Title: The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette
Author: Carolly Erickson
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.
What did you think of the book?
(Why this book?, New Author? Read more by author? Keeping?)
I think a friend recommended the book to me and I thought it sounded interesting. Carolly Erickson was very new to me and I think I might just look into other books by her. She gives this feel that she isn't the one that is writing but rather Queen Mary Antoinette. It really feels like the Queens diary.
You get to experience life through Marie Antoinette's eyes as a young girl before her betrothal to Prince Louis (later King Louis the VXI). We get to see her perspective on meeting Louis for the first time and his awkward social skills. She continually relates Louis inability to act as King along with the poor decisions being made on a regular basis, many things she contributes to unknowingly or without full understanding. You do get the impression that as young as she was, she didn't understand the predicament she had gotten herself into until it was too late.
I can't say I knew much about Marie Antoinette before I started reading this book, or her children, except that she was beheaded by the guillotine. Because of my lack of knowledge I read up on her, her son, the downfall of her and her husbands reign and the time leading up to their deaths.
No one can say that they were a good ruling monarchy. In fact, from everything you read you begin to realize that Louis was a very poor monarch and Marie Antoinette pretty much acted the part of a teenager having fun and partying and carrying on. While Louis continued to make poor decisions, in Marie Antoinette's later years she started to realize the problems going on in their monarch and tried to her limited ability to do something but having little experience and next to no allies, there was little she could do.
I think the book accurately accomplishes portraying this fact. While you know what is going to happen to Marie Antoinette you still have a sense of excitement and hope at all the escape attempts and the promises made by Count Fersen (a real life love) to try their best to help her and her children. There are so many moments that really pulled a few tears for me, so of them sad life events and others just the bitter sweet finality of history.
While everything written in this "diary" is not true, it seems that Carolly Erickson did her best to portray Marie Antoinette's world and entries with as much true facts as possible. And while some characters are made up to add something to the story, a lot of the people in the story were actual people in Marie Antoinette's life.
This book is well worth the time it takes to read it.