Among the pleasures of Brussels when the armies gathered before, and came back in broken fragments after, the battle of Waterloo. She is a perceptive delineator of people: in sketches of suitors both longed-for and unwanted—in which, however, discretion and reticence somewhat mute the story—of her husband's vegetable gardening, or her small son getting his inoculation for smallpox. She is, besides, equally skilled in rendering interiority: her early painting of scenes in which romantic interest is hinted or implied rather than expressed; the ups and downs of her whirlwind, bilingual, middle-aged courtship; the feelings with which, as an elderly wife, she watched from an upstairs window her beloved, also elderly husband mount his horse and ride off with the French monarchist army; and those with which she made her way, alone, among real, unpredictable dangers to join him.
's life-writing are the way it revels in nonce-words and other innovative uses of language, and the play it makes with dramatic techniques like scene-setting and dialogue. Many famous passages reflect her vivid apprehension of the world around her, and her ability to capture it in language: the sequence about her entry into the limelight as a published author; her accounts of
and other famous figures; her moonlight conversation with the mad
after he had pursued her and she had run away; steady attendance at the trial of
; the harrowing detail of her unanaethetized mastectomy; the turmoil of living in