Who doesn’t love a story of scandal and intrigue, all entangled in a giant web woven by a femme fatale? Especially if it’s true.
Marguerite “Meg” Steinheil was born in Paris into a middle-class family—much to her own dissatisfaction. Full of ambition, Meg spent much of her life—and went to astonishingly scandalous lengths—trying to claw her way up the Parisian social ladder.
In an unhappy marriage to an unsuccessful artist (20 years older than her), Meg decided to use her body to gain the social momentum and wealth accumulation she desired. She took on wealthy men as lovers—saturating herself in the glitz and glamor of Paris’ social elite class. Through charming these wealthy men, she began to climb into the world of money and visibility that she so desired.
It wasn’t all glamorous, however; using the seductions of her body had a darker side to it. It brought her under intense scrutiny and subjected her to gossip—imagine the double standards of a misogynistic society that disdains a woman who does whatever she pleases? Meg was a selfish and unapologetic woman, determined to get what she wanted at all costs. When men played that game, no one blinked an eye…but when a woman did it? She became the talk of the town.
In her quest to rise in social status, Meg left a trail of destruction and drama wherever she went—eventually earning the monicker the “Red Widow”, after surviving a supposed home invasion that left both her mother and husband dead. In this incident, Meg was discovered tied to the bed—the dead bodies of her husband and mother in another room. While there was no evidence to convict her of their murders, Meg’s hands were red in the eyes of public opinion.
The Red Widow by Sarah Horowitz tells Meg’s story with bold and unflinching honesty. It doesn’t demonize her but it doesn’t glorify her either: it simply tells the truth about Meg’s complicated and morally ambiguous life.
Harold Schechter, author of Hell's Princess: The Mystery of Belle Guinness, Butcher of Men, says The Red Widow is "An unforgettable portrait of a woman who became one of the most notorious figures of her day and whose scandalous story sheds fascinating light not only on her own tumultuous time but ours as well."
A harrowing true tale of sex, scandal, and murder, The Red Widow tells the truth about Meg: a woman determined to rise―no matter the cost.