Saturday, September 10, 2011

Becoming Marie Antionette, by Julie Grey

Becoming Marie Antoinette: A Novel

The young Maria Antonia is a member of the Hapsburg family, her mother the Empress of Austria.  She is content to scamper about as a child, until her mother reveals her fate to her.  Mama is attempting to arrange a betrothal between Maria and Louis, the dauphin of France.  Before Maria is acceptable to France, however, she must undergo transformation.  Her appearance, her education, her ability to behave like a Queen, no, a French Queen, but all be improved before the betrothal is even possible.  After many months of hard work, Maria finally learns she is to be wed.  What will it be like, to be the future Queen of France?

For the most part, I really enjoyed this book.  I love the history of Marie Antoinette and often think she was dealt a poor hand in life.  Sure, she was royalty and privileged, but she had absolutely no say in the direction her life had, like most women of the time, yet she was ultimately executed because of that life.  I feel like the book did a good job of showing how helpless and naive Marie was.

The storyline was adequate; it is hard to be original when writing a semi fictionalized version of history, I am sure, but I just felt like I had read or scene all this before, in the same exact tone.  It reminded me very much of the 2006 movie about Marie Antoinette, in fact it felt like some of the writing had literally lifted scenes from the movie.  Perhaps this is just excellent research by both the author of this book and the writer of the screenplay, I cannot be sure.  But for me, it made the book seem just the slightest bit stale.  Still, I found myself somewhat captivated but the book.  I take this to be a good sign of a historical writer; the reader knows what is going to happen, and still finds the book compelling.

The book is a first in a trilogy about Marie Antoinette, so it ends shortly after she becomes Queen.  I am anxious to see how the author handles the next books.  This one is filled with descriptions of things that are most likely what a young teenaged royal would find interesting, fashion, relationships, and pleasing one's parents.  Not too different from today's teens, which might make the book appealing to young adult readers.  It is completely appropriate for this demographic as well as for adults.  I am hoping later books deal with more of the mature intrigues that happened during the reign of Marie Antoinette.

I received a review copy courtesy of the Amazon Vine program.

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