ONE FOR ALL: A NOVEL, by Lillie Lainoff, Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), March 8, 2022, Hardcover, $18.99 (young adult)
A girl with a chronic illness joins a secret group of Musketeers in Lillie Lainoff’s debut novel, One for All.
Tania de Batz is most herself with a sword in her hand. Everyone thinks her near-constant dizziness makes her weak, nothing but “a sick girl.” But Tania wants to be strong, independent, a fencer like her father―a former Musketeer and her greatest champion. Then Papa is brutally, mysteriously murdered. His dying wish? For Tania to attend finishing school. But L’Académie des Mariées, Tania realizes, is no finishing school. It’s a secret training ground for new Musketeers: women who are socialites on the surface, but strap daggers under their skirts, seduce men into giving up dangerous secrets, and protect France from downfall. And they don’t shy away from a sword fight.
With her newfound sisters at her side, Tania feels that she has a purpose, that she belongs. But then she meets Étienne, her target in uncovering a potential assassination plot. He’s kind, charming ― and might have information about what really happened to her father. Torn between duty and dizzying emotion, Tania will have to decide where her loyalties lie…or risk losing everything she’s ever wanted. —Synopsis provided by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Billed as a feminist retelling of Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers, One for All mostly succeeds. Although I found myself thinking of it as inspired by Dumas’ work rather than retelling it.
Author Lillie Lainoff takes readers into a world where women work in secret to protect France. It’s not a hard ask, given how many women have done and do that in real life. In fact, that actually adds weight to the narrative.
Given the source material, readers should expect sword fighting, intrigue and mystery, and they are rewarded with it.
The problem comes more in the overall execution, which can be slow at times and lacks that finesse you might expect from a Musketeer. It’s not that One for All isn’t worth reading, it’s just that you have to put in your time. It’s not a book that you’ll finish in one or even two sittings. I enjoyed the process, but I probably won’t be revisiting it anytime soon.
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