If you love historic ghost stories like I do, no doubt you have heard the tale of the infamous Madame Lalaurie. In 1834 when her opulent mansion located in New Orleans’ French Quarter caught fire unspeakable horrors were discovered in the attic. Firemen found naked slaves, starved and mutilated, some the victims of horrific medical experiments performed by Madame’s husband, a doctor interested in deformities, while, cool as a cucumber, Madame implored them to save her fine art and furniture and then fled in her coach to evade mob justice, supposedly living out the rest of her life exiled in Paris until she was killed by a wild boar in a hunting accident. For over 150 years the tale has endured with 1140 Rue Royal being pointed out as New Orleans’ most haunted house.
But is the story true? Incredibly, until now, there has been no in depth investigation of the truth behind this tale of terror. The authors offer us a concise, straightforward account of the few facts known about Madame Lalaurie’s genteel Creole upbringing, her life as a high society belle presiding over balls and parties at plantations and mansions, her three marriages, and the births of her children. It contains numerous quotations from various historical sources not readily available to the average reader, which some readers might find distracting and disruptive to the narrative whilst others will appreciate the air of authenticity it lends. The authors do a thorough, meticulous job of exploring every facet of the legend, from genealogy to hauntings and alleged paranormal activity at the house on Royal Street, they even include a chapter on depictions of Madame Lalaurie in popular culture and show how the legend grew and evolved with each telling.
This is one of those books I call “don’t shoot the messenger books” in which it is revealed that the scant facts don’t really support the oft-told sensational story once the embroidered layers are stripped away like a southern belle’s petticoats, but that is not the authors’ fault, they have done an admirable job of exposing the naked truth.
To read more about their research please visit http://www.mad-madame-lalaurie.com/