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The Revolution of Sabine Hardcover – Bargain Price, September 9, 2008

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About the Author

Beth Levine Ain is a former children's book editor and the author of WHEN CHRISTMAS COMES AGAIN: THE WORLD WAR I DIARY OF SIMONE SPENCER. She lives in New York.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Sabine closed her bedroom door softly behind her. She walked, holding her breath, down the hallway and paused at the top of the staircase. Downstairs, the house was buzzing. Sabine could hear Cook shouting frantic commands at his staff and the maids shuffling around on hands and knees, polishing the floors one last time. The flowers had arrived,and everyone was surely waiting with frayed nerves for Mother to come and either approve or dismiss them.

Sabine began her descent, stepping all the way to the left side of step number twelve to avoid its creaky spot. If she could just get out for a little while, she could make it through the rest of the day. She needed air. Three more steps and I'll be down the stairs and through the front door, she thought as she stared at her feet. One . . . two . . .

"Sabine!" Madame Margaux Durand was standing with her arms crossed at the bottom of the staircase. She had appeared out of nowhere.

"Mother," Sabine said carefully. "I was just on my way down to--"

"Honestly, darling, let's not start the lies this early in the morning. This is far too important a day for your usual nonsense. All of Paris has been vying for an invitation to our home to meet Mr. Franklin, and you're trying to sneak away. Do you have any idea how important this is for me, for our family? Do you know how many girls your age envy your position?"

Without giving Sabine a chance to answer, her mother continued: "Now, turn yourself around, go have a bath, and wait for Brigitte to come help you get ready for the party." Madame Durand uncrossed her arms and shooed her daughter away, back up the stairs, back into the long hallway that led to Sabine's suite, back into the room that, despite its grandeur, felt like a prison cell to Sabine. She was trapped.

Sabine threw herself onto her bed, and the giant satin duvet fluffed up all around her. She wished she could sink right into the mattress and disappear. All that would be left when Brigitte came to find her would be the small indentation of a sixteen-year-old girl. A girl, it would come to be known, whose mother had driven her to insanity and who, on themorning of the biggest ball to be thrown in Paris in an age, had simply vanished.

"Sabine." Her governess poked at her cheek impatiently. Sabine blinked and looked up; she had fallen asleep in the bathtub. "You could have drowned!"

"Wouldn’t that have ruined Mother’s ball?" Sabine replied wearily as she hoisted herself out of the tub and into the towel Brigitte held for her. "Actually, no," she said, rethinking. "I'm sure she wouldn't have let that happen. She simply would have told the guests that I had come down with a cold or something, and then she'd smile, sip her champagne, and plan to deal with the details tomorrow."

Brigitte played along with Sabine. "You're probably right. Only I'm sure she wouldn't have had the time to handle the details first thing in the morning.She'd have too much gossip to tend to. Who was wearing what, who had had too much to drink--"

"Who hadn’t paid enough attention to her!" added Sabine. "She'd have wanted to wait until afternoon, at least, to call for the coroner." Sabine laughed, and Brigitte, who was shaking her head, followed her into the dressing room. "Now, let's get me into this gown, shall we?" Sabine asked.

There was a knock at the door, and Brigitte went to answer it. From the dressing room, Sabine heard Brigitte's voice rise up, and she peeked around the corner out of curiosity. She recognized the profile of Brigitte's son, Michel, whose face hadn't changed since he was a little boy. Fair-skinned with deep, dark eyes and black hair, he was handsome, if a bit scruffy. Though she and Michel had been friendly as children--back when Sabine was a little rougher around the edges than her mother would have liked--their young friendship had come to an end long ago. Sabine had no use for him now. But he was Brigitte's son, so the Durands all tolerated his presence in the household from time to time. It was thereason he was even allowed upstairs. He had special consideration. Michel and his mother were very close, and Sabine had to admit that Michel was a good son for coming by so often to see his mother--even if it meant Sabine had to tolerate him when she wasn't in the mood.

Madame Durand hired Brigitte Bernard when Sabine was just a baby. She had come highly recommended, but she had a small baby herself, andshe would have to care for him in addition to Sabine. This was permissible to Madame Durand only because Brigitte had been the governess to a highly regarded family and that was just the kind of governess she had been seeking--not because she wanted Sabine to have the best care, Sabine knew. But because she wanted everyone in Paris to know that her daughter had the very best governess.

Michel had been a wonderful built-in playmate for Sabine, and he had always helped around the house, particularly with the gardening--he had anatural green thumb. But as they grew older and became teenagers, Madame Durand felt that it was time for him to go find work somewhere else. Brigitte had threatened to leave if Margaux wouldn't hire Michel to her staff--she would not have been able to bear being away from her only son. So Madame Durand had a choice to make: lose her daughter’s governess, who was by that time a favorite and trusted employee, or take on Brigitte's illegitimate son as a member of her staff.


