Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Becoming Marie Antoinette by Juliet Gray
Becoming Marie Antoinette is the first installment of the Marie Antoinette trilogy by Juliet Gray. This is a fun and educational read.
I previously knew very little about Marie Antoinette, only that she was the queen of France who was beheaded during the French Revolution and that she once said, of the starving masses, "Let them eat cake!" Now, I feel sympathetic toward her, having the weight of the world placed upon her young shoulders beginning at the tender age of 10, when it was first suggested that she should marry Louis XVI and cement the treaty between Austria and France. She was constantly reprimanded by her ambitious mother, who withheld the simplest demonstrations of affection or comfort, then at 14 sent to Versailles without the slightest hope of ever seeing her beloved Austria or family ever again.
Once married and living in the palace at Versailles, I admire the way our heroine strove diligently to follow the often ridiculous French etiquette and to live above reproach. It was also fun to read about the crazy behavior of the upper echelon and to hear about the unusual circumstances of Marie Antoinette's marriage with a husband so shy that he could barely touch her for years and how she learned to love him, offering patience and understanding for all his shortcomings.
And, just for the record, Marie Antoinette never did say, "Let them eat cake!"
This novel ends as Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI ascend the throne of France, and I am eagerly anticipating the next two books to learn how the rest of her story unfolds.