Friday, May 29, 2009

Let them eat cake!

Marie Antoinette is not the easiest historical character to love. Even Sofia Coppola didn't convince me that she is just prepubescent queen lifted from her motherland and forced into a relationship with a socially maladjusted husband, Louie XVI, who is caught between a war that his country had nothing to do with. No, I did not get that from Coppola's Marie Antoinette. Probably because Kirsten Dunst played Marie Antoinette, and I haven't really forgiven her for being miscast as Mary Jane in the Spider-Man franchise. Also, as much as Coppola's visuals are "OMG2DIE4", her story telling sucks. But this is not about Coppola and her imagery.

Try, The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette by Carolly Erickson.

Although some of the means Marie Antoinette had supposedly kept her journal were impossible (keeping small papers and hiding them in jars around the palace), the fictional memoirs followed history closely as it showed how Marie Antoinette became the scapegoat of the French Revolution (which I don't know much about so I am grasping for straws here).

For people who only know Marie Antoinette's infamous "Let them eat cake" statement, which she didn't even really say in the first place, The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette may help enlighten you with the rumors and speculations that surround the equally infamous queen without being too text book. Being a historian herself, Carolly Erickson successfully married the fiction and history to weave an intriguing and engaging tale about Marie Antoinette. The naive story telling, as the journal was supposedly started when she was 12 years old, was a bit unnerving as the tone was carried on till her later years. But I guess it is Erickson's way of presenting the Marie Antoinette as an innocent, child-like queen. All the more, the book painted a lighter, but not less tragic, picture of the Madame Deficit we thought we knew.

The book bordered a bit on sensationalism with intrigue, gossip, warfare, lesbianism, and economic downfall that can challenge our senate's inquiry of Haydengate, all thrown healthily into the realm of the French monarchy. But if you are wading your way into traffic, this book will surely save you from the mind-numbing boredom. It's a good book, sure it is, but it can be a bit insulting for those with the historical know-how. Not a problem for me though.

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