The Bad Queen: Rules and Instructions for Marie-Antoinette (Young Royals Series)

The Bad Queen: Rules and Instructions for Marie-Antoinette (Young Royals Series)

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by Carolyn Meyer

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In this latest installment of her acclaimed Young Royals series, Carolyn Meyer reveals the dizzying rise and horrific downfall of the last queen of France.

From the moment she was betrothed to the dauphin of France at age fourteen, perfection was demanded of Marie-Antoinette. Desperate for affection and subjected to constant scrutiny, this spirited young woman

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In this latest installment of her acclaimed Young Royals series, Carolyn Meyer reveals the dizzying rise and horrific downfall of the last queen of France.

From the moment she was betrothed to the dauphin of France at age fourteen, perfection was demanded of Marie-Antoinette. 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 even a forbidden love affair. Meanwhile, the peasants of France are suffering from increasing poverty and becoming outraged. They want to make the queen pay for her reckless extravagance—with her life.

Includes historical notes, an author’s note, and bibliography

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Praise for Carolyn Meyer's Young Royals books:
"High drama . . . irresistible."—Booklist
"Riveting."—Publishers Weekly


Children's Literature - Jody Little
At the age of fourteen, Marie Antoinette leaves her home in Austria to marry the dauphin of France, Louis-Auguste. Marie's overbearing mother gives her endless instructions on how she should behave as the new dauphine. Soon Marie is swept up in life at Versailles, and she learns to endure the constant attention and gossip of the French court. Marie knows her main purpose, however, is to produce an heir for the throne of France, but her new husband is terribly shy and doesn't seem to have much interest in Marie. When Louis-Auguste becomes the king of France, Marie becomes more and more extravagant. She wears the latest fashions in hairstyles and gowns. She learns to ride horses and she begins to play gambling games, always turning to her husband to help pay her debts. Finally, Marie becomes pregnant with her first child, a daughter, and soon after she has a son, the new dauphin of France. Marie's wild expenditures continue. She has an elaborate country home built for herself and her children. Little does she realize that the country of France is beginning to crumble. The poor, common people are starving and are losing faith in the king. Spurned by the American Revolution, the French people revolt. Marie and her family flee, but are captured and held as prisoners. Both King Louis and Marie Antoinette are beheaded by the guillotine. Told through the eyes of Marie Antoinette herself and later her daughter Marie-Therese, young readers will gain an awareness of the lavish, yet sometimes restricting lives the French royals led. This novel is fast-paced with just the right touch of romance and historical fact to keep readers turning the pages. Reviewer: Jody Little
School Library Journal
Gr 6–9—This novel about the ill-fated queen covers her life from age 13 when, as an Austrian princess, she prepares to marry the French dauphin to her death by guillotine in 1793. The final section is told by her daughter Marie-Therese, the only family member to survive the Revolution. Meyer writes in a lighthearted, casual style, vividly portraying the historical era and aptly defining unfamiliar vocabulary. However, Marie-Antoinette's occasional sympathy for the poor and interest in politics is inconsistent with her flighty, self-indulgent character as presented in most of the book. (Frankly, she comes across as a total airhead.) In addition, after the first 100 pages, The Bad Queen turns into a speedy recitation of events, skipping through years at a time with little insight or development and little spark or personality from the narrators. Kimberley Brubaker Bradley's fascinating novel The Lacemaker and the Princess (S & S, 2007) features Marie-Therese and does an excellent job of integrating events leading up to the French Revolution with life at the palace of Versailles. Although it doesn't have as much material on Marie-Antoinette, it's more interesting and better written.—Ann W. Moore, Schenectady County Public Library, NY

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Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Young Royals Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 6.90(h) x 1.20(d)
990L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

