Friday, January 06, 2006

The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette - Carolly Erickson (January/06)


I am off to a slow start this month, this is only the second book I have read. My friends were home from university, so I was there a lot, and then I had to work and stuff. I used to be able to read at work, but it has been going badly lately. I did read this book in one day, though. I had a bad night the night before and decided I deserved to spend the day reading. It is a book of the month for a book forum I go to.

I really enjoy books that are written in journal-style for some reason, so this book looked promising to me. It is a new release, only came out in 2005. I did some looking on the author, Carolly Erickson, and found that she generally a non-fiction author of books about different famous people from many royal courts. This novel, then, is one of her few (if only) fiction novel. To read it you are supposed to pretend that Marie Antoinette had a hidden diary leading from just before her marriage to her ultimate execution. You would think that this book would be uninteresting because most people know that Antoinette would end up being beheaded, but the little details that Erickson adds in make the book enjoyable.

There are many characters covered in this novel. There is her first love, Eric, who is a servant in the horse barn at her family home. He makes appearances throughout her entries, and while they never go farther than a few kisses, he is dedicated to her. The next male she encounters is her husband, Louis XVI. He is a strange character in the book. He does not handle groups or people very well, and would prefer to spemd time on his own documenting the plant life around the castle. He is an unlikely king, but in the end he gains a dedication to the throne that will be the end of him and his family. The last male character is Marie's lover, called Axel. He is a representative of Sweden at the court and the most beautiful person Marie has ever seen. He is dedicated to her, and risks everything in an attempt to save her.

The novel starts when Antoinette is 13 and carries on well into her 30's when France is in unrest and decides that they do not need a king anymore. Her and Louis have two children together that live - a girl and a boy. With the long time frame, many characters come and go, leaving you with many different views of the court life and the people that make it up. You feel sorry for the end, but you also know that things could have been avoided. Louis was stubborn and Marie most of the time lived in a dream world. They both did not seem to think that anything would happen to them until the end.

I enjoyed learning a bit more about Marie Antoinette and her family. I know the basics, but this filled in some details. It does not matter if it is a work of fiction, you still get the idea of what it was like to be Marie Antoinette all through her adult years. It is a wonderful book.

I give the book a 4.5 out 5.

3 comments:

  1. I'm so glad it was good!! I am looking forward to reading it myself!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette

    I picked up this book when I was at the library, even though it was a 7-day book
    because it's so new in the system. Working six days a week and having to read a
    number of books to lead the discussion groups in my bookstore and in branch
    libraries leaves me little time to read just for myself. Hmmm, maybe I could
    use this book as the next one I review for our community paper. But I
    digress...

    I agree with what you say about the book. I was looking for any occasions of
    baptism where Marie Antoinette was present because one of my great-great-great
    (for several generations) grandmothers was "christened on the throne of Marie
    Antoinette." At least that's the story that came down through the family. So I
    was curious. And there were a couple of baptisms. Ha! I figure if any of my
    ancestors were close to the throne, they are among the ones who had to flee
    Paris as things got bad for the royal family. I noticed one of the babies was,
    I believe, the maid's child (or some servant). So my folks were not necessarily
    mixing with royalty as equals! LOL.

    ~~~ Bonnie

    ReplyDelete
  3. I see your post now! I really need to get up-to-date, but it is going to take a long time to do so.

    ReplyDelete

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