A powerful, engrossing story of a biracial heiress who escapes to Paris when the Haitian Revolution burns across her island home. But as she works her way into the inner circle of Robespierre and his mistress, she learns that not even oceans can stop the flames of revolution.
Sylvie de Rosiers, as the daughter of a rich planter and an enslaved woman, enjoys the comforts of a lady in 1791 Saint-Domingue society. But while she was born to privilege, she was never fully accepted by island elites. After a violent rebellion begins the Haitian Revolution, Sylvie and her brother leave their family and old lives behind to flee unwittingly into another uprising—in austere and radical Paris. Sylvie quickly becomes enamored with the aims of the Revolution, as well as with the revolutionaries themselves—most notably Maximilien Robespierre and his mistress, Cornélie Duplay.
As a rising leader and abolitionist, Robespierre sees an opportunity to exploit Sylvie’s race and abandonment of her aristocratic roots as an example of his ideals, while the strong-willed Cornélie offers Sylvie safe harbor and guidance in free thought. Sylvie battles with her past complicity in a slave society and her future within this new world order as she finds herself increasingly torn between Robespierre's ideology and Cornélie's love.
When the Reign of Terror descends, Sylvie must decide whether to become an accomplice while a new empire rises on the bones of innocents…or risk losing her head.
About the Author
Zoe Sivak advocates for diverse stories and characters in historical fiction. In her writing, she strives to explore famous male figures through the lenses of the women beside them—women who could have existed, even if history left them behind. When not engrossed in historical research, Zoe is pursuing both her Juris Doctor and a master of public health in Philadelphia.
“A moving retelling of the true events of the Haitian and French Revolutions wound together with an imaginative fictional heroine. Zoe Sivak pens a timely and essential tale that will linger long in the memory!”
—Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Diamond Eye
“[B]rings the Haitian and French Revolutions to life for the reader with rich, vivid, and unflinching detail through the eyes of an unforgettable heroine. Zoe Sivak’s extraordinary debut is a moving, powerful story that is a must-read for historical fiction readers!”
—Chanel Cleeton, New York Times bestselling author of Our Last Days in Barcelona
“This beautifully written book encompasses so much—family ties, sibling resentment, racism, questions about belonging, and the meaning of love. With her meticulous research and keen insights, Zoe Sivak had me happily diving back into French history and turning the pages into the night.”
—Janet Skeslien Charles, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Library
“A bold and daring look at identity, sexuality, rebellion, and racism as told through the eyes of a remarkable woman…. Zoe Sivak has brilliantly woven her exquisite writing together with her meticulous level of research to create a masterful and highly relevant novel.”
—Renée Rosen, USA Today bestselling author of The Social Graces
“The Haitian Revolution of the 1790s kicks off an adventurous journey…. Sivak creates riveting characters and infuses historical figures in[to] a compelling novel about a self-centered girl who grows into a strong-minded woman in a triumphant tale.”
—Denny S. Bryce, author of In the Face of the Sun
“A masterful and powerful debut novel that unflinchingly explores complicity in society’s evils, the hope and horror of revolution, and both the liberation and disillusionment that can come from fighting for a better world. Zoe Sivak is a bold and bright new voice in historical fiction, and we are lucky to have her.”
—Alyssa Palombo, author of The Borgia Confessions
“This book is a powerful, engrossing retelling of the Haitian and French Revolutions from the point of view of a biracial woman being pulled towards the flames of both.”
"[A] moving historical novel....the book encompasses love, resentment, racism, colorism, identity, and what it means to belong, making this debut novel one that is nearly impossible to put down."
“Did you know a violent slave uprising in Haiti had a rippling effects in France? In this exciting, provocative historical novel, a 1700s bisexual, Black heiress flees from Saint-Domingue to Paris, only to find herself caught up in the French Revolution.”
“A richly imagined work of historical women’s fiction incorporating themes of diversity and equality very relevant today, this thrilling debut will give book clubs much to discuss.”
—Library Journal, (starred review)
"Sivak’s debut novel is replete with rich details of eighteenth-century life, her characters freely mingling with historical figures and events. Readers will appreciate the tour through French history."
“Sivak expertly depicts Sylvie’s growing consciousness of the oppressed and of the revolution’s contradictions. Readers will be hooked.”