No. 1: Marry well

The empress, my mother, studied me as if I were an unusual
creature she’d thought of acquiring for the palace
menagerie. I shivered under her critical gaze. It was like being
bathed in snow.
 “Still rather small, but I suppose she’ll grow. Her sisters
did,” my mother said half to herself. She caught my
eye. “No bosom yet, Antonia?”
 I shook my head and stared down at my naked toes,
pale as slugs. “No,Mama.”
 Swathed in widow’s black, the empress frowned at
me as if my flat chest were my own fault. “She’s no beauty,
certainly,” she said, speaking to my governess, Countess
Brandeis. “But pretty enough, I think, tomarry the dauphin
of France.” She signaled me to turn around, which I did,
slowly. “My dear countess, something must be done about
her hair!” my mother declared. “The hairline is terrible—
just look at it! And her teeth as well. The French foreign
minister has already complained that the child’s teeth are
crooked. King Louis has made it quite clear that everything
about my daughter must be perfect before he will
agree to her marriage to his grandson.”
 Brandeis inclined her head. “Of course, Your
 “One thing more, Antonia,” said my mother sharply.
“You must learn to speak French—beautifully. And this
too: from now on you are no longer Antonia. You are Antoine.”
She dismissed us with a wave and turned her attention
to the pile of official papers on her desk.
 Antoine? Even my name must change? I gasped and
groped for an answer, but no answer came, just one dry
sob. The countess rushed me out of the empress’s chambers
before I could burst into tears. That would have been
unacceptable.Mama didn’t allow her daughters to cry.
 I’ve thought of thismomentmany times. And I think
of it again, no longer attempting to hold back my tears after
all that has happened to me since then.

My mother was known to all the world asMaria Theresa,
Holy Roman Empress, archduchess of Austria, queen of
Hungary and Bohemia, daughter of the Hapsburg family
that had ruled most of Europe for centuries. Mama believed
the best way to further the goals of her huge empire
was not through conquest but throughmarriage. I’d heard
her say it often: Let other nations wage war—fortunate Austria
marries well. She used us, her children, to form alliances.
 There were quite a lot of us to be married well. My
mother had given birth to sixteen children—I was the
fifteenth—and in 1768, the year in which this story begins,
ten of us were still living. Three of my four brothers
had been paired with suitable brides. The eldest, Joseph,
emperor and co-ruler with ourmother since Papa’s death,
was twenty-seven and had already been married and widowed
twice. Both of his wives had been chosen by our
mother. Joseph still mourned the first, Isabella of Parma,
with whom he had been deeply in love, but not the second,
a fat and pimply Bavarian princess whom he had detested
from the very beginning. I was curious to see if
Mama would make him marry well for a third time.
 Next in line for the throne, Archduke Leopold was
married to the daughter of the king of Spain. Then came
my brother Ferdinand, thirteen, a year older than I, betrothed
since he was just nine to an Italian heiress. No
doubt he would soon marry her. The youngest archduke,
chubby little Maximilian—we called him Fat Max—was
not onMama’s list for a wife.He was supposed to become
a priest and someday an archbishop.
 Of my five older sisters, Maria Anna was crippled
and would never have a husband, and dear Maria Elisabeth
had retired to a convent after smallpox destroyed her
beauty. (All of us archduchesses had been given the first
name Maria—an old family tradition.) My other sisters
had been found husbands of high enough ranks.
 Maria Christina, calledMimi, was my mother’s great
favorite, and somehow she had been allowed to marry the
man she adored, Prince Albert of Saxony. Lucky Mimi,
one of the most selfish girls who ever lived!
 Maria Amalia was madly in love with Prince Charles
of Zweibrücken, but Mama opposed the match—he wasn’t
rich enough or important enough—and made Amalia
promise to marry the duke of Parma. Amalia didn’t like
him at all, and she was furious withMama.
 “Mimi got to marry the man she loved, even though
he has neither wealth nor position,” Amalia stormed, “and
Mama gave her a huge dowry to make up for it. So why
can’t I marry Charles?”
 Silly question! We all knew she had no choice. Only
Mimi could talk Mama into giving her whatever she
wanted. Maria Carolina, the sister I loved best, had to
marry King Ferdinand ofNaples. This was the final chapter
of a very sad story: two of our older sisters, firstMaria
Johanna and then Maria Josepha, had each in turn been
betrothed to King Ferdinand. First Johanna and then
Josepha had died of smallpox just before a wedding could
take place. Ferdinand ended up with the next in line,
Maria Carolina. He may have been satisfied with the
change, but Carolina hadn’t been.
 “I hear he’s an utter dolt!” Carolina had wailed as her
trunks were being packed for the journey toNaples. She’d
paced restlessly from room to room, wringing her pretty
white hands. “And ugly as well. I can only hope he doesn’t
 It didn’t matter if he stank.We had been brought up
to do exactly as we were told, and Mama had a thousand
rules. “You are born to obey, and you must learn to do so.”
(This rule did not apply toMimi, of course.)
 Though she was three years older than I, we had
grown up together. We had also gotten into mischief together,
breaking too many of Mama’s rules (such as talking
after nightly prayers and not paying attention to our
studies), and our mother had decided we had to be separated.
In April, when the time came for her to leave for
Naples, Carolina cried and cried and even jumped out of
her carriage at the last minute to embrace me tearfully
one more time. I missed her terribly.
 That left me, the youngest daughter, just twelve years
old. I knew my mother had been searching for the best
possible husband forme—best for her purposes; my wishes
didn’t count. Now she thought she had found him: the
dauphin of France. The Austrian Hapsburgs would be
united with the French Bourbons. But she also thought I
didn’t quite measure up.

