Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette

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For more than two centuries Marie Antoinette has been vilified as the heartless, frivolous queen who spent lavishly while her people starved. Now, in the tradition of The Birth of Venus and The Other Boleyn Girl, this moving novel tells her side of the story.

Imagine that, on the night before she is to die under the blade of the guillotine, Marie Antoinette leaves behind in her prison cell a diary telling the story of her life—from her privileged childhood as Austrian ...

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The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette: A Novel

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Overview

For more than two centuries Marie Antoinette has been vilified as the heartless, frivolous queen who spent lavishly while her people starved. Now, in the tradition of The Birth of Venus and The Other Boleyn Girl, this moving novel tells her side of the story.

Imagine that, on the night before she is to die under the blade of the guillotine, Marie Antoinette leaves behind in her prison cell a diary telling the story of her life—from her privileged childhood as Austrian Archduchess to her years as glamorous mistress of Versailles to the heartbreak of imprisonment and humiliation during the French Revolution. Carolly Erickson takes us deep into the psyche of France’s doomed queen: her love affair with handsome Swedish diplomat Count Axel Fersen, who risked his life to save her on the terrifying night the Parisian mob broke into her palace bedroom intent on murdering her and her family; her harrowing flight from France in disguise, her recapture and the grim months of harsh captivity; her agony when her beloved husband was guillotined and her beloved son was torn from her arms, never to be seen again.

