Tuesday, August 16, 2011

REVIEW: Becoming Marie Antoinette by Juliet Grey + GIVEAWAY

Preferring chasing butterflies to her studies, 10 year old Maria Antonia
grows up among her brothers and sisters in the Habsburg court.  Presided over by her mother, her Imperial Majesty Empress Maria Theresa, Toinette (as she is called here) soon realizes that her carefree days are about to be over as her mother has made the match of a lifetime for her-as the bride of Louis the Dauphin of France.  Now young Marie must spend her hours being molded to perfection so that she will one day be worthy of the opulent French court and her destiny as it's Queen.  The first in a trilogy,Becoming Marie Antoinette tells her story from her childhood in Austria to becoming Queen of France.

I must say I was pleasantly surprised by this book as it gave me a very detailed glimpse at life in the Austrian court and at the very rigidly structured french court as well and all through the eyes of a young girl who, try as she might, has a very difficult time pleasing those around her.  I really felt sorry for her because she is constantly criticized by her mother who makes it clear that her marriage is the hope of the Austrian empire and she MUST. NOT. FAIL. At times it seemed like her own mother and the ambassadors from the french court treated her more like a show pony than a human being. 

Grey takes us through the intricate process Marie Antoinette goes through to be worthy of the french court, a long and arduous process which I found quite fascinating. Although it is often pointed out that Marie Antoinette was sorely lacking in the education department, it is clear she was smart in her own way.  She tries her hardest to adapt to the french court and also to win the affections of her husband.  I also felt sorry for her in this regard because she had such hope going into the marriage and it becomes clear that it is going to be an uphill battle to win her painfully shy husband over.

The characters of Marie and Louis in this book are more like I picture they would have been in real life.  Often times she is portrayed as a bubble headed fashionista who basically tells the country to go hang while she spends them into ruin and he is portrayed as in inept pushover who is clearly not king material.  Here they are not like that at all and seem very genuine.

This book was well researched and very detailed.  I learned quite a bit that I didn't know (for instance ladies had a special way of walking in the french court and they even had braces back then).  The only downfall for me while reading was there was so much detail given about politics, court etiquette, manners of dress etc. that I was a little overwhelmed by it at times.   Still, I loved the way Marie Antoinette is portrayed here and I found myself really rooting for her to succeed and defy the expectations of her overbearing momma (strange, I know because we know how it all ends).  This was a wonderful look at Marie Antoinette's early years and I am definitely looking forward to next two books in this trilogy.

I am giving away my ARC of Becoming Marie Antoinette as part of my Summer of ARC's/Galleys Giveaway.  Enter HERE for your chance to win this or one of the other titles currently in the pool.

 I received this book from the publisher.  These are my honest thoughts on the book.


  1. Great review, Holly. I got this one in the mail this week and since every review I've read for it has been positive I'll have to read it sooner rather than later.

  2. I so enjoyed this one -- at times the detail was a tiny bit overwhelming but overall, I loved how human Marie Antoinette became. I'm so very excited for the second book in this series!