After my mother’s cold assessment, Brandeis led me, sobbing,
through gloomy corridors back to my apartments in
the vastHofburg Palace in Vienna. She murmured soothing
words as she helped me dress—I had appeared in only
a thin shift for Mama’s inspection—and announced that
we would simply enjoy ourselves for the rest of the day.
 “Plenty of time tomorrow for your lessons, my darling
Antonia,” the countess said and kissed me on my
forehead. She hadn’t yet begun to call me Antoine, and I
was glad.
 Her plan was fine with me. Neither Brandeis nor
I shared much enthusiasm for my lessons. I disliked
reading—I read poorly—and avoided it as much as I
could. Brandeis saw no reason to force me. She agreed
that my handwriting was nearly illegible—I left a trail of
scattered inkblots—and allowed me to avoid practicing
that as well. My previous governess had also given up the
struggle, helpfully tracing out all the letters with a pencil
so I had only to follow her tracings with pen and ink.
When my mother discovered the trick, the lady was dismissed.
Brandeis didn’t resort to deception, but neither
did she do much to correct my messy handwriting.
 “You’ll have scant use for such things,” said my governess
now. She shuffled a deck of cards and dealt a hand
onto the game table. “You dance beautifully—who can
forget your delightful performance in the ballet to celebrate
your brother Joseph’s wedding? Your needlework is
exquisite, and your music tutor says you show a talent for
the harp. What more will you need to know? A member
of the court will read everything to you while you stitch
your designs, and a secretary will write your letters for
you. You won’t even have to think about it. You’ll have
only to be charming and enjoy yourself, when you become
the queen of France.”
 “Queen of France?” I exclaimed, a little surprised. I
hadn’t thoughtmuch beyondmarrying the dauphin, whoever
he was. “AmI truly to be queen of France, Brandeis?”
 “You will someday, if everything goes according to
plan. The young man your mother has chosen for you to
marry is next in line for the throne. The future wife of the
dauphin will be the dauphine, and when old King Louis
the Fifteenth dies and his grandson the dauphin becomes
king, you, my sweet Antonia, will become his queen.” She
smiled and sighed. “Everyone knows that Versailles is the
most elegant court in all of Europe, and you shall be its
shining glory!”
 Queen! The idea thrilled me. My brothers and sisters
had been matched with royalty from several other countries
in Europe, but France was the most important—I
understood that much—and that made me important,
more important than my snobbish sister Mimi! Being
married to the prince of Saxony wasn’t much to brag
about, compared to being queen of France. I pranced
around my apartments with my nose in the air, as though
I already wore the crown. Countess Brandeis swept her
new sovereign a curtsy so deep that her nose almost
touched the floor. I laughed and twirled and clapped my
 Then I remembered my mother’s pronouncement:
everything must be perfect. “Oh, dear Brandeis, what about my
hair?” I cried. “And my teeth? Mama says they’re not
pleasing to the French king. And you’re supposed to call
me Antoine.”
 “I imagine a friseur will be sent to dress your hair,”
said Brandeis with a careless shrug, “though it looks fine
enough to me—a mass of red-gold curls, what could be
prettier? And I’ve heard that crooked teeth can be fixed as
well as unruly locks.Meanwhile, I suggest you simply put
all of this out of mind.” She picked up her cards and
arranged them. “Now, shall I draw first, or shall you?”
 I did as my governess suggested and succeeded in
winning a few pfennig from her. The next day we bundled
ourselves in furs and rode through Vienna in a sleigh
shaped like a swan and drawn by horses with bells jingling
on their harnesses. We returned to my apartments in the
Hofburg to sip hot chocolate and forget the unpleasant
business of lessons and other worrisome matters. Brandeis
always neglected to call me Antoine. I was still her
dear Antonia—until one day when all our pleasant enjoyment
came to an end.

