The Red Widow: The Scandal That Shook Paris and the Woman Behind It All

Sourcebooks. Sept. 2022. 252p. ISBN 9781728226323. $26.99. CRIME
Historian Horowitz (women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, Washington and Lee Univ.; Friendship and Politics in Post-Revolutionary France) presents a page-turning true crime thriller featuring real-life femme fatale Marguerite “Meg” Steinheil. Trapped in a loveless marriage with an unsuccessful artist twenty years her senior, Meg found herself using her body as a tool to climb through the Parisian social hierarchy in 1889. Meg was known for taking on lovers, most notably the French president, who could aid her social mobility. She was determined to use any tool at her disposal, including sex, blackmail, and possibly even murder, to reach the upper echelon of society. When her husband and mother were found dead, Meg and the life she scrupulously built began to come into question. True crime readers will appreciate the fast-paced, well researched narrative, and are sure to be drawn in by this tale. Horowitz builds empathy for Meg, first in her descriptions of her humble upbringing and lost love, and later in her unhappy marriage and the misogyny and classism she faces as an adult.
VERDICT Readers will be captivated by Meg’s story and Horowitz’s clever crafting of her tale.
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