Erickson brilliantly captures the queen’s voice, her hopes, her dreads, her suffering. We follow, mesmerized, as she reveals every detail of her remarkable, eventful life, from her teenage years when she began keeping a diary to her final days when she awaited her own bloody appointment with the guillotine.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“The old ‘let them eat cake’ myth has once and forever been exploded, yet the author resists the temptation to sentimentalize or simplify the maddeningly complex character of Marie Antoinette.” —Robin Maxwell, author of The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn
Judith Warner
She presents, overall, a very human and multi-textured portrait of a queen who all too often has been reduced to a historical one-liner. Her Marie Antoinette is a dutiful daughter, a devoted mother, a committed wife and a passionate romantic. She even has a social conscience. This may be pure fiction, but it hardly matters. As the chronicle of one woman's life and loves, The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette rings true.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Historian Erickson (Bloody Mary; To the Scaffold; etc.) makes her first foray into fiction with this invented journal kept by the notorious queen who was sent to the guillotine during the French Revolution in 1793. Recounting her childhood as Austrian Archduchess Maria Antonia, her marriage to feckless Frenchman Louis XVI and her na ve pangs of conscience about hungry peasants clamoring at the gates of Versailles, Erickson delivers a spirited blend of fiction and fact. While Marie Antoinette's love affair with Swedish nobleman Axel Fersen is well-documented, other characters pivotal to Erickson's plot are pure fabrication: swarthy servant Eric, his jealous wife, Amelie, and the queen's confessor, Father Kuthibert. These inventions add color to the story of the ruler inaccurately linked to the phrase "Let them eat cake!" The novel's narrative engagingly reflects Marie Antoinette's progression from privileged adolescent to royal mother of four (though only one daughter and son survived into adulthood), and Erickson's descriptions of pomp and circumstance lend flavor and flair. While France's most infamous queen was clearly more sybarite than saint, Erickson's lively account reveals a woman whose bravery and resilience seem as noteworthy as the bloody details of her demise. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
At 13, Maria Antonia, Archduchess of Austria, does not realize that she will be remembered as one of the most notorious queens in history. In historian Erickson's fascinating first novel, Marie Antoinette records her life in a secret diary, revealing a vibrant and intelligent woman little known by the masses who later executed her. Instead of the frivolous, sex-crazed maniac she was labeled, this is a woman who loves her children, is fond of her husband, and feels some pangs of guilt for the poor. But as the product of her upbringing, she does not see the imminent danger in living extravagantly. She is desperate for her husband to be a leader and, later, when their lives are in danger, for him to flee. This intimate look at a misunderstood woman by the author of a biography on the same subject (To the Scaffold: The Life of Marie Antoinette) is highly recommended for all libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/05.]-Anna M. Nelson, Collier Cty. P.L., Naples, FL Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Best known for her highly readable biographies of European nobility, Erickson tries her hand at historical fiction. She approaches the life of one of France's most notorious queens from a first-person perspective, which allows her cleverly to blend fact and fiction. The diary spans 24 years, from Marie's childhood in Vienna to the eve of her execution. She is married to Crown Prince Louis at age 14 to form a political alliance. Her husband is shy and reclusive, given to escaping to the woods to catalog plants, and has little interest in women, including his wife. Even after he becomes Louis XVI, his eccentricities keep him cut off from the world. Marie Antoinette, meanwhile, hides her loneliness in extravagant parties and frivolous expenditures. No wonder that as the years progress both sovereigns are more and more out of touch with the populace. Erickson's picture of the queen is much different from the uncaring, "Let them eat cake" persona that is popularly evoked. There is no attempt to hide her tragic flaws, but her generosity, good intentions, and deep love for her children humanize her and make her more of a three-dimensional character. The use of the diary is, at times, contrived and awkward: in an attempt to provide background information, the queen's writing is inconsistent in places. However, this is an excellent piece of historical fiction, and a valuable companion to more accurate biographies.-Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Library System, VA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Erickson (Lilibet: An Intimate Portrait of Elizabeth II, 2004, etc.) tries to get inside the mind of Marie Antoinette and winds up reinventing her as a Harlequin romance-style heroine. As represented in this fictional diary, which she began keeping at age 13, Marie Antoinette is no Mensa candidate, to be sure-but what leading lady in a melodrama is? Like girls her age, she's obsessed with boys and her burgeoning libido. Unlike other girls, however, she's forced into an arranged marriage to the heir to the throne of France at age 14. Leaving her home and family is understandably traumatic, and, as any student of European history knows, the hits just keep on coming. Her life has all the makings of a prime-time soap opera, and we're in for a sudsy ride as young Antoinette falls for her stablehand, marries pudgy prince Louis XVI, gets sexual tips from the local courtesan, is indoctrinated into the malicious backbiting world of the King's court, becomes Queen, takes a gallant Swedish lover and pops out a few kids. Between parties and bouts of swooning over her Swede, Antoinette develops an affection for and loyalty to her dotty, neurotic husband. She also becomes increasingly aware that something is amiss in her adopted country-why are those pesky peasants throwing mud at the palace gates? Oh! It's because they're starving! Her diary entries at age 30 are strikingly similar to those at 14, only her interests have widened to include fashion, sex and palace politics, i.e., bossing people around. When the French Revolution comes pounding at her door, she's struck dumb by its severity. As the public cries for her blood, she finally grasps the seriousness of the situation, and, seemingly overnight,becomes tender-hearted and goes to the guillotine with her head held high. More pulp romance than historical fiction.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593978297
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio
  • Publication date: 9/1/2005
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Abridged
  • Product dimensions: 5.82 (w) x 5.26 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Distinguished historian CAROLLY ERICKSON is the author of The First Elizabeth, Great Catherine, Alexandra and a dozen other prize-winning biographies. She lives in Hawaii.

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Read an Excerpt



The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette



A Novel



By Erickson, Carolly


St. Martin's Griffin



Copyright © 2006

Erickson, Carolly

All right reserved.


ISBN: 0312361505



Chapter One 

June 17, 1769
 
My name is Archduchess Maria Antonia, called Antoinette, and I am thirteen years and seven months old, and this is the record of my life.
 
Writing in this journal is my punishment. Father Kunibert, my confessor, has told me to write down all my sins in this journal so that I may reflect on them and pray for forgiveness.
 
"Write!" he said, pushing the book toward me, his thick white eyebrows going up, making him look ferocious.
 
"Write what you have done! Confess!"
 
"But I have done nothing wrong," I tell him.
 
"Write it down. Then we will see. Put there everything you did, starting with last Friday. And leave nothing out!"
 
