Celebrated Crimes 9: La Constantin
Publisher: Freshwater Seas
Date: November 2014
Duration: 2 hours 48 minutes
To paraphrase the note from the translator, The Celebrated Crimes of Alexandre Dumas père was not written for children. The novelist has spared no language—has minced no words—to describe violent scenes of violent times.
In this, the ninth of the series, Dumas uses the lives of two women, Angelique-Louise de Guerchi and Josephine-Charlotte Boullenois, and the men who, to put it bluntly, control their lives. Most of the book is taken up with the doings and duels of those men, which ultimately lead to the untimely deaths of the two women. The agent of those deaths, the widow and midwife La Constantin, hardly appears in the story at all!
The place is Paris; the time is the period of civil war in France known as the Fronde. It is a time when power has fragmented; even a noble can find himself in the power of a commoner, and justice is a rare commodity. Dumas himself warns us not to seek the records of these cases, for this was not an age much concerned with the lives of more or less ordinary people; the great had bigger fish to fry. He lays no great stress upon it, but there is a very clear indictment of the society of that time, and a very clear portrait of the helplessness of women of the day.
A Freshwater Seas production.