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Confessions of Marie Antoinette (Marie Antoinette Trilogy) Paperback – 24 Sep 2013

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Product details

  • Paperback: 445 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (24 Sept. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345523903
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345523907
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.6 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 113,086 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Cheryl M-M TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 8 Oct. 2013
Format: Paperback
The French Revolution is nearly always portrayed in a way that downplays and romanticises the level of violence that took place. As most great nations involved in some kind of despicable conflict the French like to paint the leaders of the revolution as morally untouchable freedom fighters. When in fact the sadistic side in their personalities, their thirst for power and their lack of conscience was allowed to reign without obstruction throughout that period of time. It was a dark, bloody, violent and unforgiving time.
Marie Antoinette is often depicted as the spendthrift, the fashion savvy selfish foreigner, who dared to rule over the superior French. Fact is the country never forgave her for being Austrian. Then and even now people tend to forget that she was a mother,a friend and a wife. A strong woman deprived of her husband and her children. Kept imprisoned like a criminal and murdered by a bloodthirsty mob.
The author has tried to connect to what it must have been like for Marie in those last months of her life and although her upbringing and stance on royalty is evident, that wasn't enough of a crime to treat her as they did. The French not only blamed her for the crippling financial situation they found themselves in, they also maligned her character in the most despicable way.
Abolishing the monarchy to create a Republic and feed the common folk is one thing, but condoning mass murder, violence and unspeakable acts of gore is reprehensible.
The writing was a tad dry, especially in the first half. There is a lot of factual data thrown in and Marie doesn't really get a strong voice until the second half. Even then I think the author kept her distance from the character emotionally, perhaps in an attempt to not appear biased towards Marie in any way.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.
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Format: Paperback
Well written, with an interesting and sympathetic view of Marie Antoinette. Although I had not read the two previous books in this trilogy I found this worked well as a book in its own right. The reader may have preconceived notions of this woman, but here she is seen as a wife and mother trying to survive the tumultuous period of the French Revolution.

Reviewed in exchange for a preview Kindle copy.
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By Mrs Veronica H Nolan on 31 Mar. 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very enjoyable read another one for my collection.
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By Miffy on 29 Oct. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
FAB FAB FAB! Very cleverly written
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 72 reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
It Takes A Good Book To Make Me Teary! 7 Aug. 2013
By MusingCrow - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Not too many books are powerful enough to bring a tear to my eye, but this book certainly did do just that!

I have always been dumbstruck at the savage brutality of the French Revolution. In my eyes it seems to have been bloodier, more disorganized and more devastating than America's own Revolution. I've read many non-fiction histories about the French Revolution and biographies of Marie Antoinette. I believe that it can be difficult to portray a historically tragic figure well, without overdoing either empathy or villainy, but Juliet Grey breathes life into this book. The characters grab you into their lives and keep you riveted to the pages. I began by reading this book in the morning as I had coffee and quickly began to just sit and read, and read through to the end in a day and a half (I had to do some regular life things inbetween the pages!).

The characters are brilliantly portrayed. The French Revolution and the devastation that it brought, not only to the nobility, but to the revolutionaries themselves, are portrayed so well that you feel as though you are a part of it all. It is as if you are a part of the destruction of so many priceless artifacts, you are standing by the scaffold as men and women are swiftly dispatched by the new nation's "razor" (the infamous guillotine) . The perils and fear that the royal family endured is palpable in the pages of this book, it no wonder that Marie Antoinette's hair turned white almost overnight. It is impossible to comprehend the terror that existed during these riotous times.

Juliet Grey paints her word images artfully, and I was pleased to find so much historically correct information. I suppose that it was the historical veracity that caused this book bring a tear to my eye now and then, knowing that the reality of those dire times was so close to the story the book presents. I have no doubt that Marie Antoinette arrived in France as a royal ingenue. I have no doubt that she did spend far too many gold Louis' on her wardrobe and her homes. That was, however, the life to which she had been born, the fetes and baubles were de rigueur for the time period, and she was so very young. I doubt that any one could have imagined the maelstrom that was about to descend upon France and the Royal Family. Marie's perceived extravagance became an easy scapegoat for the masses who were starving and had no right to expect anything better for their lives. Ms. Grey's portrait of Marie Antoinette is wonderfully complex. The Queen; both defiant and powerful and the mother and wife whose purpose was to protect and stand by her family. In this book she is portrayed as coming to love her royal husband late in their relationship, as the struggles of the French Revolution played out on the international stage. Loius comes across with passivity, and bewilderment but also as a King who finally understood the issues of his troubled Kingdom. He is noble and true to his honor and his word.

This book made me consider the two Revolutions - France's and America's - governments were overthrown for similar reasons, but one just seemed so much more blood thirsty, and so much more erratic. Liberté, égalité, and fraternité were altruistic and ambitious aims, but in France it seems that even the revolutionaries experienced a revolution within their own ranks as the power changed hands so often. With each change in the power struggle the fates of Marie Antoinette and her family hung in the balance. Mercy and exile seemed like an option for some time, until, in the end, all was lost.

At the end of the book there is an excellent section that provides short biographies of the characters as well as some facts about the times. An excellent bibliography is included as are 'questions for discussion' perhaps for a book club setting. i think that these were excellent additions.

In my opinion, this is a worthy rendering of the French Revolution and the family that was at the center of rebellion and hate. This book should have a wide appeal. Obviously, for those of us who love historical fiction, but it will also appeal to readers of very well written general fiction and also for those who are histoy buffs as well. There are also parts of this book that are history lessons, rendered in excellent, compelling prose.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
The Poor Queen 31 July 2013
By LCW - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Juliet Grey has delivered an evocative telling of the last years of Marie Antoinette. The novel is set against an elegantly detailed background that pulled me into the story. From the jewelry to the clothes, the architecture, to the moods and emotions of the crowds. Never gratuitous or over the top but let me feel as if I was reading a movie.

