Memoirs of Madame De La Tour Du Pin

translated by Felice Harcourt. McCall, $8.95. She was born in 1770, daughter of the owner and hereditary commander of one of those Irish regiments that had served France ever since the Stuart debacle at the Boyne. The Dillons were not wild-goose sword peddlers. Discretion at the right moment had retrieved the Irish estates; marriages in France and England were to persons of impressive pedigree; the Dillon tail of titled cousins ran from Western Europe across Britain and on into the New World. Despite an upbringing that should have produced a neurotic mess, Henrietta-Lucy turned out an intelligent, courageous, resourceful woman who also possessed exquisite manners, unfailing tact, and the iron self-control required to maintain these qualities. Thanks to the blue-blooded Mafia, she began as lady-in-waiting to Marie Antoinette. Later she and her husband were honestly admiring supporters of Napoleon. She briefly attended on the dreadful Queen of Spain, that witch painted by Goya. During the Terror, she and her husband farmed in New York State, where Madame made her own clothes, washed her own laundry, and sold her own butter, recording this profitable operation with justified pride and a wry appreciation of its incongruity. In short, for some thirty years, look for the action and there was Madame also. Her memoirs, written when she was old and poor and in exile, are utterly fascinating, full of sharp observation, and a flickering of light, ironic humor. The present translation, somewhat abridged, is equipped with index, appendices, and the truly indispensable family tree.