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Abundance: A Novel of Marie Antoinette

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  6,408 ratings  ·  900 reviews
"Like everyone, I am born naked."

With this opening line of Naslund's compelling new novel, a very human Marie Antoinette invites readers to live her story as she herself experiences it. From the lush gardens of Versailles to the lights and gaiety of Paris, the verdant countryside of France, and finally the stark and terrifying isolation of a prison cell, the young queen's
Hardcover, 545 pages
Published October 3rd 2006 by William Morrow (first published October 2006)
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With this book I got into the head of Marie Antoinette. The author did all the research and based on the known facts delivered what she thought was going on in Marie Antoinette's head. She convinced me. At the end of the book is a list of source material, "A Brief Timeline of Events" and an interesting conversation with the author. Don't skip this; it is really good.

The historical facts are clearly presented. You follow Marie from her coming to France as a naïve fourteen year old to her death at
Aug 22, 2007 Marin rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: women
This was a very thin book -- interesting, but thin.

And I don't mean it was a slim volume of delicate prose. It was watery and lacked important detail and missed the ambition of Naslund's "Ahab's Wife."

With so many interesting and picturesque moments during the pre-French Revolution years, with all the excess and religious upheaval and all the parallels and differences betwixt the American and French Revolutions, Naslund chose to focus on Marie Antoinette's wardrobe and constant remodeling of var
Marie Antoinette has intrigued me for years and I have read countless books about her, and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Told in diary form, this book provides a rare, intimate insight into the life of the Queen; her most private thoughts and feelings from the moment she steps onto French land at the young age of fourteen, to the moment she meets her tragic fate. Although it is fiction, it's clear that the author did her homework and based much of what she wrote on actual documentati ...more
Jescee Bennett
Wow! This book was a struggle for me. At first I hated it, because i didn't like the author's style in writing the story. Once I got used to it, it all fell into place. This story really was good. It's a story about Marie Antoinette and her life as the queen of France until the French Revolution. Throughout the book I felt sorry for her and how misunderstood she was, not only by the people of France, but throughout history. I gained a new respect for her and Louis XVI. This is definitely a perio ...more
May 15, 2007 Kate rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: historical fiction buffs, feminists
Drawing from the same perspectival material as Sofia Coppola's 2006 film, this treatment of Marie Antoinette's life paints a sympathetic picture of France's girl queen. Unfortunately, it's also a boring one. Since Naslund's take is almost identical to Coppola's (sometimes eerily so), I recommend skipping the 600-page snoozefest and going with the two-hour movie, which at least features pretty dresses and New Wave tunes.
this book is so poorly written it makes me want to puke. i got to page five and hurled it across the room. with 600 pages to it's name, it made a loud noise. the opening sequence is of the famous handover of marie to her new party. she describes her nipples in detail, her pubescent body. dude, she's 14. i am not about hearing this. and for no reason. i feel free to criticise naslund's style because i read "ahab's wife" and was equally offended. that's right. offended. in ahab's wife naslund make ...more
While astutely researched and poetically written, this basic issue with this book is that hardly anything happens in it 600 pages. Though highly sympathetic to Marie Antoinette, it failed to endear me to her throughout the course of the novel, and I was relieved upon her final beheading that I had, at least, finished this ponderous and meandering portrayal of a far more exotic and scandalous woman than is to be found anywhere in the pages of "Abundance."
This book was ok. It was ok in the beginning, ok in the middle, and ok at the end. Honestly, nothing about this book really stood out to me. It was interesting learning more about the time period and sort of about the lifestyle of the court, but I didn't find the story as it was written to be particularly moving. In the beginning of the book, Marie Antoinette is portrayed as this naive, innocent girl whom everyone loves. By the end she is a naive woman who everyone hates. I guess I can see how i ...more
I liked this book a lot less than I was expecting to. I had read and loved Ahab's Wife and Four Spirits, so I knew I liked the author. But it was kind of like getting stuck talking to someone boring at a party.

The book is told in the first person from Marie Antoinette's point-of-view. I don't know if it was Naslund's goal to make her likable or sympathetic, but she came off as self-centered, petty, and oblivious, even if (as Naslund points out in the forward) she didn't actually say "Let them ea
An utterly delicious and satisfying read. Of course, given the book is about Marie Antoinette, we all know how it ends. But I really loved the buildup. This book is long as it takes us from when she first goes to France at 14 all the way up to her death. But it was a very fast read. Some of the viewpoints feel immature/childish but it's written from her POV so I think it's intentional given how young she was when this all began to unfold. There was a lot I didn't know about her and her marriage, ...more
Just arrived from US trough BM.

