First off, she didn’t really say “Let Them Eat Cake.” Becoming Marie Antoinette is an insightful introduction to the life of the tragic queen. It covers the the time from when she was ten years old to her early 20s, after she became queen of France. And it appears to be highly researched.
Becoming Marie Antoinette is richly detailed, with an abundance of information about costumes and makeup, which detracts a bit from the essence of the story. But the author, determined to create a sympathetic portrait of a woman who was portrayed at selfish and greedy, ultimately succeeds.
The leading character starts off life as an archduchess of Austria who likes to play with her numerous siblings. Her mother, the formidable widow of the Holy Roman Emperor, Maria Theresa, informs her daughterthat she is to marry the dauphin of France.Life immediately starts to change. Toinette has to wear gold braces on her teeth, learn geography, and get her hairline aligned.
It’s all very interesting, but nothing compared to what happens when she arrives at the French court at 14. Much intrigue follow,s and Toinette isn’t sure who she can trust.
I didn’t know much about Marie Antoinette when I began this book, so it’s difficult for me to give it context with other stories or biographies. Some other reviewers complain she is too much of an airhead in this book, but, apparently, that’s what she was. In other words, she was not a scholar or an intellectual giant, which is not so unlike many millions of other people, both in her world and our own.
The thing that bothered me most about this book was her difficulties with her young husband, Louis. Apparently, they had trouble consummating their marriage and did not have any children for several years after they wed. At the end of this book, the problem is still unresolved and that bothered me. Mostly because it remained unexplained. Her husband liked her but was said to be very shy. I suppose that’s understandable, but it’s unclear why it went on for so many years. I think the author could have dreamed up an excuse, such as the boy had no one to advise him in these matters once he became king. Or,perhaps, he had a bad experience with a prostitute. Maybe those sound silly, but in my view, it’s better than no explanation. Or maybe I have just read too many books that deeply delve into these type of difficulties.
Becoming Marie Antoinette is the first book of a trilogy, so we have a long way to go before she meets her sad end. The book was published in 2011, so both sequels are in existence, although I have yet to read them. I haven’t decided whether I’m going to do that or not. One reviewer said that was precisely the question to ask at the end of this tome. So, if I do, it will simply be to fill in the information gap I have about the leading character.
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