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Meet the Author

CAROLYN MEYER is the acclaimed author of more than fifty books for young people. Her many award-winning novels include Mary, Bloody Mary, an ABA Pick of the Lists, an NCSS-CBC Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies, and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults; Anastasia: The Last Grand Duchess, a New York Times bestseller; White Lilacs, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, an NYPL Best Book for the Teen Age, and an IRA Young Adults' Choice; Marie, Dancing, a BookSense Pick; and her most recent historical novel, The True Adventures of Charley Darwin. Ms. Meyer lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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The Bad Queen: Rules and Instructions for Marie-Antoinette 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Jasmyn9 More than 1 year ago
A look into the life of the notorious queen Marie Antoinette. The story, told in a journal format, begins when Marie is very young and still living in Austria. It follows her life as she prepares to marry and become the dauphine of France...eventually becoming the Queen. The story follows her blunders and misconceptions, her disappointments and her few joys. We follow her through the end of her life at the guillotine. This fictional account of what Marie Antoinette's life may have been like gives a new look into the infamous queen. It portrays her in different light, a confused child forced into the world of adults in a culture she not only doesn't understand, but one she wants to change for the better. The story was engaging and captivating. My heart went out to her and the entire royal family and the rebellion overtook their lives. While their decisions may have led to their downfall, we see how they may have known no better.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Marie-Antoinette leaves her country and everything behind at a young age to marry the dauphin of France. While excited at the prospect of making such an important match, she doens't realize what it will entail. She soon learns there are numerous rules and protocols to follow - whether she believes them to be right or not. There are plenty of people who want her to fail, and not many wishing to become her friend. Marie-Antoinette fumbles through trying to please everyone, but makes waves in the process, often unintentionally. Besides problems with the court rules, she finds she can't relate to her husband. They have nothing in common. While she attempts small talk, even that can't go very far. Even though he is of a similar age, he wants nothing to do with her. Their martial problems fuel gossip at court. According to the French people and her mother, it is her job to make the marriage work and her fault if no heirs are produced. After the king's death, Marie-Antoinette lives more freely. She gravitates towards a younger crowd, inviting them to fancy parties held away from court. She fixes up a property given to the former king's mistress, and then begins work on a small village for her comfort. In these places, she feels free, away from the pressures of court and from prying eyes. However, the construction and the parties cost a fortune. The French people are not amused, as many began to go hungry. They want justice for their troubles. Marie-Antoinette becomes their target, and soon no one is safe. THE BAD QUEEN provides an in-depth look at one of the most famous royals often portrayed as a villain. In actuality, Marie-Antoinette was a young girl with enormous power who enjoyed entertaining. Meyer portrays her as a girl who doesn't notice the situation around her, who is loyal to her husband in times of trouble, and who doesn't understand the French, but one who will live on in history.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sensitivemuse More than 1 year ago
I enjoy reading anything about Marie Antoinette and this one does not disappoint! as this book caters to the younger age crowd, Marie Antoinette’s voice certainly ‘feels’’ younger. The book does a good job covering most of the main moments of her life leading up to her death. The book paints her somewhat in a sympathetic light, although ignorant and oblivious to what really is happening outside of the palace walls. Her large spending sprees and luxuries are a result of her desperate desire to please others, and to be surrounded by her friends (albeit, they all have another agenda). You can’t help but shake your head at these actions, but on the other hand, she was lonely, with no one to really talk to, and being under the constant scrutiny of others, you do sympathize and try to understand what’s she’s feeling. Her admirers and friends don’t help much in that matter either, as they just grab and take what they can. So although she’s done mistakes and she can disliked for her behavior, you can’t help but pity her as well. The way her story is told is perfect and the writing style is superb. Although it’s a huge thick novel, I found it easy to read, and quick to read through. The setting and descriptions are well done and realistic, so everything is easily pictured. The little rules outlining the beginning of every chapter are cute but it goes to show the lengths to which Marie Antoinette was raised and how she was expected to be at court. It’s rigid and very restrictive, and you can’t blame her for wanting to break rules to suit herself and her comfort - much to the chagrin of others in the French court. This was a great telling of Marie Antoinette tale for younger readers and I greatly recommend this for those wanting to know more about a misunderstood Queen. Those wanting to read a more adult version of this book, I’d recommend Abundance by Sena Jeter Naslund. It’s a more detailed account of her life, and also very well done.
