobins held court.
Before the proceedings could even begin, some heckler from their ranks called, “How do you answer the
charge of treason, citizeness?”
I replied with calm contempt. “The charge is ludicrous, and all here know it.”
It was a smear job of the crudest kind: an unsavory informer reporting he had discovered a London
conspiracy to restore the king, and that my husband and I were complicit. My husband had already been
summoned to account for himself and had perhaps not done as well as he might: he couldn’t hide his
indignation, and he became flustered when the tone turned sneering. I would not give my questioners a
chance to sneer.
“The informer states clearly, Citizeness Roland, that you—”
“I did not summon him.” I spoke briskly, taking the reins before my questioner could bring down the
whip and speed this interrogation to the pace my enemies wanted. This was going to go at my pace, not
theirs. “From my files of letters I can see the man wrote to me, asking for an interview with Minister
Roland. I receive dozens of such requests every week.”
“You do not deny you received the man?”
“He paid a brief call, and from his probing I concluded he was sent to sound us out about some scheme
or other.” I smiled. “Or perhaps I was wrong. I am a woman and not skilled in these matters.”
The questioner took turns with his colleagues, trying to turn my words on me, trying to talk me in circles.
As long as I had listened to politicians drone over my dinner table, I could talk anyone in circles. I
shredded their accusations and stamped the shreds underfoot, feeling the color rise in my cheeks—not
embarrassment, but the fierce heat of pride. Was this what Roland felt when he addressed the
Convention? This rush of power that tingled the fingertips, the confidence that my words were
deploying like obedient soldiers and the crowd sat in the palm of my hand? Why would anyone who had
command of this floor ever leave it?
Finally, I was excused to the sound of ringing applause among the deputies, the charge dismissed in full,
the honors of the session formally accorded to me. I looked from Robespierre to Danton to Marat with a
wide bland smile as I glided out, and the smile became a beam as my husband drew me into the nearest
“Thank goodness it’s over.” His face was creased with relief. “Let me take you home, calm your nerves.”
“My nerves are calm, and I can take myself home. You stay, speak with those who need reassuring.”
He kissed my forehead. “I hated seeing you up there,” he muttered, before rushing back inside.
He’d hardly gone before a low voice spoke behind me, prickling my skin. “I loved seeing you up there.
You were born to it.”
I turned, smile draining away. The man who loved me stood feet planted wide, arms folded, dark hair
rumpled—he must have been waiting to catch me alone. “Citizen,” I managed to say, not daring to put
his name through my lips.
“You were brilliant,” he said quietly. “Brave as a lioness.” A voice of calm power for a man not yet thirty-
three. Six years younger than I, what did that say about me? “They should have known better than to try
to trap you in so crude a snare.”
“That shabby excuse for a conspiracy might have been crude, but it was real, even if we had no
involvement.” I kept my voice brisk, turning the conversation to safer waters. “As long as the king lives,
there will be plots to restore him. The matter will have to be dealt with.”
“The king is just a man, and a small one.”
“With a long shadow.”
We both smiled involuntarily. It had always been like that with us, the eager cut-and-thrust of our
minds. “If you wish to speak to my husband . . .”
But the man who loved me took my hand.
“Manon, I honor Roland and support him always. But I am here for you.”