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The Little Madeleine by Mrs Robert Henrey

As a historical novelist I enjoy reading about eras which have gone with the wind. I have just re-read The Little Madeleine by Mrs Robert Henrey, which relates the joys and sorrows of Madeleine, a French girl, loved by her mother, who earned a living as a talented seamstress, and her father, ‘a picturesque figure from the Midi.’

"Mrs Henrey’s autobiography is the story of her girlhood in Montmartre and the wasteland near the Paris fortifications, or city walls, where the apache wielded his knife.

Her mother not only sewed for her customers, she also made ‘adorable’ clothes for Madeleine.

The autobiography brings to life the people and scenes of Madeleine’s childhood along with its few joys and many difficulties. The author never indulges in self pity when revealing her impoverished childhood with touching honesty whether she is writing about a street musician murdered by apaches, her experiences in the 1st world war, her intermittent ill-health probably due to being under-nourished, and her determination to excel at school.

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