Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Becoming Marie Antoinette (Marie Antoinette Trilogy, Book 1) by Juliet Grey

Becoming Marie Antoinette (Marie Antoinette Trilogy, Book 1) by Juliet Grey

Completion Date: August 30, 2011
Reason for reading: Received review copy from Ballantine Books via NetGalley.
This enthralling confection of a novel, the first in a new trilogy, follows the transformation of a coddled Austrian archduchess into the reckless, powerful, beautiful queen Marie Antoinette.

Why must it be me? I wondered. When I am so clearly inadequate to my destiny?

Raised alongside her numerous brothers and sisters by the formidable empress of Austria, ten-year-old Maria Antonia knew that her idyllic existence would one day be sacrificed to her mother’s political ambitions. What she never anticipated was that the day in question would come so soon.

Before she can journey from sunlit picnics with her sisters in Vienna to the glitter, glamour, and gossip of Versailles, Antonia must change everything about herself in order to be accepted as dauphine of France and the wife of the awkward teenage boy who will one day be Louis XVI. Yet nothing can prepare her for the ingenuity and influence it will take to become queen.

Filled with smart history, treacherous rivalries, lavish clothes, and sparkling jewels, Becoming Marie Antoinette will utterly captivate fiction and history lovers alike.
There was some popularity with Marie Antoinette books a couple years ago, but despite glancing in their direction I never really read any of them. This book had been making the blog rounds lately, though, and I was curious. It is the first book in a trilogy, so even though there will be a lot of info provided by the end, it is broken up into 3 books. I thought this was a lot more practical than the chunskters I have seen on the book store shelves about her.

It is obvious that the author did a lot of research for this book. She explains at the end of the book what was true and what was a bit of tweaking on her part. It makes for a very interesting look at one of France's tragic queens. Many people know the basic story of what happened to Marie Antoinette, but this book goes back and starts when she is just a little girl and then carries on to when she marries her prince and becomes the first lady of France. Her mother tried to prepare her the best that she could, but she was very young and naive. It was an over-whelming experience for her and sometimes she did not handle things very well. It is a lot of responsibility for one so young.

It was rather interesting to watch her transformation. In order to become the dauphine of France, they have a lot of criteria for her. She needs more education, for starters. This is something that never really works for her. When she goes to France she essentially has to leave everything of Austria behind, so she also has to work on her accent. Then, there is her appearance. By rights, Marie was a very pretty little girl, but she did not meet the standards of the French monarchy. She has to drastically change her hair styles, she has a man in who painfully straightens her teeth, and she really needs to develop more. She is very slow compared to her sisters and still has a way to go when she is deemed acceptable by France. Nothing will be easy for her. She is still so young, so it has always amazed me what these young monarchs must both endure and accomplish.

This book was really quite good and I am looking forward to the next book. I want to see what Marie Antoinette accomplishes next. With history, even though you know what is going to happen, a small part of you is hoping for a different outcome. I know it is silly, but I know what lays in store for Marie and her family. I still look forward to reading on. Juliet Grey has brought France alive in this book and I look forward to living in it again next year.

I recommend this book to both historical fiction fans, readers who love Paris, or simply reads that like a compelling story.

This book counts for the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.

Cross-posted at The Written World.


  1. Thank for the review! I'm looking forward to reading this one!
    Kim @ Time 2 Read

  2. Awesome review...Thanks for posting!

  3. I am the same way - I always hope that somehow they will escape the finale history has set for them! Great review!

  4. I enjoyed this book but only had two things to quibble about - her sister's letters disappear once Marie Antoinette marries. It would have been nice to see that communication now that they were both married. The other was that I am a little exhausted by the trilogies and series that are out now. It would have made a massive book to include all her research in one novel, but for me, I think I would have preferred it. Every book seems to be book 1 of 3 lately, and I cannot stand waiting a year in between books! But, I did really enjoy the story, so I guess you can count me as one of the many who will be buying the next installment! :)

  5. I'm glad you enjoyed this one more than I did.

  6. I'm glad you enjoyed this one! It's on my TBR pile and I can't wait to read it too!

  7. Omg! I am so glad I'm not the only one who wishes history would rewrite itself if only for the course of one book!

  8. Great review! I enjoyed this book as well.

  9. Kay, I hope you enjoy it!

    Katie, I wouldn't so far as to say that about this book. Actually, not at all. It just had too many mundane details for my tastes. It was a very good story though.

    Laura, I'm glad you enjoyed it!