Becoming Marie Antoinette by Juliet Grey was an astounding beginning to a projected trilogy. Marie Antoinette, or Antonia to her Austrian family, was your typical carefree archduchess. However, Antonia’s mother saw a great future for her youngest daughter, for she planned to follow the family motto, “you fortunate Hapsburgs, marry!”, to the letter. A mutual alliance was plan to join Austria to France by marring Antonia to Lois XVI. This seem fairly straight forward since the kids were similar in age, but as time progresses the French found Antonia to be lacking in a few necessary qualities. Thus began the long and arduous transformation from Antonia to Marie Antoinette.
Once married in France, Marie Antoinette found that her new life was quite different, and the dauphin (heir to the throne) hard to understand. This did not discourage her, for she knew her mother was counting on her, so instead Marie Antoinette forged ahead trying to understand the difficult court intrigues and many players.
This was a fabulous historical fiction novel and I can’t wait to read the next two. In fact I would say this novel was by far the best I have read that tackles such an interesting and misunderstood queen. Grey weaves fun scandals into the history we all know. She also does a great job of showing the humorous and playful side of Marie Antoinette that at times was misunderstood. It was also refreshing to read about the noble deeds that Marie Antoinette carried out that are often forgotten due to the French revolution and her tragic death. As a historical fiction reader, I would highly recommend this novel.