Very well, I will put down in this book all that I did on the day I went to see Josepha, and what happened afterward, and then I will show Father Kunibert what I have written and make my confession.
 
Tomorrow I will begin.
 
June 18, 1769
 
It is very hard and sad to write what happened, because I am so very sorry that my sister was in such pain. I tried to tell Father Kunibert this, but he just opened the journal and handed me the box of sharpened quills. He is a hard man, as Carlotta says. He does not listen toexplanations.
 
On Friday morning, then, this is what I did.
 
I borrowed a plain black cloak and hood from my maid Sophie, and put a silver crucifix around my neck such as the Sisters of Mercy wear. I prepared a basket with fresh loaves and a ripe cheese and some strawberries from the palace garden. Without telling Sophie or anyone else where I was going, I went at night to the old abandoned stables where I was sure my sister Josepha was being kept.
 
Josepha had been missing for a week, ever since she became hot with fever and began to cough. No one would tell me where she was, so I had to find out by asking the servants. Servants know everything that happens in the palace, even what goes on between the master and mistress in the privacy of their bedroom. I found out from Eric, the stable boy who grooms my riding horse Lysander that there was a sick girl in the basement of the old riding school. He had seen the Sisters of Mercy going there at night, and once he saw our court physician Dr. Van Swieten go in and come out again very quickly, holding a handkerchief over his mouth and looking very pale.
 
I was sure my sister Josepha was there, lying in the dark probably, sick and lonely, waiting to die. I had to go to her. I had to tell her that she was not forgotten or abandoned.
 
So I wrapped the black cloak around me and went out. The candle I carried guttered in the wind as I crossed the courtyard and made my way along the arcaded walkway and out into the stable yard. There were no lights in the old riding school, no one ever went there and no horses were kept tethered in its stalls.
 
I tried to keep my thoughts on Josepha, but my fear rose as I entered the dark building with its high domed ceiling. Dim shapes loomed up amid the darkness. When I shone my light on them they turned out to be cupboards for harnesses and empty bins that had once held hay.
 
All was silent, except for the creaking of the old timbers in the roof and the distant calling of the palace sentinels as they made their rounds. I found steps leading down into more darkness. I started to go down, praying that my candle would not go out, and trying not to think of the stories Sophie liked to tell about the palace ghost, the Gray Lady who walked weeping through the corridors at night and sometimes flew in at the windows.
 
"Don't be foolish, Antonia," my mother would say when I asked her about the Gray Lady, "there are no ghosts. When we die, we die. We do not live on as disembodied spirits. Only peasants believe such nonsense."
 
I respected my mother's wisdom, but I wasn't sure about the ghosts. Sophie had seen the Gray Lady several times, she said, and many others had seen her too.
 
To keep my mind off ghosts I called out to Josepha as I descended the stairs.
 
I thought I heard a weak cry.
 
I called out again, and this time I was sure I heard an answer.
 
But the voice I heard was not my sister's. Josepha had a strong, laughing voice. The voice I heard now was pinched and thin, and terribly anxious.
 
"Don't come any nearer, whoever you are," it said. "I have the pox. If you come near me you will die."
 
"I hear you, I'm almost there," I called out, ignoring the warning.
 
I found her in a small, cell-like room where a lantern hanging from a nail in the wall gave the only light. I could not help but gag, the stench in the room was so overwhelming. A powerful, cloying odor, not the odor of decay or dirt but a sickly, ghastly stench of rot.
 
From where she lay in her narrow bed Josepha lifted one weak arm as if to ward me off.
 
"Please, dearest Antonia, turn back. Go back."
 
I was crying. What the weak lantern-light showed me was monstrous. Josepha's skin was purple, and full of blisters. Her face was swollen and red, her cheeks puffed out grotesquely, and there was blood dripping from her nose. Her eyes were bloodshot.
 
"I love you," I said through my tears. "I am praying for you." I put down the basket, wondering whether rats would come and eat the food I had brought. But then I thought, the smell in this room is so terrible not even rats would come near.
 
"I am so thirsty," came the voice from the bed.
 
