26 DECEMBER 1931, Page 28

The story of Marie de Rohan, Duchess de Chevreuse, lends

itself perfectly to the literary methods of the modern romantic historian. Connected by blood or marriage with the noblest houses of France, The !fatiguing Duchess (John Hamilton. 15s.) came while still a very young girl to the French Court as a maid of honour to Anne of Austria. Her father had been the intimate friend and constant companion of Henry of Navarre, and Court life, at least by hearsay, was nothing strange to his young daughter. Marie could not remember her mother. She and her brother were brought up in their father's castle at Couzieres, near Tours. Devoted to one another, they did exactly as they liked. Marie's life, till she came to Court had been " one long hilarious escapade." The girl often wore her brother's clothes and shared all his diversions. To- gether they hunted, swam, fenced and steeple-chased and while she became " more and more distractingly feminine " she " absorbed a masculine outlook on life and its amenities," and even in her 'teens showed, according to a contemporary, " a fascinating Fift, of coquetry and an alarming lightness of demeanour." With the morals of a street arab and the manners of a grande dame " without a fear or a scruple, never deserting a friend nor forgiving an enemy, she danced through life to an exceptionally peaceful and happy old age. She did a great deal of mischief in many lands. Her lovers were in- numerable, all sorts and conditions of men adored her. She touched the sober heart of Charles the First, and roused in Richelieu the passions of love and hatred. The word " spiri- ted " describes Miss Dorothy de Brissac's clever biography from start to finish.