A Novel of Marie Antoinette

Book - 2006
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" "Like everyone, I am born naked." With this opening line of Naslund's compelling new novel, a very human Marie Antoinette invites readers to live her story as she herself experiences it. From the lush gardens of Versailles to the lights and gaiety of Paris, the verdant countryside of France, and finally the stark and terrifying isolation of a prison cell, the young queen's life is joyful, poignant, and harrowing by turns. As her world of unprecedented royal splendor crumbles, the charming Marie Antoinette matures into a heroine of inspiring stature, one whose nobility arises not from the circumstance of her birth but from her courageous spirit. Marie Antoinette was a child of fourteen when her mother, the Empress of Austria, arranged for her to leave her family and her country to become the wife of the fifteen-year-old Dauphin, the future King of France. Coming of age in the most public of arenas, the young queen embraces her new family and the French people, and she is embraced in return. Eager to be a good wife and strong queen, she shows her new husband nothing but love and encouragement, though he repeatedly fails to consummate their marriage and in doing so, fails to give her the thing she-;and the people of France-;desire most: a child and an heir to the throne. Deeply disappointed and isolated in her own intimate circle apart from the social life of the court, the queen allows herself to remain ignorant of the country's growing economic and political crises. She entrusts her soul to her women friends, her music teacher, her hairdresser, the ambassador from Austria, and a certain Swedish count so handsome that admirers label him "the Picture." When her innocent and well-chaperoned pilgrimage to watch the sun rise is viciously misrepresented in satiric pamphlets as a drunken orgy, the people begin to turn against her. Poor harvests, bitter winters, war debts, and poverty precipitate rebellion and revenge as the royal family and many nobles are caught up in a murderous time known as "the Terror." With penetrant insight into new historical scholarship and with wondrous narrative skill, Naslund offers an intimate, fresh, and dramatic re-creation of this compelling woman that goes beyond popular myth. Abundance reveals a compassionate and spontaneous Marie Antoinette who rejected the formality and rigid protocol of the court; an enchanting and tenderhearted outsider who was loved by her adopted homeland and people until she became the target of revolutionary cruelty and violence; a dethroned queen whose depth of character sustained her in even the worst of times. Once again, Sena Jeter Naslund has shed new light on an important moment of historical change and made that time as real to us as the one we are living now. Exquisitely detailed, beautifully written, heartbreaking and powerful, Abundance is a novel that is impossible to put down."--Inside jacket.
Publisher: New York : William Morrow, c2006
Edition: 1st ed
Branch Call Number: FICTION NAS
Characteristics: 539 p. ; 24 cm


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ChristchurchLib Feb 17, 2015

"Like everyone, I am born naked," confesses Marie Antoinette. Unlike everyone, however, her "birth" occurs at age 14 when Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna, Archduchess of Austria, becomes engaged to the future King Louis XVI of France and sheds her former identity to reinvent herself as a queen. Despite her beauty and charm, Marie Antoinette struggles to win over the French court, not to mention the French people, who have become increasingly dissatisfied with their extravagant, dissolute rulers. For more about "L'Autrichienne," try Juliet Grey's Marie Antoinette Trilogy (which begins with Becoming Marie Antoinette) or Carolly Erickson's The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette. Historical Fiction newsletter February 2015.

Nov 29, 2006

Everyone knows that Marie Antoinette was a bubble head, but this novel shows her as a very charming bubble head. The depiction of opulence in a lifestyle that was truly enviable is accurately described in a language that helps you to forget her self centered nature. But what can you expect? Brought up to be married off at an early age, she drifts through court life with nary a thought for repercussions for heedless actions. At the end she only cares about how dignified she can be while placing her head on the guillotine, and in one fell swoop her voice was silenced forever. Not a life I admire, but I think this is a very admirable portrayal of a wasted life. Truly that is a tragedy

Oct 28, 2006

Having enjoyed Naslund's "Ahab's Wife" previously, I was looking forward to her new historical fiction about Marie Antoinette. The story begins as 14-year-old Marie, daughter of the Empress of Austria, journeys to France to wed the 15-year-old Dauphin (Louis XVI); and ends with her memorable death at the guillotine during the French Revolution. Throughout I had to keep reminding myself that, although intensely researched, this was a work of fiction -- it was like reading the intimate thoughts from someone's diary. I felt both sympathy for Marie and the royal family and pity at their self-absorption and naïveté. The reader is not made to think they are truly evil or ruthless people, but that the fault perhaps lies in how they are raised in a world of true opulence; isolated, untouched and unaffected by the reality, and often the plights, of the average citizen.

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