My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Loomis is a perfect example of a very old fashioned ideal; the sympathetic biographer. He genuinely likes the DuBarry, and reading this book, it's hard not to. She seems a lovely woman: beautiful, bright, generous and kind. That such a charming creature should have come to such a gruesome end, as I read Loomis, speaks more to the barbarous nature of man's competition for power than to the corruption of the society that made this ravishing girl first a whore and then, briefly, something very like a queen. I don't say, for the purpose of this biography that the author is wrong. Still, while Loomis is all too quick to dismiss earlier historians like the great Carlyle as judgmental puritans and preachers, he might have spared a mention to the grotesque inequalities and genuine iniquities that brought the mob to the good lady's door. Yet, interestingly, not unlike her earlier biographers, the Goncourts, of whose rather wishful researches he disapproves and disproves, Stanley Loomis is still decidedly on the side of romance rather than political or economic analysis. It works. One can't help but love the woman. So, within the more limited sphere of his narrative, Loomis does bring not only the DuBarry, but her friends and enemies back to life, with all their extravagant charm and dazzling insularity intact, and that is an admirable job, well done.