The tone was absolutely sympathetic yet Marie Antoinette is given depth and a complexity that was believable. At times defiant and indigent, lustful for her lover, loyal to her husband, and always with a heartbreaking love for her children, she was complex and multifaceted.

The novel was fast paced and never lagged or got dull. I could barely put this book down and it was one of those books I couldn't wait to get back to.

I usually avoid novels about tragic female figures like Anne Boleyn, Jane Grey, or Marie Antoinette. Women who were ultimately pawns in the hands of men and who paid the ultimate price. It just makes for a sad story to which I already know the ending. I'm glad I went out of my comfort zone for this novel and feel well rewarded for doing so.

The author included a tidbits and fact section at the end which I loved. I wish more authors would do this. I highly recommend this novel and give it an easy 4 1/2 stars.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
journey to that end is riveting and rich with imagery. 26 Sept. 2013
By Gaele - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
Releasing today, this conclusion to the Marie Antoinette trilogy has a well-known ending, but the journey to that end is riveting and rich with imagery. While essentially sympathetic to the oft-unsympathetic Queen, the story details a perspective that is often not shown in popular history: setting the characters and actions against the surroundings, described with lush phrasing that creates an easily visualized scene for readers.

This is my first encounter with both this author and series, although this book clearly is the later years of Marie Antoinette's life, I did not find difficulty with storyline, characters or following the story. While ostensibly this story is about the nobility and the horrors they faced in the revolution and upheaval, it also brilliantly details the deleterious affects the revolution had on the common people, as well as those in active support of the uprising. This provided a balance of perspective that, while not providing a clear line of who was right or wrong, did illuminate the situation from both sides, providing background information that helped better understand the motives and affects.

Of course, reading this story is much like seeing the movie Titanic, you know it won't end with a happily ever after, but the moments to the ending are moments to savor and appreciate, for the pure beauty of the writing, the characters that breathe forward from the story into your mind, and the descriptions that bring late 18th century France to life.

I received an ARC copy from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Confessions of Marie Antoinette 25 Sept. 2013
By P. Woodland - Published on
Format: Paperback
Le sigh. As I read this book I felt much as I did when I read the first book of this riveting trilogy - even though I knew exactly what was going to happen, I knew the twists, the turns, the tidbits that there were to know about Marie Antoinette, this book kept me turning the pages hoping against hope that history had somehow changed.

This third installment picks up as the citizens of France basically take their monarchs prisoner at Versailles and bring them to Paris. While the people of France revel in their supposed freedoms, the royals are kept rather like animals in a zoo. They are on display all the time and errant people at odd times just show up to chat or even climb into their rooms. As the political climate deteriorates an escape is planned but the whole affair is like a Keystone Cops movie rather than the flight of the King and Queen of France. Yet the story is true and ultimately very, very fatal. I'm not giving away any spoilers here - unless the reader is completely ignorant of the fates of Louis XVI and the woman the people of France never came to love.

I was not fortunate enough to read the book at the center of the trilogy, Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow which covered the high points of Marie Antoinette's reign in France. The books are sympathetic to her but they also show her for what she was; a somewhat self centered woman who was born to be a queen. A woman who was told from birth that she was better than everyone else and yet she became a woman capable of great love for a country that hated her and a King who didn't understand her.

I really wish I had been able to read this book at another time of year. At a time of year when I could have just sat down and read it from start to finish in one sitting. But I had the misfortune to have it during harvest season so I read it in heady bursts of immersion into the magical world created by Ms. Grey as she led me to Marie Antoinette's ultimate demise. I really didn't want the book to end and I really wanted her to succeed in getting away this time, but alas, like always they get caught and she loses everything. A very sad end for such a fascinating woman.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
An Outstanding, Well Researched Historical Novel ... 11 July 2014
By delicateflower152 - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The lush, descriptive language and the extensive research Juliet Grey employed in writing “Confessions of Marie Antoinette” elevate this fine historical novel above most current offerings of “historical” fiction. This novel is a true historical novel; it imagines, in an authentic manner, the actual events of and reactions within the period. It is not simply a romance, set within a significant period of history, in which the historic events take a secondary place to the characters’ romantic interests.

“Confessions of Marie Antoinette” provides a sympathetic perspective on Marie Antoinette and the French royal family. Narrated primarily in the first person, the book becomes Marie Antoinette’s personal testament of her last years and the French Revolution. The brief third person sections that focus on the sculptress, Louison Chabry, provide a balance to the story. Her ambivalent feelings with respect to the violence of the Revolution and with regard to the royal family probably reflect the emotions many individuals harbored, but were afraid to express.

However, Juliet Grey does not gloss over the arrogance of and unrealistic actions taken by French aristocrats and their supporters. For example, during an escape attempt the royals’ accomplice provides an enormous and luxurious berline – carriage – that is impossible to ignore. Even while imprisoned, Marie Antoinette wears fine clothing and satin shoes. While Louis XVI seems, at times, to appreciate the significant events and societal changes occurring, he naively attempts to appease the populace and the revolution’s leaders.

“Confessions of Marie Antoinette” is strongest in the portions dealing with Marie Antoinette’s love of her children and her realizing that she loves Louis XVI. The passages dealing with Louis XVI’s execution and Marie Antoinette’s final hours are packed with emotion and may, if you are an empathetic reader, evoke tears.

I will be recommending “Confessions of Marie Antoinette” to my friends. Anyone who enjoys a true historical novel, one that has been thoroughly researched and is intelligently written, should read this fine novel.
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