I took from my basket the bottle of wine I had brought and set it beside Josepha's bed. With difficulty she raised herself, reached for the bottle and drank. I could tell she was having trouble swallowing.
 
"Oh, Antonia," she said when she had put the bottle down, "I have such terrible dreams! Fire coming down, and burning us all up. Mother on fire, screaming. Father, laughing while he watches us all burn."
 
"It is only the sickness that makes you dream such things. We are all safe, there is no fire." But there is, I thought. There is the fire of the cowpox, that makes Josepha burn with fever and turns her brain to madness.
 
"You must have medicine, you must get well."
 
"The sisters give me brandy and valerian, but it doesn't help. I know they have given up on me."
 
"I have not. I will come back, I promise."
 
"No. Stay away. Everyone must stay away."
 
Her voice grew fainter. She was going to sleep. "Dear Antonia . . ."
 
My tears were falling fast, but I knew I couldn't stay. I couldn't risk being missed. No one knew where I had gone, I hadn't even told Carlotta, with whom I share my bedroom.
 
So I left Josepha, and went back up the dark stairs and out through the old riding school and back along the torchlit arcade to the palace.
 
The next day I was in the room when Dr. Van Swieten came to see my mother the empress. My brother Joseph, who is twenty-six and who has just buried his second wife, was also there. Ever since our father died, our mother has looked to Joseph for help in governing her many lands. One day after she dies Joseph will rule them all, so he needs to learn. Already he has the firmness that my mother says all rulers need. But I have heard her say to Count Khevenhüller that Joseph does not yet have the necessary compassion and concern for people that he will need if he is to rule well.
 
"What of Josepha?" my mother asked the doctor as he bowed and murmured "Your imperial highness."
 
"It is the black pox."
 
I saw my mother blanch, and Joseph turn his face away. The black pox was the severest kind of cowpox. No one ever survived it. When there was black pox in Vienna we children were always taken away at once into the country, so that we would not become ill. Servants with black pox were turned out of the palace and sent as far away as possible. None ever returned. And now my sister Josepha was dying of it too.
 
"It is perfectly horrifying," the doctor was saying. "I have seen it often before. There is no point in trying to preserve life once the pox takes hold. The archduchess cannot be saved. She can only make others ill."
 
"Is she receiving every care?" I heard my mother ask.
 
"Of course. The Sisters of Mercy visit her, and the dairymaids." It was well known that dairymaids were spared from being struck down with the cowpox. For some reason, they could care for sick people without fear of becoming sick themselves.
 
"No one must know who she is," Joseph boomed out. "No one from the court must be allowed near her. We cannot have another outbreak of Pox Fear, like last summer."
 
Whenever the cowpox appeared, people panicked. The entire town caught the Pox Fear. There were frenzied efforts to escape the sickness. Terrified householders, trying to flee, were trampled or crushed to death.
 
No one wanted the Pox Fear to invade the palace, where hundreds of servants and officials lived in close quarters and served the empress and our family.
 
"That is understood," Dr. Van Swieten said. "The archduchess is being kept where no one will find her."
 
I almost spoke up then, but managed to hold my tongue. Standing beside my mother, I heard her black silk skirts rustling, and was aware that she was trembling.
 
"I can't lose any more of my children," she was saying. "First my dear Karl, and then Johanna, only eleven when she died, poor girl, and now my lovely Josepha, so young, and about to be married--"
 
"You have ten of us left, maman." Joseph's voice was cutting. He knew that although he was the eldest son, and our mother's heir, she had preferred Karl, and loved him more. "Surely ten children is a sufficient number."
 
I am fond of my brother Joseph, but he does not understand what it is to love someone. When our father died four years ago he did not weep, but snorted with contempt.
 
"He was a lazy do-nothing, surrounded by idle hangers-on," I heard him say. He refused even to lay a wreath on father's grave, though he did offer his arm to mother at the funeral.
 
Joseph is twenty-six, and has been married twice, but he did not grieve for either of his wives when they died, or for the poor little dead baby his first wife gave him. Joseph is hard for me to understand.
 
