|Marie Antoinette at age 13 by Martin van Meytens, 1767.|
|Louis XVI taken from smithsonianmag|
The book does document Marie's evolving understanding and growth within the royal court and also the changing view of her by the turbulent French people. The introduction of the scandals and rumours to the book changed my perception of previous chapters as they touched on what the revolution thought to have been her sexual proclivities prior to royal life.
Marie Antoinette began her pregnancies, in 1778 after enjoying some time in the public spotlight. She would bear five children but only three survived infancy. At this time of her life the flourishing underground pamphlet industry (aka the press) began to broadcast rumors that her children were not fathered by the king and created extremely elaborate stories about cheating and her 'close friendships.'
The deaths of her children combined with increasing public pressure is heartrendingly described in the book and changes the flow of the writing from flourishing descriptions to short, sharp, painful instances.
During the later years of her short life Marie became heavily religious following the deaths of her children and the public hatred of her which I would have liked more detail on to be honest. How did she keep going? Did her newly strengthened faith offer any comfort? This is my own real criticism of the book as it touches upon the woman not the Queen that by this point Fraser's writing loose.
The book is ended by her own awful demise and beheading four torturous years after the appalling torture of her own young son who was made to falsely testify that he had been sexually abused by her..... vile!
What I will say that although the imagery Fraser created was extremely vivid there were parts to me that were crude and were sensationalized. The Queen had close friends whom she loved deeply and this has been manipulated by Fraser to enhance cheating scandals and to fill areas of Marie Antoinette's timeline that remain clouded by lack of historical detail.
I think readers will find different things in this book interesting. Some will focus on Marie Antoinette’s relationship with her husband, some on her fondness for her dear friends and charities and others on her tempestuous frivolity with money and clothing. It covers multiple aspects of one, ultimately extremely lonely woman.
The film in comparison had to appeal to a broad audience so was highly stylised but did have the basic vision of the world the book portrayed incorporated. I think both are valid portals of Marie Antoinette's life purpose built to satisfy either mediums audience.
It's a definite recommend from me :) Let me know what you think if you get a chance to read it!