Marie Antoinette: Princess of Versailles by Kathryn Lasky

(Cover picture courtesy of Fantastic Fiction.)

June 13, 1769

It has come at last—the marriage proposal!  King Louis XV’s personal envoys arrived this morning.  I was called immediately to Mama’s summer house, The Gloriette, where she works on the hottest days.  I did not know what I was being called for.  Indeed, I thought maybe Luisa had told Mama about our picnic and I was to be reprimanded for hill rolling!  But as soon as I set foot in the cool marble receiving room, Mama was out of her chair behind the desk and running toward me.  She crushed me to her bosom and whispered, “Antonia, you are to be married!  You are to be the Queen of France!”  Her cheeks were wet with tears and soon mine were, too!

When my mother told me people used to urinate on the floors of Versailles, I laughed at her and chaulked it up to either hyperbole or myth.  Sure, Europeans weren’t the cleanest bunch back then, but to relieve oneself indoors on those magnificent palace floors?  That’s crossing the line between truth and fiction, right?

Wrong.

For all of their protocol, manners and customs, the French nobility apparently acted like dogs who have not been properly house trained.  Enter Marie Antoinette, an Austrian princess who has been married off to Louis XVI, the Dauphin of France.  Can you see why she rebelled against their ridiculous customs?  I knew a little bit about the customs of the French court before reading this, but learning the extent of their stupidity was shocking.  You learn something new every day, I guess, especially when you read historical fiction like this.

Marie Antoinette: Princess of Versailles is written for ages 10-12 and focuses mainly on Marie Antoinette’s life before her marriage.  We get a little bit of her life after marriage, but most of the novel focuses on the time before she became Dauphine.  This is not exactly my favourite book in the Royal Diaries series because of its incredibly simplistic style (especially at the beginning), but young readers will love it.  They will be able to identify with Marie Antoinette, enjoy a well-written book and learn quite a bit of history without even realizing it.  What more can you ask for in historical fiction?

I give this book 3.5/5 stars.

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