What: The Bad Queen
When: April 12th, 2010.
Why: History Geek!
History paints her as a shallow party girl, a spoiled
fashionista, a callous ruler. Perhaps no other royal has been so maligned--and
so misunderstood--as Marie-Antoinette.
From the moment she was betrothed to
the dauphin of France at age fourteen, perfection was demanded of
Marie-Antoinette. She tried to please everyone--courtiers, her young husband,
the king, the French people--but often fell short of their expectations.
Desperate for affection and subjected to constant scrutiny, this spirited young
woman can't help but want to let loose with elaborate parties, scandalous
fashions, and unimaginable luxuries. But as Marie-Antoinette's lifestyle gets
ever more recklessly extravagant, the peasants of France are suffering from
increasing poverty--and becoming outraged. They want to make the queen pay.
In this latest installment of her acclaimed Young Royals series, Carolyn
Meyer reveals the dizzying rise and horrific downfall of the last Queen of
I'm gonna tell you right now, this story doesn't have a happy ending. After I finished, I spent hours going over what I had read in my mind, especially that ending. Because in Marie Antoinette's family? No one ends up happy. That's the thing about writing about historical figures, you can't change the ending. Marie Antoinette lived a complicated, misunderstood life all the way until her brutal demise. And I absolutely loved this book for that reason and more. (I'd like to point out i'm not reviewing the actual history, but the story.)
Besides seeing the Petit Trianon and the Versailles on my trip to France, I hadn't known much about Marie Antoinette before reading this. I knew the basics, she was considered one of the worst queens in history. But in The Bad Queen, you read her story from the beginning, her journey through her marriage, the lack of real passion and how desperately she wanted a baby, and how much she really cared for the country of France. Though we are vastly different in time periods, I related to Marie. She did what she had to do to fit in, but also tried to make it comfortable for herself despite her mother's harsh and sometimes cruel criticisms on her character. She was frivolous, fun-loving, and didn't like the stiff etiquette of the French Court, which caused vicious and nasty rumors to spread on her behalf. She handled them as well as she could, until they lead to her death.
King Louis XVI was a loveable character, though very naive when it came to what his purpose was in marriage (you know, producing heirs and such), and didn't know the first thing about being king when his father died suddenly. I found it unbearable adorable when he give her the key to La Petit Triaton (which is supposed to be the mini castle of the king's favorite. Louis XV had his mistress live in this place, Madame Du Barry, who everyone extremely disliked.)
Then there's her secret romance with a Swede, Fersen, which was completely fueled by passion and desire, the thing lacking in Marie's life. She maintained her loyalty to her husband, never thinking once to abandon him even when she could've escaped with her children but without him. She loved her four children, two dying of sickness before she died, one dying later, and the last, her daughter lived to be the queen of France but then died lonely and unhappy. As I said, there is no happy ending to her story. This novel was 100% accurate, and every single character was a real and actual person in history! Which is just, awesome
My rating? AWESOMESAUCE.