Confessions of Marie Antoinette

Written by Juliet Grey
Review by Hanne Pearce

Confessions of Marie Antoinette is the third and final installment in Juliet Grey’s detailed account of Marie Antoinette’s life. The novel starts as the French Revolution is beginning in earnest, with the march onto the Royal Palace in Versailles, and then follows the royal family into captivity and to trial. The deposed queen is forced to endure humiliation and separation from her family. Surrounded by enemies, she clings to the hope that her family will be spared.

The story of Marie Antoinette is undeniably popular, and this particular period of French history has been thoroughly dissected by researchers and writers. It is a tale that requires little embellishment, as the mere historical facts contain elements sufficient for a gripping drama. In her time, France’s last queen was reviled and mocked for her opulent lifestyle, but Grey has follows the recent trend to paint Marie Antoinette in a favorable light.

It is refreshing to begin the story at the start of the Revolution, for so many other accounts focus on the early years of affluence and luxury and quickly gloss over this dark and crude time in history. Grey has tackled it well, weaving elements of hope and light into what would have been a very bleak part of Marie Antoinette’s life.

The research done for the book is exceptional; so good, in fact, that at times one has to think about whether they are reading historical fiction or a biography. Through this novel, one realizes how long the French Revolution felt for those who lived through it. In modern times, revolutions seem to happen in a matter of weeks, while the French royal family lived through this revolution for years, passing the days in hopes that they might escape. This novel is highly recommended for anyone approaching this period for the first time, for its overall historical accuracy and its artfulness.