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; 1 edition (September 9, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763633968
  • ASIN: B005Q69UQI
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,147,021 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I was born in Hershey, Pennsylvania. (Yes, that Hershey--the one with all the chocolate!) But then my family moved to Allentown, Pennsylvania where I got to grow up across the street from my best friend, ride bikes after school, and get wet to my ankles in the creek in my neighborhood, trying to save frogs from being swept away.

Then some things like junior high and high school happened and I was a cheerleader and a soccer player and a math-homework-avoider and a soap-opera watcher and an inventor of crazy-delicious after school snacks, and I was all kinds of other junior high and high school things. And then, I was lucky enough to go away to college, near the great city of Boston, Massachusetts where I learned a lot and met loads of interesting people and where I made very good friends with a lot of people from New York who dragged me back to New York City with them and well, that was the end of that.

I fell in love with NYC (it took a while but then wow! did I love it), and I met my husband there, and I found my career there, and I had my kids there. And now, because I am from Pennsylvania and because there is just something about a small town, I live in the lovely Port Washington, Long Island where New York City is just a hop, skip, and a train ride away (and where it is more appropriate to blast music while transporting children than it is on the Upper West Side--not that I didn't try).

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on July 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
It's 1776 in Paris, France, and while it isn't America, there is still discussion of the American Revolution. There is especially a lot of talk about Benjamin Franklin, the revolutionary American who is coming to visit Paris. All of the socially elite are planning parties in honor of his visit, and it is crucial that they are all perfect.

Sabine Durand's mother is no exception. She wants perfection for her latest party where Franklin is the guest of honor. She has even arranged for Sabine to be escorted by one of the most eligible bachelors in all of Paris. The thing is, Sabine couldn't care less. She's not caught up in the aristocratic lifestyle, and she actually cares about what is going on.

She soon rekindles her friendship with Michel, her nanny's son, and her mother is not at all pleased. Sabine doesn't care, though, as she goes off gallivanting with Michel and even gets the chance to meet Franklin. Sabine gets swept up in the meaning of the Revolution and really comes to form an opinion. Fueled by these new ideas of freedom, Sabine is determined to make a change in her life. She starts to break away from her controlling mother and stand up for herself.

Will Sabine succeed? And is there a possibility of maybe finding real love in this time of change?

This book is one of those historical fiction novels where the author just gets it all right. The facts were spot on, her description of the setting was great, and the overall atmosphere that she created was genuine.

Sabine's character was wonderful. She learned to stand up for herself and discover what really needed to be done in her life in order for her to be successful. She had the right amount of feistiness and seriousness to keep the reader intrigued in her life.
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By Jane Austen on June 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The Revolution of Sabine was a very good story for I was able to relate directly to Sabine. The author wrote very well in describing Sabine, and her feelings. I never really appreciated the history and beauty of America. I realized something (that I never realized before) of WHY we were ABLE to start something equal and new. We started it in a different world. Any other country (Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, etc) would not and could not start it because you always have ties or the history to look back and bring a little into the future too. America started fresh; with people from everywhere. The ONLY problem that I had with this book is that there wasn't enough romance in it; Sabine tells us that she loves him...and...I dont wasn't enough...The story was superb though.
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By karsiyaka on November 17, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book thinking it was a novel written for grown-ups but I think it is a middle school level long story. The simplistic story line is not here or there. By looking at the behaviors of the characters in the book and their interpersonal interactions, they sound and act like people from the twenty-first century in the U.S and not like European people from the eighteen century. As an adult book it gets three stars and four as a long story for young girls.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Tanenbaum VINE VOICE on December 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In 1776 Paris, Sabine's life is tightly controlled by the social rules in her aristocratic household. In this coming of age tale, the heroine has her portrait painted by Fragonard, meets Benjamin Franklin, and is introduced to Voltaire's Candide and revolutionary ideas. No longer content to marry the aristocrat selected for her, Sabine rebels against her upbringing and dreams of going to America with the son of her governess. This book is a fun read about pre-revolutionary Paris; perhaps not the most realistic in terms of mixing of social classes at that time. The novel is full of interesting historical details; but why does the author not provide a reproduction of the actual Fragonard painting the heroine is sitting for (a real work of art by the French master)? Most young readers will not realize that the painting in question is an actual work of art they can see in a book or on-line; I would have liked to see some kind of note by the author at the least about where to see the painting.
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