Thursday, May 20, 2010

Fiction: Marie-Antoinette

Marie Antoinette, Princess of Versailles, Austria France, 1769 (The Royal Diaries) by Kathryn Lasky *

A diary of an adolescent Marie Antoinette, beginning shortly in Austria after her arranged betrothal and ending in France as the 14 year old girl struggles to cope with the political intrigue of Versailles. A part of The Royal Diaries series.

The Bad Queen: Rules and Instructions for Marie-Antoinette by Carolyn Meyer

A first-person account of the dizzying rise and fall of the last queen of France. A part of Carolyn Meyer's "Young Royals" series.

Flaunting, Extravagant Queen by Jean Plaidy

Sometimes called the Queen of Historical Fiction, Plaidy turns to the story of Marie Antoinette in the third and final book of her "French Revolution" series.

Versailles: A Novel by Kathryn Davis *

A novelization of Marie Antoinette's life, narrated in a variety of sketches, poems, and narratives. A unique, refreshing change of pace from the typical historical novel.

Moi and Marie Antoinette by Lynn Cullen *

An illustrated book told from the perspective of Marie Antoinette's pug dog, Sebastian. With a charming narrative, the pug reveals the boredom that Antoinette faces, even after she becomes queen, and turns to dresses and parties (while ignoring him!) in an attempt to make herself happy.

The Queen's Confession by Victoria Holt

The life of the queen as seen through her eyes, this book does not attempt to excuse the queen, but to explain her.

Farewell, My Queen: A Novel by Chantal Thomas

A vividly painted, detailed story told by a woman who, 30 years after the Revolution, is looking back on her job as a reader to Marie Antoinette. She describes the final days before revolution engulfs the palace with researched insight and sometimes surprising humor.

Abundance, a Novel of Marie Antoinette by Sena Jeter Naslund

Told from a limited Marie Antoinette point of view, Naslund focuses in on Marie Antoinette's intimate life - from her rise as dauphine to her fall as queen.

The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette by Carolly Erickson

Fact is heavily embellished with fiction in this novel where, as the name would suggest, Marie Antoinette's life is told through a "hidden diary."

The Queen's Necklace by Antal Szerb

A fictional portrait of the French aristocracy as it falls towards the Revolution. A fascinating, witty look inside the last court of Versailles.

Saint Marie Antoinette: Innocent Victim of the French Revolution by Robert Connolly

(I'm not entirely sure, but I think this is all fiction?) In this book, Robert Connoly evokes a sense of what it must have been like to be in the shoes of Marie Antoinette during her last years. In eighteen poems placed throughout the text, he evokes her thoughts, feelings, hopes, and fears.

Trianon: A Novel of Royal France by Elena Maria Vidal

A result of years of research, this historical fiction novel attempts to correct many popular misconceptions of the royal couple, with a focus on their religious life.

Love and Terror by Alan Jolis

More properly called historical fantasy than historical fiction, this fictional scandal involves a vanished Marie Antoinette from her cell at the Conciergerie, and a substituted Antoinette look-alike while the police commissioner attempts to find the real queen before the look-alike (a woman he loves) will be sent to the guillotine.

The Marie Antoinette/Revolution Series by Alexandre Dumas

Told in a span of sixth books, classic novelist Alexandre Dumas recounts the revolution through both fictional and historical characters.

The recommended order of the books: Joseph Balsamo, Memoirs of a Physician(vol1 & 2), The Queen's Necklace, Taking the Bastile, The Countess de Charny, The Chevalier/Knight of the Maison-Rouge. Note: It's been recommended that you look for the early English translations published by PF Collier and Sons for the best and most complete versions of these books, as many later translations have either been heavily abridged or poorly translated. I've also read that Memoirs of a Physician is, with the exception of the translation by J.M Dent in the early 1900s, published by Little Brown, missing 30 chapters.

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