Monday, August 8, 2011

Review: Becoming Marie Antoinette by Juliet Grey

Becoming Marie Antoinette: A Novel
This enthralling confection of a novel, the first in a new trilogy, follows the transformation of a coddled Austrian archduchess into the reckless, powerful, beautiful queen Marie Antoinette.

Why must it be me? I wondered. When I am so clearly inadequate to my destiny?

Raised alongside her numerous brothers and sisters by the formidable empress of Austria, ten-year-old Maria Antonia knew that her idyllic existence would one day be sacrificed to her mother’s political ambitions. What she never anticipated was that the day in question would come so soon.

Before she can journey from sunlit picnics with her sisters in Vienna to the glitter, glamour, and gossip of Versailles, Antonia must change everything about herself in order to be accepted as dauphine of France and the wife of the awkward teenage boy who will one day be Louis XVI. Yet nothing can prepare her for the ingenuity and influence it will take to become queen.
- Synopsis from Goodreads

I'm a bit of a sucker for history. I particularly love learning about the women of history. They fascinate me. These women are more than pawns to be married off or bear children. They are intelligent and witty and far more important than some people would like to portray them.

I tend to gravitate towards English history. I particularly enjoy Tudor history (because, who doesn't?!?). So, my knowledge of Marie Antoinette is sadly lacking. She's always just been a poor girl who likes cake and got her head chopped off. Ok, my knowledge isn't that limited but I've never studied her in depth.

I don't know why it's taken me so long. Becoming Marie Antoinette is the first of a trilogy about the life of the doomed queen and follows her childhood in Austria, her marriage to Louis Auguste and ends with the death of Louis XV and the beginning of her reign as queen of France. Firstly, I love that this story has been broken into several books so that each stage of her life can be told in great detail.

She begins as a rambunctious ten year old who soon learns of her planned marriage. I couldn't imagine being told at ten that I was basically engaged. For the next few years she begins a transformation, a physical and mental makeover that is supposed to lead to only one thing, giving birth to a son as soon as humanly possible. Again, it's a life I couldn't even begin to imagine.

The only downfall to historical fiction like this is knowing how it all turns out. I spent 400+ pages falling in love with this sweet, loving girl and yet, I know how things turn out for her and if you've ever taken a history class, you know it's not good. Despite knowing how the journey will end, it was still a fascinating ride and I'm looking forward to the next book.

*Disclaimer- I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and unbiased review


Carol N Wong said...

I have an Arc of this to read and review. So glad that you like it so much. Can't wait to get to it.

The Mistress of the Dark said...

I want to read this one sooo badly. I put in at net galley for it..fingers crossed I get to read it.

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