Books: French Circe

MISTRESS TO AN AGE (500 pp.)—J. Chrlsfopher Herold—Bobbs-Merrill ($5.95).

The title of this biography puts both the author's point of view and his heroine in a nutshell—quite an achievement, considering that Germaine de Staël was probably the largest, loudest, lustiest woman who ever strode the pages of French history. Riding the great waves of social upheaval during and after the Revolution, Germaine exhausted her lovers, exasperated her friends, maddened her rulers.

Her father was Jacques Necker, Louis XVI's famed moneyman, who virtually ran France. At 19, Germaine was married off to Sweden's Baron Eric Magnus de Staël-Holstein in a deal of unromantic grandeur...

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