Nesta Webster's two volume work on the much maligned Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI is something I consider to be a must-read for anyone interested in...moreNesta Webster's two volume work on the much maligned Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI is something I consider to be a must-read for anyone interested in their lives. Webster examines contemporary sources with great insight, clearing away much of the "myth" that has been passed down about both Marie Antoinette and her husband. Webster is particularly critical of the Freudian interpretation of Marie Antoinette's behavior, the unfortunate portrayals of Louis XVI as a fat oaf and Marie Antoinette as a war-mongering Austrian, and the alleged Axel Fersen affair.
For the most part, her writing is very accessible to those with a general knowledge of the time period. However, she occasionally uses French quotes without offering a translation, and also occasionally footnotes with her her own work or makes reference to her previous books instead of explaining a situation to its fullest.
It should be noted that Webster was a conspiracy theorist. I haven't read her books that are solely on the French Revolution, however her theories crop up in both volumes... personally I don't agree with them, but her analysis of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette is well worth the occasional quirky theory.
The first volume deals with the lives of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette until just after the diamond necklace scandal. The second volume examines their behavior during the revolution and of course, continues until their deaths. (less)
It's no secret that I enjoy historical accuracy when it comes to historical fiction, particularly when it's about my favorite subject, Marie Antoinett...moreIt's no secret that I enjoy historical accuracy when it comes to historical fiction, particularly when it's about my favorite subject, Marie Antoinette. But in the end when it comes to accuracy, I ask myself: "Could this book/the events/the characterization have been plausible, and was it a good read?" The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette, unfortunately, was neither of those things for me.
The author strays so far from historical accuracy that I'm left to wonder... why write this book about "Marie Antoinette"? There seems to have been no effort by the author to write about Marie Antoinette's actual life, and the book may as well have been titled "The Hidden Diary of a Queen" with the names and places changed.
The only good thing I can say about the book is that Louis XVI managed to come across as surprisingly sympathetic, though even this bright spot was tarnished by Erickson constantly having Marie Antoinette insult him, and making his last words to her an "a-okay" for her to marry Fersen after he's dead.(less)
A brief but informative look at one of the perfumers that Marie Antoinette highly favored. Although this book seems intended to be a biography, there...moreA brief but informative look at one of the perfumers that Marie Antoinette highly favored. Although this book seems intended to be a biography, there is much more information about the man's perfumes and products than his actual life. However, the look at the beauty products of Versailles and in particular Marie Antoinette's favorite beauty products is well worth the easy read. The scent descriptions in the book are excellent, as well, and detailed enough to give the reader a good sense of the perfume. There is even a scent 'glossery' in the back for those of us who aren't familiar with some of the scents described in the book. This book is a great little addition to any 18th century library.(less)
Blood Sisters: The French Revolution in Women's Memory by Marilyn Yalom is an exploration of the memoirs of women from a variety of social positions who, in some way, were affected by the French Revolution. These women range from female soldiers to the wives of prominent revolutionary figures to the only surviving child of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. The memoirs encompass a range of different experiences during the revolution as well as range of different "memories" of these events which are colored by the context the time period the memoirs were written in and the own personal ideals of the writer. In the book, Yalom not only explores the importance of historical context when reading these memoirs (a book written by a royalist during the Bourbon Restoration will naturally be colored by that context) but argues that the primary drive behind these memoirs - and indeed, many memoirs before and since the 18th and 19th centuries - is to bear witness to events which uprooted the country and resulted in the deaths of family, friends and countless others.
Blood Sisters excels in several ways. Yalom is clearly invested in this subject and her passion for these women and their writing shines in a narrative that is clear, engaging and incredibly hard to put down. The book also benefits because Yalom has chosen to engage the reader in these memoirs not only from a narrative point of view - explaining what happened to the women and what they wrote - but also from a critical point of view, exploring how these women wrote about what happened to them. Memory and personal conviction can have a great effect on what we write about our lives later in life, something Yalom doesn't hesitate to explore.
The one downside to this book is that I personally wish it was longer! As a side note, Yalom does provide an extensive list of memoirs written by women who were affected by the French Revolution, although this list only contains the French editions of these memoirs.
I highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in women's memoirs, the study of women's history, or the French Revolution. (less)
The Bad Queen is the latest in Carolyn Meyer's Young Royal Series, a set of first person fictional memoirs from famous royal women. In The Bad Queen,...moreThe Bad Queen is the latest in Carolyn Meyer's Young Royal Series, a set of first person fictional memoirs from famous royal women. In The Bad Queen, we start as Marie Antoinette leaves Austria and end with a "passing on" of the memoir from Marie Antoinette to her daughter, who recounts the final events of the queen's life.
It's sometimes hard to review a book when it was just "okay" for me. I initially did not like this book at all, though after a year or so I've warmed up much more to it. One of the things I didn't like about the book is how the romance with Axel Fersen was written. I found that their dialogue, which at times was reminiscent of a romance novel, contrasted too much with the rest of the novel which wasn't written as flowery. I also thought the passing on of the memoir was a little contrived and awkward, mainly because up until that point there was no mention of the narrative being a memoir or diary...
I do recommend this book, though, especially for readers who liked Marie Antoinette: Princess at Versailles (The Royal Diaries series) and want to continue her story, or who are fans of Meyer's other books in the series. It wasn't my cup of tea in the end, but it might be yours!(less)
This book was surprisingly historically solid, and appropriately sympathetic but without any sort of whitewashing. (Though, I'm personally not a fan o...moreThis book was surprisingly historically solid, and appropriately sympathetic but without any sort of whitewashing. (Though, I'm personally not a fan of this sort of passive narrative style of writing, so I found it hard to get into this book.)(less)
A fresh, witty take on the life of Marie Antoinette that is anything but your average historical fiction. It's not for everyone, but readers intereste...moreA fresh, witty take on the life of Marie Antoinette that is anything but your average historical fiction. It's not for everyone, but readers interested in the time period who are looking for something new should give it a try!(less)
A very charming picture book story told from the point of view of Marie Antoinette's pug.
The book begins as young Marie Antoinette is told she is to...moreA very charming picture book story told from the point of view of Marie Antoinette's pug.
The book begins as young Marie Antoinette is told she is to leave Austria and become dauphine of France. Both Antoinette and her pet are thrown into the strange life at the French court, which (the dog laments!) leaves Antoinette no time to pay any attention to him!
The book does deal with Marie Antoinette's unhappiness, but does not stray into the French Revolution or anything more serious than general unhappiness.
The illustrations are unique and, in my opinion, quite adorable. A short, fun read for most ages!(less)
Farewell, My Queen is a narrative of the last three days at the court of Louis XVI, told from the perspective of a reader to Marie-Antoinette.
Chantal...moreFarewell, My Queen is a narrative of the last three days at the court of Louis XVI, told from the perspective of a reader to Marie-Antoinette.
Chantal Thomas, who has written several books about Marie-Antoinette and the French Revolution, does well capturing the chaos and downfall of the court.
The book tells a story, but the main focus is rather on Versailles itself. On the courtiers, the way of life, the things that seem absurd to even think of - as the main character states in one passage, it's not that the Bastille has been stormed that bothers the court, but that the king was awakening during the night to be informed!
The book is very heavy on prose, almost as if you were listening to someone tell their story. For some, this is an entertaining way to read, and for others it can be either boring or too much to slog through.
I personally enjoyed it, and recommend it to anyone looking for either a unique perspective from the time or a very captivating description of the downfall of the court. (less)