It took me some time to go through the plot of this book. The beginning was a little boring since Antoinette's story was interlaced quite a lot with her mother's letters. The plot flows more naturally after Marie Therese death. Since I've already read Antonia Fraser's book, both stories are complementary in the sense that in Fraser's story, Antoinette biography is ended by the Royal family escape to Varennes and in Naslund's her prison and execution is described in

I've just begun this book, and--contrary to some reviews--I love the measured voice. It's beautifully written, beautifully observed. I loved Ahab's Wife, as well, and Abundance has that same remarkable quality of pulling you gently into another world. Sena Jeter Naslund is a wonderful writer.
This was a novel about the life of Marie Antoinette from the time she arrived in France as the fourteen year old Austrian betrothed to the Dauphin, to her death by guillotine after being found guilty of high treason during the French Revolution in 1793. For those curious, this is definitely in the historical fiction genre, not historical romance. French history has always fascinated me. I visited both Versailles and the Conciergerie prison in the 1990s while in France, and it’s fun for me to try ...more
Noran Miss Pumkin
So far, lovely reader--very detailed --like a dairy. 15 Cds--was far cheaper than the book-via ebay.

June 2nd, 2011. I feel the book would have rated 3 stars, but he lovely reader, via the BBC-makes this love tale of Marie Annoinette a pleasure and a delight to listen to. The florid details of the author, while tiresome when reading, come alive with the audio. I came see the palaces and gardens so easily. I see how Marie started early on causing her later demise. The history is most accurate, and
Apr 08, 2011 Jane rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: history buffs
Recommended to Jane by: Timberland library book club
Shelves: bookclub
This book was difficult in the beginning. Since it is written as spoken by Marie Antoinette it was filled with statements starting with "I". At first it was quite redundant and then I began to realize it was a brilliant way to tell her a self-centered way. The author does a wonderful job telling how Marie's life was very sheltered and lavish. She portrays Marie as an innocent naive young girl going from her very restricted and sheltered environment as a child, to meeting her new count ...more
When "Abundance: A Novel of Marie-Antoinette" by Sena Jeter Naslund first debuted, it was difficult for readers of "Trianon" not to make comparisons. The two novels, however, should not be compared, since "Abundance" is an epic approach to Marie-Antoinette's life, entirely in the diary/memoir format. "Trianon," on the other hand, focuses upon how each member of the royal family faces death and loss, as well as the underlying spiritual struggles in the country, in the court and in the hearts of t ...more
Kayte Korwitts
Even if I hadn't read the author bio, I definitely recognized the power of the poet in this novel. There were several points throughout my reading of this where I stopped after a sentence and repeated it aloud to myself. The prose is glitteringly gorgeous and positively bleeds romance. Naslund's Antoinette is a passive, crystalline creature whose unfailing adherence to etiquette and good manners speaks more to the times she lived in than to the essence of her character. She's distant although em ...more
Not the typical tale of Marie Antoinette. Did you know she didn't actually say "let them eat cake?" I was shocked -- that's all I really knew about Marie Antoinette... well, and the bit about the guillotine. This author portrays her as a kind, loving, compassionate queen, born to love and lead, ultimately giving all for France. I found this book fascinating, more than a little disturbing (in a way I can't completely describe) and actually a page turner, just as the cover promised.
From the beginning, Abundance gives a very personal view into the life of Marie Antoinette, an Austrian princess who was forced to forget the country and life that she knew and loved in order to marry the French dauphin Louis XVI, the future king of France. She leads a life of frivolity, joy, and excess as well as one of slander, hatred, and heartbreak. The novel starts off slowly, I will admit, and drags on for the pages leading up to Marie Antoinette's marriage, which is filled with formalitie ...more
I quite enjoyed this story. Abundance is told from the perspective of Marie herself. Her personality is clear, as is that of the Dauphin... so I really got to know the characters. I didn't feel bogged down with details, yet was able to easily picture the settings and the times.

Naslund tells her story from the day she leaves Austria to become the Dauphine at age 14 to her death.