"How much longer will she live?" Joseph asked Dr. Van Swieten.
 
"A few days perhaps."
 
"When she dies, have the body taken away quickly. Let there be no announcement. She will not be missed. One excess daughter more or less--"
 
"Joseph! That will do." My mother spoke firmly, but I could hear the panic in her voice.
 
But my brother, in his bitterness, went on.
 
"And I want the body burned. Along with all her clothes and effects."
 
"Enough! What you propose is unchristian. I will never allow it. You forget yourself."
 
"Such foolishness!" I heard Joseph mutter. "To believe that some day all the bodies of the dead will sit up in their graves, and come back to life. A priest's fairy tale."
 
"We will abide by the teachings of the church," my mother said quietly. "We are not heathens, or sectarians. Besides, Josepha is still alive. And while she lives, there is hope. I will retire now to my chapel to pray for her. And I recommend that you do the same."
 
To the doctor she said, "I want to be informed if there is any change in her condition."
 
At this I could keep still no longer.
 
"Oh maman, there is such a terrible change in her. You would not believe it!" Tears ran down my face as I spoke.
 
My mother looked down at me, her eyes grave. Joseph glared at me in fury. Dr. Van Swieten gasped.
 
"Explain yourself, Antonia," said mother calmly.
 
"I have seen her. She is all puffed up, and black and purple, and she smells horrible. And they keep her in a dark rathole under the old riding school, where no one ever goes." I looked up into my mother's eyes. "She's dying, maman. She's dying."
 
Instead of enfolding me in her black silk skirts, as I expected her to do, my mother took several steps back from me, so that I could no longer smell her familiar smell, a combination of ink and rosewater.
 
"Your imperial highnesses must withdraw," Dr. Van Swieten said to my mother and Joseph, who were both putting more distance between themselves and me. "I will take charge of her. She will be watched for signs of the black pox." He motioned to one of the tall footmen standing at the back of the large room, waiting for orders.
 
"Send for my assistant, at once. And the dairymaids."
 
I was taken to the old guards' quarters and kept there, watched by two village women, one old, one young, until they were certain I was not going to become sick like my sister. All my clothes were taken away and burned, and Sophie sent new clothes. When I was putting them on a note fell out. It was from my sister Carlotta.
 
"Dearest Antoinette," she wrote, "how brave you were, to visit poor Josepha. Everyone knows what you did. We all have to pretend to disapprove but we admire you. I hope you don't get sick. Joseph is angry. I love you."
 
July 3, 1769
 
I have decided not to show this book to Father Kunibert. It will be my record, my private journal, of my life. Mine alone.
 
So much has happened to me in the past several weeks. I have been kept away from poor Josepha, who died on the third day after I visited her. I try not to think of her in her suffering, but I know I will never forget how she looked, there in her cot, when I found her.
 
Father Kunibert says I must reflect on my disobedience, and pray to be forgiven. He says I must be grateful to be alive. But I do not feel grateful, only full of sorrow. I was not allowed to attend the brief funeral mass for Josepha, because I was still being watched by the dairymaids, who inspected my hands and arms and face every morning and evening for pox blisters and murmured to one another and shook their heads over me.
 
I have thought about death, and how Josepha only had seventeen years on earth, so brief a season! Why do some die and some live? I can write no more about this, I am too full of sorrow.
 
July 15, 1769
 
Finally Dr. Van Swieten has let me return to the apartments I share with Carlotta. I do not have the cowpox.
 
July 28, 1769
 
This morning Sophie got me up early and dressed me with extra care. I asked her why but she wouldn't tell me. I knew it had to be something important when I saw her bring out my pale blue silk ball gown with the silver lamé trim and the pink satin rosettes on the bodice.
 
My hair was brushed and pinned back from my face and a silver-gray wig put over it. The wig was becoming, and made me look very old I thought, especially when Sophie threaded pearls through it.
 
I have always been told that I look like my father, who was very handsome. Like him I have a wide forehead and large eyes set far apart. My eyes are light blue like my mother's and she likes me to dress in blue to bring out their color.
 
