Becoming Marie Antoinette by Juliet Grey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
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.
This book was very interesting. History has never been my thing, so I have zero background knowledge about Marie Antoinette. A note from the author states that while Becoming Marie Antoinette is a work of fiction, the events are based on facts.
Forget the whole fairy princess idea. The daughters of royalty were often nothing more than pawns in the politics of establishing alliances between countries. I found one chapter of the book to be particularly representative of the sacrifice required of Marie. Titled The Remise, it describes how a 5 room wooden pavilion had been built – two rooms on the Austrian side and two rooms on the French side, with a “neutral” room in the middle. Marie had to give up everything that was Austrian – her clothes, her personal help, even her dog! She was only allowed to take her deceased father’s watch and that was because her father had been born in France.
It was in this middle room that the contract of Marie’s marriage to Louis August was read out loud. She then said goodbye to everything Austrian. The door to the Austrian side was closed and that was that. Marie was never to return to Austria. Can you image doing this at the age of fourteen? Saying goodbye to everything you grew up with – family, friends, lifestyle and even her native language.
So poor little Marie, age fourteen, uneducated in the political maneuverings of the French court, goes off to marry someone she has never met and to shoulder the burden of improving the alliance between Austria and France.
The rest of the book entails Marie’s early years as the Dauphine of France. It ends when Marie and Louis become king and queen of France.
Becoming Marie Antoinette was published in August, 2011 and is book one of a trilogy. The second book, due out in 2012, is called Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow. The third book is yet untitled.
Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishers for allowing me to read this copy.
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