Saturday, March 30, 2013

Review: Becoming Marie Antoinette (Marie Antoinette #1), by Juliet Grey

Title: Becoming Marie Antoinette (Marie Antoinette #1)
Author: Juliet Grey
Format: eGalley
Source: NetGalley

From Goodreads: "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 changeeverything 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.

Filled with smart history, treacherous rivalries, lavish clothes, and sparkling jewels, Becoming Marie Antoinette will utterly captivate fiction and history lovers alike."

My Opinion: Everything I know about Marie Antoinette I learned in school during history class, which was more of an overview of her time as the last queen of France, mostly centering on the French Revolution, her execution, and of course, the famous phrase "let them eat cake." When I saw this book listed on NetGalley I was instantly curious to learn more about the girl Maria Antonia, in essence what events shaped her into the woman and queen she would one day become. I wasn't disappointed either! I found her story fascinating, starting out as a wide eyed innocent who was molded by a domineering mother into the most powerful  woman in France. She grew up relatively sheltered as the youngest daughter (her mother had 16 children!) of the Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, and was thrust into the high drama that was the court at Versailles at the tender age of 14. There was so much intrigue and so many rules of conduct and etiquette that she had to learn, as any misstep could lead to crushing humiliation and loss of social standing, which would have been disastrous as she was under the command of her mother to get close to the King of France, her husband's grandfather, Louis, to strengthen the political ties between France and Austria. Add to this, her inability to get her husband, Louis Auguste, to consummate her marriage so they could produce an heir, which was vital to the succession of the monarchy, not to mention her own personal well-being since the Catholic church back then considered being a barren royal as worse than adultery!

I felt that this book did a great job at balancing historical fact with a compelling fictional story. The facts lent credence to the story, which in turn gave it an authenticity that wouldn't have been there had it just been a fictional novel about a historical figure. I look forward to reading the next installment of this compelling trilogy because even though I know how it will eventually turn out, I look forward to continuing the journey and finding out where the author is going to take me next :D

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