The Time-Travelling Fashionista at the Palace of Marie Antoinette, by Bianca Turetsky, is the second adventure of Louise--12 years old, connoisseur of vintage fashion, and survivor of the Titanic on her first trip back to the past. The two strange ladies who sold her the dress that took her through time are having another open house, and Louise is once again invited.
This time it's a blue mid-18th century dress that catches Louise's eye...and she surreptitiously tries it on. It transports her back to Versailles, where young Marie Antoinette is the center of a giddy whirl of beautiful clothes, lavish food, and sumptuous surroundings (plus a few nasty smells). Louise (now a lady-in-waiting) is, naturally, charmed by the clothes, but once her wonder fades a bit, she begins to fear for the princess. Louise knows the Revolution is coming, and she can see first hand the grave injustices that will set it off. And, like so many time travellers, she's worried about getting home safely again....
This is first and foremost a book to give to girls who love beautiful dresses. Turetsky does not skip on her descriptions, and there are many beautiful illustrations by Sandra Suy. There's also a lot of designer name dropping--Louise is nothing if not knowledgeable about her obsession. Even though I don't share her passion, I do appreciate a heroine who's focused, and don't object to learning new things! And the dresses do sound lovely.
The plot is somewhat thin, mainly involving descriptions of what Louise sees, and what she thinks about it. She remains an outsider, observing rather than interacting all that much with those around her. There's a smidge of (somewhat improbable) romance, and a whiff of danger to come, but apart from the central fact that she's gone back in time, nothing much happens.
Turetsky does give a hint that there is more backstory to the whole business of time travelling fashionistas than was apparent at first, which stirred my interest. The fact that there are others who time travel via clothes opens up all sorts of possibilities that could lift Louise's adventures to a new level.
Although Louise's second adventure didn't work as well for me as her first, it's still a pleasantly readable and somewhat educational excursion to the past that should find many fans in its target audience of middle school girls. They will probably appreciate the actual glitter on the cover more than I did, too!
(Thanks in part to the glitter, and to the lovely pictures, this is the sort of book that has "present" written all over it. It would work beautifully paired with any number of fashion designing kits and crafts).
(review copy received from the publishers for Cybils consideration)