Becoming Marie Antoinette

Written by Juliet Grey
Review by Troy Reed

Becoming Marie Antoinette, the first in a planned trilogy about the life of the Archduchess of Austria and Queen of France, is a fantastic read. The novel begins at the court of Schönbrunn in 1766, when Marie is just a carefree girl. At the age of ten, she is promised in marriage to Louis Auguste, the future king of France. She knows that her fun-loving days are coming to a rapid end. Her mother, the imposing Empress Maria Theresa, is counting on her to make a solid alliance between France and Austria.

In preparation for her marriage, it becomes apparent that Marie has been indulged too much and must buckle down with her studies. Every hour of her day is accounted for and is spent perfecting herself – learning the Versailles glide, styling her hair and clothes in the latest French trend, and even enduring braces to straighten her teeth.

Marie is placed under an enormous amount of pressure, but she is determined to fulfill her duty and be loved by her new family and countrymen. After arriving in France, she finds it almost impossible to make a connection with her husband, the Dauphin. She dedicates herself to breaking through his shell and becoming his friend. Their relationship has its ups and downs, eventually blossoming into friendship, then finally love.

The novel is wonderfully different from others I have read about Marie Antoinette as it focuses on her young life in Austria, a part of her life that is usually overlooked. Grey’s novel has a little bit of everything: the glitz and glamour of the French court, young love, and international politics. The most enjoyable aspect of the book is seeing Marie find her own way and becoming her own person. I can’t wait for the next in the trilogy.