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A Novel of Marie Antoinette

Book - 2006 | 1st ed
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A fictional tale of the life of Marie Antoinette presents the story of a teenage empress's daughter who is forced to leave her family home to marry the future king of France and who rebels against the formality and rigid protocol of court life.
"Marie Antoinette was a child of fourteen when her mother, the Empress of Austria, arranged for her to leave her family and her country to become the wife of the fifteen-year-old Dauphin, the future King of France. Coming of age in the most public of arenas--eager to be a good wife and strong queen--she warmly embraces her adopted nation and its citizens. She shows her new husband nothing but love and encouragement, though he repeatedly fails to consummate their marriage and in so doing is unable to give what she and the people of France desire most: a child and an heir to the throne. Deeply disappointed and isolated in her own intimate circle, and apart from the social life of the court, she allows herself to remain ignorant of the country's growing economic and political crises, even as poor harvests, bitter winters, war debts, and poverty precipitate rebellion and revenge. The young queen, once beloved by the common folk, becomes a target of scorn, cruelty, and hatred as she, the court's nobles, and the rest of the royal family are caught up in the nightmarish violence of a murderous time called "the Terror." With penetrating insight and with wondrous narrative skill, Sena Jeter Naslund offers an intimate, fresh, heartbreaking, and dramatic reimagining of this truly compelling woman that goes far beyond popular myth--and she makes a bygone time of tumultuous change as real to us as the one we are living in now."--Publisher's website.
Publisher: New York : William Morrow, ©2006
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780060825393
Characteristics: xiv, 545 pages ; 24 cm


From Library Staff

A very human Marie Antoinette invites readers to live her story as she herself experiences it. From the lush gardens of Versailles to the lights and gaiety of Paris, the verdant countryside of France, and finally the stark and terrifying isolation of a prison cell.

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ChristchurchLib Feb 17, 2015

"Like everyone, I am born naked," confesses Marie Antoinette. Unlike everyone, however, her "birth" occurs at age 14 when Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna, Archduchess of Austria, becomes engaged to the future King Louis XVI of France and sheds her former identity to reinvent herself as a queen. Despite her beauty and charm, Marie Antoinette struggles to win over the French court, not to mention the French people, who have become increasingly dissatisfied with their extravagant, dissolute rulers. For more about "L'Autrichienne," try Juliet Grey's Marie Antoinette Trilogy (which begins with Becoming Marie Antoinette) or Carolly Erickson's The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette. Historical Fiction newsletter February 2015.

Nov 29, 2006

Everyone knows that Marie Antoinette was a bubble head, but this novel shows her as a very charming bubble head. The depiction of opulence in a lifestyle that was truly enviable is accurately described in a language that helps you to forget her self centered nature. But what can you expect? Brought up to be married off at an early age, she drifts through court life with nary a thought for repercussions for heedless actions. At the end she only cares about how dignified she can be while placing her head on the guillotine, and in one fell swoop her voice was silenced forever. Not a life I admire, but I think this is a very admirable portrayal of a wasted life. Truly that is a tragedy

Oct 28, 2006

Having enjoyed Naslund's "Ahab's Wife" previously, I was looking forward to her new historical fiction about Marie Antoinette. The story begins as 14-year-old Marie, daughter of the Empress of Austria, journeys to France to wed the 15-year-old Dauphin (Louis XVI); and ends with her memorable death at the guillotine during the French Revolution. Throughout I had to keep reminding myself that, although intensely researched, this was a work of fiction -- it was like reading the intimate thoughts from someone's diary. I felt both sympathy for Marie and the royal family and pity at their self-absorption and naïveté. The reader is not made to think they are truly evil or ruthless people, but that the fault perhaps lies in how they are raised in a world of true opulence; isolated, untouched and unaffected by the reality, and often the plights, of the average citizen.


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