Sapphire_Kelly More than 1 year ago
This book is absolutely amazing. I read about Marie all the time. I love things with kinds and queens. I think if you loved this and have not yet. You should check out the other young royals books. They are equally as amazing as this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
yearningtoread More than 1 year ago
Marie-Antoinette was raised in Austria until she was fifteen years old, where she grew up the youngest of fifteen children. Most had been married long before, and now was time to watch the last few sisters and brothers leave and marry the man or woman who would best protect the Austrian throne. Antonia, as she was called in Austria, is to be married off to the dauphin of France - the next in line to the French throne. With all the work to do to get Antonia presentable to her future husband, Antonia has no time - nor the desire - to think about what lies ahead. When she is ready to be married, Marie-Antoinette is sent to France, where she begins her life as the dauphine of France. But what she finds there is not what she was expecting. At first life is rocky - adjusting to the new rules, such as wearing stays and no riding horses, and learning who it "looks good" to talk to and who it doesn't. Then it is smooth - as soon as she gets a hang of French life, no matter how much she dislikes it, Marie-Antoinette begins to live life like she believed she was entitled to as queen of France. She builds theaters, designs lavish gardens, makes beautiful dresses and order the most expensive of jewels. She commits herself to gambling, wasting her husband's money away for the sake of a desire that could not be quelled. This is only the beginning - the beginning of her downfall. While she trying to build herself up, Marie-Antoinette only paves the way for a major failure. After falling in love with Count Axel von Fersen but staying faithful to her husband (or so this book claims), the country begins to decline. The people of France are poor, they have no bread, and they blame it on the gambling, wasteful queen, Marie-Antoinette. The rumor on the streets is that when asked what to do with the poor, starving French men and women at the gates of Verseilles, the bad queen answered, "Let them eat cake!" The people are furious, enraged, and they are going to have vengeance. The story does not end happily. If you are looking for sappy romance with an ending that makes everyone warm and fuzzy inside, not read this book. However, I highly recommend it. For those of you who like historical novels, this is a treat. And for those of you who dislike historical novels but like romance, adventure, and intrigue, this is a treat. The only thing that I would say against this book is that it is probably not a young man's first pick...but that's ok. Not every book is. And this book, while being excellently written and planned out, is not for young readers. Marie-Antoinette's life is very PG-13...from the things she did to the things that people said she did to the things that happened to her. Not only is this book fairly violent (more than I was expecting, that's for sure), but it holds some mild sexual comments and issues that should be considered. If I could sum up this entire book in one word, I'd choose the word chilling. It was excellent, but it made my heart race and goosebumps form on my arms. Especially the end. I couldn't believe the incredible ability with which Carolyn Meyers relates the last few years of Marie-Antoinette's life. It was cold, depressing, and full of sorrow. It really happened. The life of this bad queen was not meant to end happy, as she and her husband faced their deaths at the dreaded Madame la Guillotine.
pagese More than 1 year ago
I've only read one other book about Marie Antoinette, so when this one came up I thought I would give it a shot. Since, it seemed more of a young adult book, I thought maybe I might enjoy it more. While, I'm sure plenty of people (teens especially) might enjoy this book, I was surprised to find it didn't differ that much from the book I already read. I'm having a hard time understanding Marie Antoinette as a person and this book doesn't help me much. I think this book focuses more on her youth which makes sense since it is a young adult novel. Being the youngest girl of 16 children, I get the feeling she didn't get much attention in her household. That is until her mother married her to the Dauphin of France. All of a sudden she's very much in the public eye. But, I don't think she was adequately taught on what the means. She tries to please too many people at first and doesn't know how to balance it all. And then she decides to focus on herself, with very little regard for the consequences. It's almost like she thought, "I'm royalty and I desire all of these things no matter what the cost." Yet, I wonder if it didn't matter what she did. I wonder what might have happened had she listened to the advice her mother was constantly giving her. But, I think the French people were already disenchanted with royalty long before she was there. She could have lived like the rest of the people and the commoners probably would have still seen her as an outsider. It's heartbreaking to watch the people target her and the rest of the nobility. I think it would have be a terrifying to time to live in France. I think you would enjoy this book if you haven't read anything else about Marie Antoinette. For me, it didn't add anything new to what I've already read. I would like a book that focuses more on her adult life. I've read that she cut household expenses and tried to do other things to ease the people's suffering. But neither of the books I've read touch on those things. I just feel like I'm missing something about her life.