Becoming Marie Antoinette

Juliet Grey, Author
Juliet Grey. Ballantine, $15 trade paper (461p) ISBN 978-0-345-52386-0
Reviewed on: 07/04/2011
Release date: 08/01/2011
Hardcover - 258 pages - 978-0-345-52387-7
Compact Disc - 978-0-307-96765-7
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-307-96766-4
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-07904-5
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The first book of a planned trilogy by Grey is another sympathetic take on the fascinating and doomed Marie Antoinette. Grey takes command early by giving Marie's most famous line to someone else and having Marie dismiss it as silly. "She should have gone out among the people and fed them," Marie says. Grey's Marie is kind to servants and close to her sister Charlotte, whose loveless marriage forces them apart. Marie's mother amasses power through her children's arranged marriages; Marie is 10 when promised to Louis Auguste of France. Grey chronicles the pains Marie goes through to become the dauphine, from intensive French lessons to mastering a ridiculously difficult walk. Grey's Marie is also a romantic: she longs for the love that her parents had. Once at Versailles, she commits a number of faux-pas as she grows into her title; her shy husband seems uninterested in her; the pressure to produce an heir is overwhelming. Grey's pseudo-antiquated style coupled with Marie's first-person perspective creates the occasional clunker ("and who would not prefer to caress the strings of a harp than dispose of someone else's urine?"), but the detailed litany of the young woman's travails makes for a good story, even if we all know how it ends. (Sept.)
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