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The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette by Carolly Erickson: A Book Review

The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette

Author: Carolly Erickson

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Griffin

Release Date: 2006

Pages: 368

Source: My personal collection

Synopsis: Imagine that, on the night before she is to die under the blade of the guillotine, Marie Antoinette leaves behind in her prison cell a diary telling the story of her life―from her privileged childhood as Austrian Archduchess to her years as glamorous mistress of Versailles to the heartbreak of imprisonment and humiliation during the French Revolution.

     Carolly Erickson takes the reader deep into the psyche of France's doomed queen: her love affair with handsome Swedish diplomat Count Axel Fersen, who risked his life to save her; her fears on the terrifying night the Parisian mob broke into her palace bedroom intent on murdering her and her family; her harrowing attempted flight from France in disguise; her recapture and the grim months of harsh captivity; her agony when her beloved husband was guillotined and her young son was torn from her arms, never to be seen again.

     Erickson brilliantly captures the queen's voice, her hopes, her dreads, and her suffering. We follow, mesmerized, as she reveals every detail of her remarkable, eventful life―from her teenage years when she began keeping a diary to her final days when she awaited her own bloody appointment with the guillotine.

     My Review: The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette tells the story of Marie’s childhood to her final days. Maria Antonia was the youngest daughter of Empress Maria Teresa of Austria. She had a carefree childhood. In her early adolescence, she was thrust into an arranged marriage with the dauphine of France. Marie Antoinette had to leave her childhood behind and become the Dauphine of France. From the moment she stepped foot on French soil, Marie Antoinette was unfit for the role of Dauphine and later Queen of France. 

I had a hard time liking Marie Antoinette. She was very lazy, shallow, and vain. She spent lavish money on dresses, gambling, and built a fanciful village. She loved to have friends and formed a circle of friends who share the same tastes as her. She also has no love for her husband. Instead, she gives her heart to other men. Therefore, I did not feel any compassion for her. I was hoping that she would grow up and have compassion for her people. However, she does not. She remains the same, and she never learns her lesson.

Overall, this novel is about family, duty, and sacrifice. I didn’t care for the other characters in The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette. Louis XVI was the most interesting character, but not a lot of attention was focused on him. I found Marie Antoinette’s first love and his wife to be annoying and distracting from the novel. Even though it is a short novel, it was a slog. It took me a month to get through it. There were some parts that I did like about this novel. I like how the author portrayed Versailles. I also like her description of the French Revolution. There were a few inaccuracies, but was mostly faithful to the known history of Marie Antoinette. I recommend this for fans of The Secret Diary of a Princess, Abundance, and Becoming Marie Antoinette!

Rating: 2 ½ out of 5 stars


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