A Novel of the French Revolution’s Women
October 2019 Issue
A Book Review by Meredith Millen Deal
It isn’t unusual for a group of six women authors, who write in similar genres to be friends, but to coordinate their talents and schedules to create what I predict soon to be a best-selling collaboration novel on the historical women of the French Revolution, is just pure genius.
Ribbons of Scarlet, with foreword by Allison Pataki (which makes seven women writers) is written by Kate Quinn, Stephanie Dray, Laura Kamoie, Sophie Perinot, Heather Webb and E. Knight, all New York Times bestselling authors and storytellers extraordinaire.
Each of the six knowledgeable authors dove into the lives of specific empowered French women, who all played major real life roles during the French Revolution and the following Reign of Terror. Their love of historical research and talented writings brings into focus one of the most dangerous of times in history. As I read, I felt each character’s worries, anguish and sometimes even jubilation, as each unique personal history was unveiled. It was a dangerous time for men, but even more so for many brave and emboldened women of France.
Their causes and cries? Liberty, equality and sorority, which is not unlike the call in many modern-day women’s missions.
I read this book with rapt curiosity, turning each page with great anticipation, applauding each heroine’s pursuit and then, with sorrow in revealed heartaches. Quite interesting, within each six book parts, a scarlet ribbon is woven into the storyline of each main character, so apropos and genius in design, tying these historical lives together for all to appreciate today.
I was honored to learn some Ribbons of Scarlet insight from one of the six Scarlet Sisters, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of historical fiction, Kate Quinn. Here are some of her observations:
Do all six (of you) Scarlet Sisters consider yourselves historical fiction writers?
“I would say we all consider ourselves writers of historical women’s fiction. We love to do insane research; all historical novelists do. And we all have a passion for female-centric stories where there tends to be romance and action involved, and lots and lots of historical details.
What stands out about the featured women’s views in your group novel as to how they lived their lives back then?
“The thing a lot of us found astounding was just how modern those views were! We thought we should fact check this more, or others will think we are writing about 20th century feminists.
They were really out there and had so many advanced views for their time. These are women who were talking about equal voting rights, the abolishment of slavery and votes for men and women of color. They were talking about these kinds of advancements and distribution of property—things you would think you would not hear being discussed out loud. But they were way ahead of their time in a lot of ways!
Have all six of you been friends for a while?
“We are all very good friends for years and were friends long before this project came into being. Several of us have collaborated before and done other collaborations on other topics. This is the latest in our list and our first-time for an all-female line up of writers. We really thought that important because the goal with this book is to not just to show the story of the French Revolution, but the revolution through the eyes of the women who were there. Knowing each other beforehand made the project appealing and that we would all get to work with each other.
The book title and Scarlet Sisters: Did it all grow organically?
“Yes, I can’t recall how the title came to be, except ribbons seemed to work, being a very female adaptation with scarlet being for blood, passion and fighting and everything else tied up with that. It really stuck once we had it. We made sure we wove in a scarlet ribbon in each section.
We would have a six-way chatroom open so if anyone had a question, or had something to share with their research, or when they were writing, they could pop-in and (sort of) ask the other five about it. We first called ourselves the Bastille Babes. Then it morphed into Scarlet Sisters.
What do you hope readers will derive based on the historical characters you and your Scarlet Sisters have brought to life?
“To be courageous in pursuing the rights you have earned and also to remember the women who have come before you. They may not have succeeded in their fight, but they considered the fight worth having.
MEET THE AUTHORS
October 7th: #ScarletSisters Book Tour Comes
to St. Simons Island
7-9 p.m., St. Simons Casino Building, Room 108, Beachview Drive. Sponsored by the St. Simons Literary Guild, meet the authors: Stephanie Dray, Laura Kamoie, E. Knight, Kate Quinn and Sophie Perinot, who will talk about their book collaboration. RSVP: $10 guests/free for guild members. Log on to eventbrite.com to purchase tickets. For more information: litguildssi.org/events. Books available for sale. See you there!