Tuesday, 6 October 2015

The Empress of Hearts by E Barrington

Title: The Empress of Hearts
Author: E Barrington
From: Netgalley
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: 1928
Challenges: 2015 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

The end of Marie Antoinette is well known, but how was it that she got there? When Con-woman, Jeanne, sees a chance to dismantle the famous Boehmer necklace for money, she sets off the chain of events leading to Marie Antoinette's downfall, bringing in players from the jeweler himself to a Cardinal. When her duplicity is uncovered it is already too late, and even if Marie Antoinette had nothing to do with the plot, there is nothing that will convince the French public of that.

I have no idea where to actually start with this review...the book left me severely disappointed on several fronts, and I think that one of those is probably on the false advertising. The cover, and the name (as well as the release date on Netgalley) led me to believe it would be a more lighthearted and romantic retelling of Marie Antoinette, whereas actually the book definitely reflects the writing style and demands of it's original publish date, 1928.

 I think that if I had known this then there is a chance that I wouldn't have picked up Empress of Hearts, but as it is I did and have finished it, though it took some convincing to make myself do at times. I do also have another book by Barrington, Anne Boleyn, and I am now a little wary of picking that up, despite being interested in the historical character, as I am with Marie Antoinette.

There was a lot of factual dropping in The Empress of Hearts. In fact at some points I thought it weighed down the text, again I do think this is something that was down to the original writing period, and even as someone who knows a fair bit about the French Revolution I found it hard going. Not because the facts were dull themselves, but in the way they were put across. At times this didn't seem like a work of fiction .

I think my main problem with The Empress of Hearts though was that there was very little character development. I didn't feel that any of the characters got enough consecutive page time to develop. Even Marie Antoinette, an already colourful character, and Jeanne, who could have been, didn't seem any more than two dimensional.

On the plus side, for the most part the facts surrounding the necklace con seemed to be at least fairly factual, and it was more in keeping with the time period it was set in than some historical fiction books.