This was an interesting nonfiction book about life in the Court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. I learned quite a bit about her life, her behavior and the pressures she was under as a young Queen. Before reading this book, I’ll admit that I had a pretty harsh opinion of Marie Antoinette. While I still think she was a terrible queen, I do have a bit more empathy for what she went through in her short life.
I knew that Marie Antoinette was not a popular queen (hence the beheading), but this book gave me a more in-depth look at the double-standards, backstabbing and court maneuvers used to keep her down. She was married at 14 and Queen at 18. I can’t even imagine being ready to handle that pressure. Clearly she was selfish and out of touch with the people she ruled, but lets face it, what 18 year isn’t? I mean, I sure wasn’t “woke” when I was that age back in the “dark ages” of the late 1980’s. 🙂 Much was made of her rolling her eyes and laughing behind her fan at older people. Yep, sounds like every teenager. ever to exist. ever. Should she have learned proper deportment at court? Of course. But clearly her upbringing and education was deficient and a lot of that blame should be laid at the feet of her parents and family. She should have taken initiative to learn it after she was engaged, yes. But again, teenager.
It seemed the older generation of nobles couldn’t give her a break when she wanted to be around other young people at her private retreat, wanted to gossip with her girlfriends or party all night. Granted, she was losing a ton of the people’s money gambling, so that wasn’t cool, but the fact that she was skewed for wanting to spend time with other women was crazy. Like the only reason a teenage girl would want to hang out with another female teenager was for sexual purposes. I mean, hey, it may be true, but so what, and that’s not even the point. (ok, I’m done ranting)
On the other hand, she truly was out of touch with how to govern and sympathize with her people and her antics greatly contributed to the financial difficulties of the country. I have to admit, the plethora of French names that the author peppered me with was overwhelming. I couldn’t get anyone straight and the information was given in such quick, brief segments that a lot of the significance of this person or that person being in favor, out of favor, shunned from court, appointed or removed to a position was completely lost on me. This is why I rated the book down a bit. If you have a good understanding of all of the players involved in France during this time period, you’ll be fine and enjoy this book. If not, like me, you will be pretty lost a lot of the time and Google and Wikipedia will be your best friend.
Overall, I enjoyed this book, even if some of was lost on me.
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.