Monday, October 3, 2011

Marie Antoinette~"Becoming..." and My Needlework Sampler About Her

 Published by:  Random House
Pages:  480
Released:  August 2011

The Book Summary :

This enthralling confection of a novel, the first in a new trilogy, follows the transformation of a coddled Austrian archduchess into the reckless, powerful, beautiful queen Marie Antoinette.

"Why must it be me? I wondered. When I am so clearly inadequate to my destiny?"

Raised alongside her numerous brothers and sisters by the formidable empress of Austria, ten-year-old Maria Antonia knew that her idyllic existence would one day be sacrificed to her mother’s political ambitions. What she never anticipated was that the day in question would come so soon.

Before she can journey from sunlit picnics with her sisters in Vienna to the glitter, glamour, and gossip of Versailles, Antonia must change everything about herself in order to be accepted as dauphine of France and the wife of the awkward teenage boy who will one day be Louis XVI. Yet nothing can prepare her for the ingenuity and influence it will take to become queen.

Filled with smart history, treacherous rivalries, lavish clothes, and sparkling jewels, Becoming Marie Antoinette will utterly captivate fiction and history lovers alike.

The Dame's Review :

Anyone who's been my friend a long time (more than 8 years in blogging circles, happily) knows my obsession with Marie Antoinette.  I first "met" her when I was a pre-teen, precociously searching for real life princesses and queens after having exhausted, for the time-being, my beloved fairytales.  Antoinette immediately became my favorite.  She was the real Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, after all.  Her life of tragedy and unrequited love touched an ember in my heart that lingers, still.

Any book that starts with "Marie Antoinette" has my immediate reaction.  My hand springs out to grasp it, and it's mine forever.  It could be the worst written book on earth, but it's destined for my library just the same!

Fortunately, I'm very pleased to report this book, "Becoming Marie Antoinette," is not the worst book written about her; rather, it's one of the best novels I've read!  From the early sentences in which we're introduced to the voice and mind of Antoinette to the final wishes of her heart and mind, Juliet Grey captured her essence and my imagination. This is a gorgeously covered book I'm delighted to have on my library shelf.

Marie's childhood with its transformations and enlightenment are subtlely rendered in this beautifully written novel.  Without any doubt, her all-consuming desire to please her oft-times distant and withholding mother plays a primary role in Marie's life.  She spends her life in isolation from the mother, desiring only to make her proud, longing for her love and communication.  This aspect of Antoinette's life has always been tender and pitiful to me.  What child hasn't wished the same.  But, in a world where these relationships are put aside for the greater duties, it seems cruel and heartbreaking.  Ms Grey deals with the situation marvelously. Antoinette's loneliness and shunning at Court is well integrated, also.

Court descriptions: decor, the required manners and sly "niceities" of the French aristocracy, and insights into the Dauphin are drawn in a new and interesting way by Grey. That's difficult to do, given all that's been written on the subject!  I also, as always, love to read about the fashions and finery that accompanied Marie Antoinette.  These things just never bore me.

I'm not ordinarily a huge fan of contemporary "historical fiction" in the weighty "romance" genre; but, you will find the highest quality of the original intent for this fiction in Juliet Grey's novel.  I found it well-researched, not over-blown with melodrama and too grand dialog or gratuitous sex scenes!  Thankfully.

The inner dialog and narration of Antoinette is pitch perfect. It captivated me. This is a kindly and humane painting of the young girl that is sympathetic and lovely to read.  I like Ms Grey's style. 

I have only one reservation to report:  I learned German growing up in Nurenburg and Munich.  (Marie's original tongue!)  I've had no French lessons except those my French-speaking children taught me! One of the things that broke the rhythm for me in this novel was the use of many french or french-related words.  I would suggest, perhaps, a feature in her next book that provides a dictionary. 

This book is the first in a trilogy. So, you may want to get your copy now.  I think you'll find it's good reading for a cozy Fall season.

4 1/2  twinkling French stars


A picture of my still unfinished design of "Marie Antoinette Sampler" which I'm picking up again!

Not the best light & I don't iron my linen until the piece is finished. The fabric color is true, above, though.

Here's An Updated Pic. of My Stitching Room!

Not much changed, except note small, very small passage way into it! :p


Nicole said...

I just sent a sample to my Kindle! I love your stitching room - even if you can't get into it (just like my stitching closet). Glad to see you doing a little needlework! :)

mainely stitching said...

Your stitching room looks like a place I'd enjoy getting lost in!

Stitching Cat said...

Deb, so happy to *see* you again! Yes, I can see the small passage way into the stitching room! We really had so much fun in your stitching room when you lived up North. Miss you more than you can ever know. Was just thinking about your Marie Antoinette sampler this weekend, funny that you should post a picture! Love you - Deb