Book Review

by Sena Jeter Naslund

Genre: Historical Romance, Historical Fiction
Setting: 18th-century France

2006 Historical Biography Award Winner

RT Rating

On the heels of the soon-to-be released film of Marie Antoinette's life, interest in the "let them eat cake" queen is at an all-time high. In Naslund's capable hands, she becomes a woman who earns your sympathies. Naslund presents a compassionate portrait, depicting Marie as a misunderstood child forced to grow up too fast. Historical fiction should bring people and an era to life, and that's just what Naslund does in her imaginative rendering of a woman, a queen and a world on the brink of madness.

When 14-year old Austrian princess Maria Antonia arrives in France, she's stripped of everything
to be reborn as Marie Antoinette, the wife of the 15-year-old Dauphin, Louis XVI. Marie must change from adolescent into a woman able to lure her young and inexperienced husband
to bed. Rumors abound that he can't perform or that she is incapable of attending to his needs. Somehow
Marie bears the shame until she gives birth and fulfills the role of mother.

Marie grows into her role, but she's often frustrated at having to fit into the French ideal. We see the excesses of the court and experience her innocence of the real world and the storm of unrest that will mean the end of her life -- an end she goes to with all the dignity of a true queen. (Morrow, Oct., 400 pp., $26.95)

Reviewed By: Kathe Robin

Publisher: Morrow

Published: October 2006

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