the next good book


By Sena Jeter Naslund


539 pages

What’s it about? This work of historical fiction follows Marie Antionette from her arrival in France in 1770 to her death in 1793. What did I think? Overall I enjoyed this book.   Marie Antoinette was an interesting character, in an interesting time.  I must admit that I did find the book to be tedious at times, especially in the middle of the novel.  The language is so superfluous that I got tired, and I often just wanted the author to say a simple sentence.  I think the idea was to give us a taste of how a noble person would have spoken or written in the 1700’s, but it added to the tedium at times.  An example, “Not I, not I, not I.  I am so content, my being dissolves into a boundarylessness.  I am nothing and everything, I am every place and no place.  What other word than bliss can describe the conjunction of like minds?”    So she has met someone and she is happy….  While the language gives us a sense of her world, it is also tiresome at times. Should you read it? I would recommend this book if you have an interest in history and a good attention span.   It does not ever give you a clear answer to who Marie Antoinette really was.  Was she a spoiled narcissist, or a truly loving, generous woman?  Was she unfaithful to the king or a devoted wife?  Some things we will never know.   If nothing else, Marie Antoinette was a woman of her time.   This book certainly gives you a picture of what a woman of that time and station was trained to become.  Some would say style over substance…  In retrospect I did enjoy this one. Quote- “Part of the chatter comes from my own lips, for Louis Auguste says scarcely a word, and I must make up for his silence and bubble with delight.  I play the role so well that I believe it myself. There will be no mistakes, or hesitations, no blots on  the dinner, just laughter and smiling lips and fond eyes: grace for everyone.” Question- Did you believe this version of Marie Antionette?

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