I could tell, as Sophie dressed me, that she was satisfied with the effect. She smiled to herself and hummed as she worked. Sophie has been my maid ever since I was seven years old and she was fifteen, and she knows me better than anyone, better even than my mother and Carlotta.
 
When I was ready I was taken into the grand salon where my mother was. There were several men with her, and they all stared hard at me as I entered the room and walked to my mother's side.
 
"Antonia, dear, this is Prince Kaunitz and this is the Duc de Choiseul." Both men bowed to me and I inclined my head in acknowledgment, feeling the unaccustomed weight of the wig as I did so.
 
My dancing master Monsieur Noverre came forward and signaled for the court musicians to play. He led me in the polonaise and then the allemande as the gentlemen watched closely. My harp was brought forward and I played several simple tunes--I am not a very accomplished harpist--and I sang an aria by Herr Gluck who had taught me to play the clavichord when I was younger.
 
Trays of coffee and pastries were brought in and I sat with my mother and the prince and the duke talking of one thing and another. I felt rather foolish in my ball gown but we passed a pleasant half-hour chatting, and I did my best to answer the questions put to me, questions about everything from my religious education to my knowledge of geography and history to my ideas about marriage.
 
"Naturally you hope to marry one day," Prince Kaunitz said amiably. "And what is your idea of the perfect wife?"
 
"One who loves her husband dearly, as my mother loved my father."
 
"And presents him with sons," the Duc de Choiseul added.
 
"Yes, of course. And daughters too, if the lord wills it."
 
"To be sure. Daughters too."
 
"Do you believe, archduchess, that a wife must obey her husband in all things?"
 
I thought for a moment. "I hope that when I marry, my husband and I will decide together what is best, and act as one."
 
The two men looked at one another, and I thought I saw a faint look of amusement in their faces.
 
"Thank you, Archduchess Antonia, for your frankness and your courtesy."
 
My mother and the men rose and walked the length of the enormous room, deep in conversation.
 
"Physically, she is perfect," the duke said. "Her education has been inadequate, but she can be taught. There is great charm--"
 
"And a good heart, a very good heart," I heard my mother add.
 
They took their time, walking and talking, Prince Kaunitz gesticulating, the duke more measured, more calculated in his movements and his tone.
 
"This is the alliance we have long hoped for," I heard my mother say. "The union of Hapsburg and Bourbon will secure our fortune, long after I am gone."
 
"Austria is not our enemy," the duke said. "Britain is. We must fortify ourselves against Britain."
 
"And we must fortify ourselves against Prussia," Prince Kaunitz countered. "The interests of both Austria and France will be served by this marriage. And the sooner it is made, the better."
 
...
 
Copyright 2005 by Carolly Erickson. All rights reserved.


Continues...




Excerpted from The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette
by Erickson, Carolly
Copyright © 2006 by Erickson, Carolly.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.


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Reading Group Guide

Imagine that, on the night before she is to die under the blade of the guillotine, Marie Antoinette leaves behind in her prison cell a diary telling the story of her life—from her privileged childhood as Austrian Archduchess to her years as glamorous mistress of Versailles to the heartbreak of imprisonment and humiliation during the French Revolution.

Carolly Erickson takes the reader deep into the psyche of France’s doomed queen: her love affair with handsome Swedish diplomat Count Axel Fersen, who risked his life to save her; her fears on the terrifying night the Parisian mob broke into her palace bedroom intent on murdering her and her family; her harrowing attempted flight from France in disguise; her recapture and the grim months of harsh captivity; her agony when her beloved husband was guillotined and her young son was torn from her arms, never to be seen again.

Erickson brilliantly captures the queen’s voice, her hopes, her dreads, and her suffering. We follow, mesmerized, as she reveals every detail of her remarkable, eventful life—from her teenage years when she began keeping a diary to her final days when she awaited her own bloody appointment with the guillotine.

