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Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow: A Novel of Marie Antoinette by Juliet Grey: A Book Review

Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow: A Novel of Marie Antoinette
Author: Juliet Grey
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: 2012
Pages: 448
Source: Personal Collection
Synopsis: A captivating novel of rich spectacle and royal scandal, Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow spans fifteen years in the fateful reign of Marie Antoinette, France’s most legendary and notorious queen.

     Paris 1774. At the tender age of eighteen, Marie Antoinette ascends to the French throne alongside her husband, Louis XVI. But behind the extravagance of the young queen’s elaborate silk gowns and dizzyingly high coiffures, she harbors deep fears for her future and that of the Bourbon dynasty.

     From her early growing pains of marriage to the joy of conceiving a child, from her passion for Swedish military attache Axel von Fersen to the devastating Affair of the Diamond Necklace, Marie Antoinette tries to rise above the gossip and rivalries that encircle her. But as revolution blossoms in America, a much larger threat looms beyond the gilded gates of Versailles-- one that could sweep away the French monarchy forever.
      My Review: This is the second book in Juliet Grey’s trilogy of Marie Antoinette. In this novel, Marie Antoinette has at last become Queen of France. She decides to live a lavish lifestyle of gambling, dancing, and hosting parties, donning elaborate dresses and having extravagant and sometimes silly hairstyles. However in the midst of the glitz and glamour of being queen, she arouses disapproval and hatred of her French subjects.

     In the beginning of the novel, the Parisian crowd greatly welcomes King Louis XVI’s reign with open arms. The king is young and kind-hearted and he has a beautiful, charming, young wife at his side. He seems to have a promising reign unlike his predecessor, Louis XV, whose reign caused hatred among his subjects. However, the king lacks one thing that would help secure France’s promising future-- an heir. When year after year goes by without an heir, they start to place their blame on the queen. They blame her for having an extravagant lifestyle for she is dancing and acting when she should be focusing on having a heir. This starts to damage her reputation and causes her to be hated and constantly mocked and criticized by her subjects.

     Marie Antoinette’s high-rolling lifestyle is the result of her unhappiness to not get a dauphin. She is pressured by both her mother and her brother to get an heir, and she feels like she has failed her mother, her brother, and her subjects. She decides to spend excessively to help ease her stress and disappointment. However, when she does get an heir many years later, her reputation has already been tarnished and once she becomes the scapegoat in the infamous Affair of the Diamond Necklace, she has already lost the love of her subjects, and there is nothing she could do to help recover her subjects’ love.

     Overall, this novel is about friendship, loyalty, love, betrayal, and scandal. This novel shows an in-depth psyche of Marie Antoinette and the motives to her actions. Marie Antoinette is a complex woman, who is human and makes mistakes. She can sometimes be rash when she is emotional. This is a sympathetic novel to Marie Antoinette and is a good sequel to Becoming Marie Antoinette. I will recommend this book to fans of historical fiction and anyone interested in Marie Antoinette.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


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