Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow-Juliet Grey

Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow

Juliet Grey

Ballantine, May 15 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780345523884

In 1774 when King Louis XV dies, his grandson becomes King Louis XVI. The new Majesty’s Austrian wife eighteen year old Marie Antoinette vows to be different from her late pious predecessor who was overshadowed by the royal mistresses like Madame du Barry. Over the next few years in Versailles, behind a façade of silk, Marie fears for her personal safety and the Bourbon dynasty as she senses trouble coming especially with what happened in American colonies. She is surrounded by those who want the foreigner off the throne even if she is the mother of the heir who becomes part of the gossip as many insist his father is Swedish military officer Axel von Fersen who Marie had an affair with that left her feeling guilty. Marie’s reputation is destroyed by the Affair of the Diamond Necklace in which she rejected the present that the former king commissioned for his last mistress, but a diabolical pair persuades Cardinal de Rohan that Her Majesty loves him. The people blame Marie Antoinette for the Affair as the common belief fostered by xenophobes in the court is that the Queen blamed the Cardinal for her avarice. The sharks emboldened by public opinion grow bolder.

The insightful and entertaining second Marie Antoinette biographical fiction (see Becoming Marie Antoinette) focuses on the royal years through the eyes of the Queen. Though the key support cast like the Cardinal, the con artist and her Swedish lover are not as fully fleshed out as one would want, this historical is a deep look at the Queen culminating with to stay or not to stay as the question.

Harriet Klausner

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