It is fascinating seeing her change from a young noble a a queen. Her personality changes so mu
Laura Copeland
Fantastic historical [non]fiction work about the infamous Marie Antoinette, who is portrayed sympathetically so that we may understand and empathize [not inappropriately] regarding the Revolution's devastating consequences for her as well as the French citizenry. French citizens were, by the time of M.A.'s execution, starved and quite mad (as in insane). Neglect [from their monarchy] and all its attendant hardships brought their primal animalism to the fore and anesthetized their humanness. They ...more
I'd give this book 3 and a half stars if I could. I had been wanting to read something about Marie Antoinette for a while. I'm glad I chose this book for several reasons: one, the author's writing style is beautiful, and two, it really gives you a clear idea of who M.A. That being said, I do have to wonder just how accurate the book is. It is a work of fiction, but the author did much studying of this queen of old in writing the book. Her portrayal of MA is that she loved others and beauty, and ...more
JG (The Introverted Reader)
What I knew about Marie Antoinette before reading this book (spoilers ahead if you don't know anything at all about her): She was married to Louis XVI, she said "Let them eat cake," she was queen during the French Revolution, and (possible spoiler here)-------------------------she was beheaded. That was it.

Three out of four isn't bad. She never actually said "Let them eat cake." According to the author, it was the wife of Louis XIV, two generations earlier, who said that. So, if you ever win to
At the age of fourteen, Princess Maria Antonia of Austria was sent to France to be married to the fifteen-year-old Dauphin (crown prince) Louis Auguste, thus forging an alliance between their countries and re-christening her as the French Dauphine, Marie Antoinette. Such alliances are cemented by producing heirs, but it takes several years and ascension to the throne before this marriage is consummated successfully, and a second pregnancy before a prince is born. The queen-to-be diverts herself ...more
A novel told from the perspective of Marie Antoinette, this sympathetic portrait paints the French queen as a naive but well-meaning young girl who is completely unaware of her responsibilities and the consequences of her innocent actions.

Novels about Marie Antoinette seem to fall into one of two camps: either they portray her as an innocent or a serpent. The truth, as usual, probably lies somewhere in between. It is up to you to read as much as you can and then make up your own mind. This novel
"I love this book. It is a novelized version of the life of Marie Antoinette from the time she was fourteen and left Austria to marry the man who would become Louis XVI of France until she was executed. It is written in first person which makes it seem as though the reader can understand her in a very personal way. I believe the historical facts are accurate, and what was in her mind and heart are, of course, open for interpretation. Many of her letters to and from her mother and her friends are ...more
This book took me sometime to get through, because of the holidays. I'm glad I stuck it out. I have been wanting for some time to read a book on Marie Antoinette, and although this is a fictional book, I feel that I have an insight to her life.

The writing style feels to be very true to that of the 18th century. There were many words that I didn't understand but didn't take the time to look up in the dictionary and still feel I followed what was happening.

I can understand why Marie was considered
I thoroughly enjoyed the author's writing style throughout this book, although I have to admit there were a few places where things seemed to drag a little. I felt a lot of things towards Marie Antoinette as I read, reflecting I'm sure, what the author intended to portray. This is a highly emotional read -- frank and stark in some places, silly in others. Fear, deepest affection, confusion, boredom, loneliness, pride, and inner strength are all depicted at various phases of MA's life. Not knowin ...more
Margaret Diano
this book is very controversy in a way the life of Marie Antoinette is very disappointing and tragic because she already had everything that every girls wishes to have but she waste it all because of her ignorance and overpower that became ignorant of the country's growing economic and political crises. Even some of the story in the novel are just made up by the author and not really happen in real Marie Antoinette's Story, she made her life more interesting by story telling while narrating her ...more
Sarah Joy
I have loved Sena Jeter Naslund's writing since reading Ahab's Wife and was wondering why she picked such a tired story as the life of Marie Antoinette. I was annoyed by Sofia Coppola's 2006 movie with Kirsten Dunst and almost didn't read this book because I thought I'd heard enough of Marie Antoinette.

I was impressed... no, astounded, by how she brought Marie Antoinette alive for me, the reader. It was historically interesting and personal all at once... showing how this woman tried so hard to
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Sena Jeter Naslund is the New York Times best-selling author of five novels, including Ahab's Wife (1999) and Abundance: A Novel of Marie Antoinette (HarperCollins, 2006). She is currently Distinguished Teaching Professor and Writer in Residence at the University of Louisville and program director of the Spalding University brief-residency Master in Fine Arts in Writing. Recipient of the Harper Le ...more
More about Sena Jeter Naslund...
Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer Four Spirits Adam & Eve The Fountain of St. James Court; or, Portrait of the Artist as an Old Woman: A Novel Sherlock in Love: A Novel

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Mortality is a cause for humility, she said to me. None of us knows when he might be taken, as your blessed father was taken. Death, like birth, comes to us all, regardless of rank or station in life. 4 likes
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