Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Bad Queen by Carolyn Meyer [Review]

Title: The Bad Queen
Series: Young Royals, #6
Author: Carolyn Meyer
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release: April 12, 2010
Publisher: Harcourt Children’s Books
ISBN: 0152063765
ISBN13: 9780152063764
Reviewer: A Chick Who Reads

4 out of 5 Robots!

My Review: 
The Bad Queen is the most recent book in Carolyn Meyer’s Young Royals series. It tells the story of Marie Antoinette, one of the most hated and misunderstood queens in all of history. She’s painted as what most of us would call a party girl. She loves lavish entertainments and fancy gowns. The more elaborate the better. She can pretty much be credited with creating big hair. One of her updos stood more than a foot above her head!

It was interesting that Ms Meyer chose to tell Marie’s story in the first person, in a sort of journal format, for most of the story. It changes about ¾ of the way through to Marie-Therese’s point of view, the first born daughter of Louis and Marie Antoinette.  The transition is a little abrupt, but it does make sense. Marie still comes across as flighty, and it would be hard to expect her to be able to write about her last days.

Even though Meyer tries to paint Marie in a more favorable light, she still comes across as flighty and not all that intelligent. In her younger days, when she was still in Austria, she laments having to read or do any form of studying. As Queen of France she hasn’t a care for anyone but herself, buying gowns and renovating any palace she can, and even having a village built for her!

Her mother and many people give her rules she should follow to be a good queen, and she seems determined to break each and every one. It really isn’t hard to believe that the people of France hated her.

The character that you really sympathize with is her husband Louis XVI. He comes across as a king that isn’t quite ready to rule, and he probably wasn’t.  Louis was in his early twenties when he took the throne.  He really expects the people to love him, and for the most part they seem too.  It makes it hard to grasp why he was suddenly so hated. Meyer doesn’t really go into details about the reasons for The Revolution, but then again, this book is about Marie and not her husband.

Carolyn touches on some of the scandals that were associated with the Queen. I think it was probably difficult for her to really go deep into some of them. Marie Antoinette was accused of many things, from outrageous spending to affairs and orgies. As this is a novel written for young adults, much of the accusations were just touched on.

The one thing this book really shows is how much Marie loved her children and how she wanted children. It almost seems out of character for her. Yet you really feel her pain when the dauphin Louis Joseph dies at age seven and then her daughter Princess Sophie. She was also fiercely loyal to her husband, even though she was “in love” with a Swedish officer,  Hans Axel Von Fersen, whom she met when she was still dauphine.

There’s a lot to be learned about Marie Antoinette in The Bad Queen. It probably isn’t the best book for people looking for a more serious account of her life, but if you are looking to touch just a little bit on the character of this Queen, The Bad Queen is a pretty good place to start.

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