Read More Show Less

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 123 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2007

    A reviewer

    I'm a huge fan of historical fiction and, though a history buff, I can ignore historical inaccuracies for the sake of a good story. However, this was, quite possibly, THE WORST story I have ever read. The plot is simplistic and trite, the characters are all unsympathetic and I was quite glad that Erickson's incredibly evil National Assembly condemned them all to death. She ignored the complexities of the people and the time period and instead chose to invent characters and events that were incredibly inane and were much more boring than what actually happened. The author very obviously did not bother to do much research and her account of the French Revolution reads like royalist propaganda. Robespierre, who historically was a soft-spoken idealist called 'the Incorruptible' shows up as The Source of All Evil, whom we are supposed to hate because he has pockmarks 'he didn't' and he blames Marie for quite rightly conspiring with Austria. Marie herself is horribly unsympathetic and I wanted to hit her over the head with a shovel. She is stupid, vapid, irritating, and selfish. It is remarkably easy to make Marie Antoinette sympathetic. Who wouldn't feel sorry for a 14-year-old princess taken away from everything she holds dear to the very bewildering court of Versailles? However, by zeroing in on the flippant, frivolous twit who ramped up the national debt because she just *had* to have a new diamond necklace, Erickson made Marie Antoinette one-dimensional and thoroughly boring when she wasn't thoroughly irritating. Erickson offers no motivations for any of her characters' actions, offers an incredibly vacuous view of a highly complicated time and completely ignores historical people and events for invented, trite, boring, and incredibly stupid characters and actions that she made up entirely. This was a terrible, terrible book, and I hope Carolly Erickson will learn to a. research before attempting an historical novel, and b. learn that people have motivations for actions and are seldom one-dimensional. I wish I could have a refund, and/or give this book zero stars. It was really that bad.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 24, 2011

    Disappointed

    This book was a complete disappointment. It wasn't until the very end that the author decided to acknowledge it's fabricated. I knew some of it would be imaginative, but believed most would be based on fact. It was a waste of my time and money.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 26, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A Good Fiction ('fiction' being the operative word) Novel.

    This was a really good fiction novel however was completely innaccurate to the point that it actually made me wonder if the writer knew anything about Marie Antoinette and for that matter the French Revolution. As a complete work of fiction I found it really good but I also think that it's important for a fiction novel based on actual events to be accurate. Two of the things that bothered me the most was her portrayal of Louis XVI as a simpleton rather than a reluctant King, the explosive arguments between Marie Antoinette and Madame Du Barry which never happened because Marie Antoinette prided herself on never speaking to the woman until she was forced into it by Count Mercy and her mother, Louis-Joseph died of tuberculosis and was never diagnosed has having a curvature of the spine. This is just a few inaccuracies the ones which bothered me the most. Over all it's a good book not one I would recommend for someone looking for a fictionalized novel based in fact.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 24, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Review from www.pagese.wordpress.com

    I'll be the first to admit that I don't know much about Marie Antoinette. And, what I do know probably comes from the movies. She usually isn't portrayed very kindly there. I had built this image of a young women who liked parties, clothes, and basic extravagance. This book took an extreme opposite view. It touched on the rumors surrounding the Queen, but I never got a good feel for how the Queen felt about this. The book seems to down play all of that, when in fact that malicious gossip eventually made the people of France hate her. She had to have realized that but she seems really detached from her people and her country. I'm sure the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Although, I'm sure we will never know the whole truth surrounding all the gossip.

    I did really enjoy the format of the book. The diary entries made it seem like more of a possibility that this was who the Queen really was. I learned a few things I did not know. Plus, it made me want to read more historical fiction about Marie Antoinette. Some seem to complain about some characters being made up, but I able to take that in because I know it is historical fiction. I know that not everything is fact. Overall, and interesting read, but I feel it's steeped more in fiction than in fact.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Very, very good book.

    I think this would be for 6th grade and up (I read it in 5th, but whatever) This book has very serious issues, along with very true and good characters. The (more or less) fictional life or Marie Antoinette is very interesting. Here comes the famous guilitine (probably didn't spell that right) watch out Marie...

