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on 4 February 2009
This book could have been superb. Carolly Erickson knows her stuff not only on Marie Antoinette, but on the whole historical period in general. This is quite evident but not fully taken advantage of. Erickson perhaps had a good plan and layout of her story, keeping to certain accuracies and adding in fiction where appropriate. Unfortunately, Erickson's problem is at the very core of novel writing.

Erickson basically seems unable to write a novel. She writes in the form of a diary - such a form is restrictive in the first place and Erickson may have felt that writing in Marie Antoinette's voice instead of her own could give her a justified excuse to write in a bland, amatuerish way throughout the whole novel (as if Marie Antoinette was unintelligent!) It doesn't work. I wouldn't believe in a million years that the French queen would have written in her diary in such a mind-numbing, boring way. Surely she had more command of language than Erickson makes out. I could not believe how childish it all was. This fictional diary starts when she is twelve years of age, right until her death, but the difference in voice between that time is minimal.

Historical fiction has a hard time of it, as many people interested in history want to read them, only to find that the fiction is not historically accurate, or things have been drastically changed. Some people accept this for what it is, but one of the main reasons why I forgive writers like Phillipa Gregory for her soap opera drama like novels is because she describes the times so well. You can dive into the world of yesterday and read what the world could have been like mentally and physically. This is another drawback of this novel. It's a diary. Why would Marie-Antoinette feel the need to explain customs, fashion, nature, science, etc.? She wouldn't, and doesn't.

Basically, this novel is a skimming observation of what her life could have been like. No detail, no deep characterisations. You learn of three or four of her friends, and though she mentions them often (helped her do her hair, etc.) they have no personalities or interests whatsoever. I mean this literally - she really does not explain who her friends are, what her relationship is like with them, how much time they spend together, what they talk about, and so on. Why not have the reader be as attached to these women as she was? Wouldn't that make the reader more empathetic?

It's not all doom and gloom though. This novel may be a good introduction to anyone who is interested in Marie-Antoinette; it's accessible and addictive to read (mostly thanks to the diary form as the text is consistently put into addictive chunks). The depiction of immediate revolution surrounding her sphere is quite vivid and horrifying and although we care not an ounce for any of the characters, we can still take away the horrifying things that happened to them, even if it is only for the actual horrific events in themselves. Marie-Antoinette is an interesting figure in any form, so anything about her will be exciting to read. It's just Erickson's novel may do the least justice on her character and her life. You should look elsewhere.
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VINE VOICEon 15 March 2007
This book comes with a disclaimer by the author in tha this is a work of fiction, with that in mind this book is a wonderful work of fiction. As far as historical fiction goes the era of Marie Antoinette is not my strong point, there is very little I previously knew of her life which may have made this a better read for me, maybe.

Whilst it is a work of fiction there are obviously some facts here that are true, and with that in mind I read this book primarily to find out much more of Marie Antoinette, it has certainly whetted my appetite to read more about her.

Its a very easy to read book, some may say amateur-ish but, in my opinion I found it engrossing and read it at every moment I had, I really enjoyed it and this is the first book of Carolly Erickson's I have read, it certainly won't be the last.
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VINE VOICEon 10 January 2007
The Hidden Diary of Marie Antionette comes with a disclaimer at the back. Whilst the same author has written a biography of Marie Antionette, this is strictly a novel and contains characters and events that have been created for dramatic effect.

The result is a fast paced and very enjoyable historical novel (too bad you know how it will end!!) It brings the personality of the Queen to life and explores her loves, her relationships with her servants and the King and the realities of the time very much to life.

Take with a large pinch of salt and enjoy!
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on 10 January 2014
I love Marie Antoinette, and this book really brought her to life. What an amazing and remarkable woman.. Great read
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on 10 August 2013
Written about the queen's journey from a teenager to her last days as queen in her own imagined diary. Entertaining and gory in parts. You sympathise with her in parts and begin to understand the choices she made.
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on 24 September 2015
Enjoyed the book, made marie antoinette seem more realistic
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