3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
What star should I give?,
This review is from: Marie Antoinette (Paperback)
I have ended up giving it a 3. With this type of book, how you rate it depends on what your perspective is. Are you an established historian? Are you a current student of history? Are you a general reader who likes to read a book for enjoyment? Are you a reader who does not want just the latest most popular read, but who likes to combine the pleasure of reading with some factual enlightenment?
This question is pertinent to me as the book was a chosen title in the book group. I personally would not now choose this book for such a purpose. Many people have given it a 5 star and clearly their perspectives are different.
Antonia Fraser is a well-known historian and her books are popular. However, compared to other historical books read recently such as Wolf Hall, were better read in that the narration generally gripped you. While the story of The French Revolution and the part played by key characters is very interesting, you will only really enjoy Marie Antoinette if you were a devout historian. Antonia Fraser seems to have done her research thoroughly but as you read you get the feeling that the author wants to make sure every little bit of information she has researched, with the sources, should be written down. This makes the book a very long one, and the mind gets tired of trying to place all the bits of information in the context, and maybe losing the main plot.
So, from the point of view of a keen reader, who does like history, this has put me off reading other books by Antonia Fraser. Rather than struggling through may be 8oo pages of such historical detail I would much rather read more of Hilary Mantel if I am to maintain an interest in historical works or go for something historical but much more readable, like Tracy Chevalier's Burning Bright which is interesting, historically enlightening, and I hope by the time I have finished it, a deep story.