Anna Gibson's Reviews > Becoming Marie Antoinette

Becoming Marie Antoinette by Juliet Grey
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's review
Jun 20, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: marie-antoinette-and-family-fiction, owned-books
Read from June 17 to 20, 2011

*This review is for an ARE edition*

I can still remember when Becoming Marie Antoinette first popped up on search results, with no cover, no summary, and nothing but the title and the author. Then, as more details emerged, it was revealed to be the first in an upcoming trilogy about the (in)famous French queen. The cover was revealed, a book trailer released, and now the AREs are making the rounds. I received my copy in the mail with a mixture of excitement and, to be honest, nervousness! Because Marie Antoinette is probably my deepest historical interest, I'm always antsy when reading a new book about her, especially a novel.

Before beginning to read, I decided that I wanted to get through 50 pages a day and finish the book in little over a week. The book arrived on June 17th - and I couldn't help but eat up the entire novel as swiftly as I could manage, and finished it on June 20th!

The length of this book allows for a much greater development of character than, in my opinion, any previous novel about the queen. In a typical Marie Antoinette narrative, she's in Versailles by page 20 - it's close to 200 pages before Marie Antoinette steps foot on French soil, and the connection to her character is all the stronger for it. The story enjoys a slower pace but a much better sense of personality, setting, and overall story. It feels like a historical fiction novel, not a biography with some dialogue and flowery phrases tacked on.

I've heard Becoming Marie Antoinette described as a 'confection' of a novel, and the term is a pretty apt description for Juliet Grey's writing. The colorful descriptions of faces, palaces, dresses, and odors both pleasant and horrid are vivid and imaginative, without sounding like the same tired cliches commonly found in historical fiction.

Speaking of historical fiction... those of us who tend to (and I'll admit I'm terribly guilty of this) nitpick novels that involve history we are interested in will be excited to know that the novel is well researched without coming across as "stuffy" or too biographical. Any changes or tweaks on history are done for the smoothness of the narrative, and nothing that really detracts from the characters of Marie Antoinette or her family.

To sum up, I loved this book. It's uncommon that I will literally say: "I am loving this book" when I take a break during a book, but it's what I found myself saying over and over! If the rest of the trilogy lives up to this first installment, I think Juliet Grey's "Marie Antoinette" trilogy will be a treasured set on many bookshelves.
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Reading Progress

06/17/2011 page 78
17.0% "loving it so far!"
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Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Leeann i'm almost to the end of Becoming Marie Antoinette, but i don't want it to end! i appreciate that Juliet Grey took time to research the history about Marie Antoinette and portray the truth in the book. i find myself truly liking the young dauphine much more than i ever did in school history class. i, too, am loving this book and am now thoroughly obsessed with Marie Antoinette.

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