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The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette

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The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette

Post  Bunnies on Sun Jan 27, 2013 1:52 pm

This book, written by Carolly Erickson, has been recommended to me.

And when I say "recommended" to me, I mean that it briefly mended the rift between individuals of Jacobin and Royalist sympathy. These political ideologies have been quarreling over the principles of government and the the definition of tyranny for some two-hundred years but they put aside their differences to tell me to steer clear of this novel. The former expressed concerned for my health should I skim its unholy pages. The specific concerns of the royalists I have yet to record, but I have been assured that they will elaborate when they have finished shrieking.

So of course I want to read it. That's the sort of high-brow antics I'm looking for.

Gee, what else did they think would happen? In any case, between her hysterical sobs Anna Amber managed to link me to this review she had written:

Let me just say, if you enjoyed this book and are the type to avoid negative reviews of something you love: This is a negative review. I did not enjoy this book, though as always, this is only my opinion.

The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette by Carolly Erickson is, as the title suggests, the fictional “hidden diary” of Marie Antoinette, from her last months in Austria to her final day. Erickson has written several historical biographies, and a few other novels in the same vein as this - most of those have 2 stars or less on Amazon.com, but since this one had quite a few positive reviews, I decided to give it a try.

It was reading the words of a 14 year old Marie Antoinette wishing that she could have sex with Eric, a 19 year old stable boy, instead of Louis-Auguste that first made me shut this book. It was the first of many “What the—” moments for me. It was only because of a power outage and no other books on hand that I was able to finish this book, having literally nothing else to do.

The writing itself is fairly generic, even into her adult years. There are a few bits and pieces here and there of entries that I enjoyed, but that’s not saying much. There are also many inconsistencies in this novel. There are several times when her diary is discovered, and its contents revealed to the court, but even this is not consistent - a few entries after one such discovery, she says how horrible it would be if anyone were to read her diary!

Almost all of the characters in this book came through one-dimensional and frankly, annoying. Louis XVI is written for the most part with surprising sensitivity though Erickson tarnishes this by constantly having Marie Antoinette think (and even say!) that he is ugly, a pig, useless, weak, foolish, and his last words are unfortunately telling Marie Antoinette she is free to marry Axel Fersen, her true love. Marie Antoinette comes across as shallow, whiny, and entirely unsympathetic. Axel Fersen said “My darling little angel” to her so many times that I considered going back through the pages and taking a count.

Erickson creates a few of her own fictional characters for this story, in addition to the historical figures already present. The fictional, Austrian maid Sophie has no personality. Neither does Eric, the fictional dashing groomsmen from Austria. The dastardly villain she makes of Robespierre is thankfully reduced to one entry - if only the same could be said for Amalie, the villainous maid, who is written laughably and inserted throughout the novel. Amalie is somehow able to appear at almost all intense moments in this fictional Marie Antoinette’s life, at each step acting the part of a sanscullote Mean Girl.

The book is full of inaccuracies - so many that it’s impossible to list. With any historical fiction, there are going to be inaccuracies and licenses taken with history. This is not new or even really a bad thing. Some of my favorite fictional works about Marie Antoinette are pretty inaccurate when it comes down to details - the 1938 film, for example. The author herself states in her notes that it’s not meant to be accurate, that it’s “fiction,” and that she wanted the reader to take away from the novel a character of Marie Antoinette. However, I couldn’t disagree more with how far she took this. If someone is going to write about real people and events, they should take the responsibility of portraying these events to the best of their ability within the realm of fiction. Why else would you bother to write about a specific person? Erickson appears to have tossed up her hands and said, “It’s fiction, it doesn’t matter what I write!”

She does not stick to anything resembling what’s known of people’s personalities, events, or life at Versailles. She does not mention major points in Marie Antoinette’s life, such as the ceremony turning her over from Austria to France, the influence of her aunts, the Affair of the Diamond Necklace, etc. Instead, Erickson creates fictional drama and adventures that are so far out there, they may as well have been written by someone with no knowledge on the subject, rather than someone who claims to be a historian. Marie Antoinette is able to retain several servants from Austria, sleep and dress herself without ceremony, skip off alone with servants for walks in the gardens and passionate kisses, and travels to Sweden with Axel Fersen!

Reading the book was not an enjoyable experience for me. I welcomed the Conciergerie Prison, and rolled my eyes at the final entry: A note written by the (illiterate in real life) maid Rosalie tucked into the diary.

Perhaps if you are able to toss aside all historical accuracy, or don’t know too much about it, you may enjoy this book. I don’t know - it’s not even little things that I noticed, it’s huge, constant inaccuracies. I personally don’t recommend it at all - check out The Royal Diaries instead. Heck, try out The Bad Queen - my appreciation for that novel shot up after reading this one.

source: http://vivelareine.tumblr.com/post/989842144

Now again, I haven't read the book myself, although I plan on devouring it today. But it is possible that the warnings I've heard are fruitless. What is the consensus here?

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Re: The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette

Post  Bunnies on Mon Jan 28, 2013 11:52 pm

So far:

Marie Antoinette is the cheerleader who used to put thumb taks in my gym shoes

Madame Du Barry is Alice Perrers

Prince Stanislas Xavier is a pedophile


Robespierre is a Spider Man Villain

It truly is as terrible as they say.

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Re: The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette

Post  Elena on Fri Feb 01, 2013 3:28 pm

It uses Marie-Antoinette's name but really has nothing to do her. No

Je pardonne à tous mes ennemis le mal qu’ils m’ont fait.

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