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    fine historical fiction

    In 1769, Father Kunibert demands that thirteen years old Archduchess Maria Antonia called Antoinette to confess her sins by writing them down in a journal. Thus starts a record of her life through her eyes that she maintains until her last entry while residing in Conciergie Prison in Oct 1793. Early on at fourteen, she is to save Austria by marrying the Bourbon heir to the throne of France. Over the next two decades she takes lovers, but supports her husband King Louis XVI. When the peasants storm the palace, she is as unprepared as the other nobles especially her spouse. As she realizes they will get their pint of blood and more, she keeps her head up until she meets Madam Guillotine. --- Using real historical events over the latter half of the eighteenth century, Carolly Erickson provides a provocative fictionalized autobiography of Marie Antoinette. Fans obtain a taste of how the royal court perceived life including their take on the peasant class. Though there is too much titillating tease about Maria¿s affairs that takes away from the insightful look at the events and misinterpretation of these incidents that lead to the downfall of royalty, THE HIDDEN DIARY OF MARIE ANTOINETTE remains a fine work of historical fiction. --- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 1, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Carolly Erickson is known for her historical works, including st

    Carolly Erickson is known for her historical works, including stories about Mary, Queen of Scots, Catherine the Great, and the many wives of King Henry VIII.  In this novel, she turns to Marie Antoinette, once Queen of France and victim of the French Revolution.  The story itself is richly told, from before her marriage to the Dauphin of France all the way to her final days.  If you enjoy history or are just looking for an incredible read, you will like this!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2013

    Mediocre, at best

    Glorifies the French monarchy, which was oppressive and (underLouis XVI) inept. The revolutioaries were murderous and were rezponsible for years of horror. I'm zurethat Marie Antoinette wasn't as sympathetic as she'sdepicted here.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2012

    Best book i ever read

    Amazing.. truly amazing. Please read you will not be dissapointed. Great emitional depth and character development. Hands down the best i have read and my official new favorite.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2012

    This is a work of highly fictionalized history, but I couldn't p

    This is a work of highly fictionalized history, but I couldn't put the book down. This was a fun read and got me interested in learning more about the actual history behind the story. I would definitely recommend this book and I look forward to reading it again!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2012

    Nadia

    Another great book that held my attention from beginning to end.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 10, 2011

    highly recommended

    i loveeee history and marie is one of my favorites .this book put a new understanding to her and i loved it .

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  • Posted April 13, 2011

    Enjoyable, educational

    I enjoy the story of Marie Antoinette, so I enjoyed this book a lot. It was suspenseful and was hard to put down. I read through it very quickly. We all know how it's going to end, but the meat of it was extremely detailed and kept my attention. I learned a lot about Marie Antoinette and how she must of felt at any given point in her life. I like how it is written in actual diary entries, it makes a fun and easy read. I would highly recommend this.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2011

    One of the Best Books I've Ever Read

    This book is one you won't be able to put down!!!!!!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 14, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Highly Recommend!

    If you love history and don't mind that this is a true yet fictional story. What I mean is Marie Antionette never had a diary, however all the events in the book happened as they are described.

    I personally love this book-it is one of my favorites!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2010

    Loved it

    I very much enjoyed this book. This is one that I will keep and read again.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 16, 2010

    Felt like it was Marie Antoinette talking

    Carolly Erickson's books are always great. She did an excellent job as usual describing Marie's feelings during her life

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Amazing!!!

    The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette is my all time FAVORITE book!!! It's an amazing read! I just love the book and the author!

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  • Posted December 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Interesting perspective...

    This book gives the reader a whole new perspective on a well-known character in history. While a novel, it makes the reader think of Marie Antoinette as more of a person with feelings and dreams, than just of a doomed character in history. While she may have made mistakes in her short life, she was still a young woman in a role of postion and influence. Most people are quick to judge and maybe not as aware of her insecurities as a woman. A very good and well written story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2009

    marie antoinette

    I was a little dissapointed with the detail in this book. After reading some of the author's Tudor books I was expecting a more in depth historical account of marie antoinette's life, but it was all in all a good read.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 123 Customer Reviews

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