Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Confessions of Marie Antoinette by Juliet Grey

Title: Confessions of Marie Antoinette
Series: Marie Antoinette (#3)
Author: Juliet Grey
From: Netgalley
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: 24th September 2011
Challenges: 2015 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, COYER Scavenger Hunt
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

As one of the most hated Queens that France ever had, Marie Antoinette tries to keep her family together and her husband's throne intact against the back drop and events of the French Revolution. Now matured and aware of her mistakes, she wants what is best for her people, her husband and her children.

It took me ages to read Confessions of Marie Antoinette, which I do feel the need to explain. It was nothing to do with how much I enjoyed the book, but rather the depth of the book. It is definitely what I would call a heavy going book, not one that could be read in small parts but rather needed to be concentrated on (this is an important thing to note!)

Interestingly I didn't actually like Grey's portrayal of Marie Antoinette as a person most of the time (though the way she portrayed her was fantastic, I really liked the not all bad and not all good version of Marie Antoinette she painted a picture of). Though I didn't necessarily like her at times, I still felt sympathy for her and the injustice of the ending (which was for obvious reasons never in question).

I also found it interesting that the only character that I felt really got any focus was Marie Antoinette. There were a lot of other characters in Confessions of Marie Antoinette but I didn't feel that many of them even approached secondary character status, even Louis and Axel (husband and lover respectively) didn't play such a large role. Unless you count the people of France as a character in general (well of Paris) then I would stand by that. Strangely I thought that this actually worked well.

Something I thought that Grey did brilliantly was depicting the French Revolution. I went into this book already having a pretty good knowledge of the events (and complexities!) surrounding the first French Revolution (we did some modules on it at University) and most books gloss over some parts or romantisise it. Honestly when I lived in Paris I sometimes got the impression that even the French romantisise the Revolution(s). Grey didn't; her Revolution was like the real one. Violent, confusing, a real struggle for power and position. There were ups and downs for all the people involved and she even included Revolutionaries turning on themselves. For me, as someone that understood the basics anyway, it worked, though I suppose it could get confusing for people that aren't as aware of events.

There was a fair bit of French in the book as well, most of it was explained but some of it wasn't. I'm pretty sure it would be workout-able by context but being able to speak French to a high level, I'm not the best judge of that!

I enjoyed Confessions of Marie Antoinette, I liked the gritty realistic feel and the complex character of Marie Antoinette, even if it did take me ages to read!