Introducing ...BECOMING MARIE ANTOINETTE
I suppose I should introduce myself as well, as this is my maiden blog post for the History Hoydens ... I am the author of a historical fiction trilogy on the life of Marie Antoinette, to be published in trade paperback by Ballantine, beginning with the August 9 release of the first of the three novels, BECOMING MARIE ANTOINETTE.
(It will also be available on Kindle, Nook, Ipad, and even your iPhone!); and I had the wonderful experience of recording the unabridged audiobook version of the novel last month, flying out to Woodland Hills, CA, the home of Random House Audio, to do so. Although the events of the narrative are all based on heavily researched factual information, I knew my book was also character-driven and dialogue-heavy in some places -- but it really hit home when I began to record scenes involving multiple characters, both male and female, some of differing nationalities and realized I needed to voice them all and differentiate each one with cadences, intonations, and personalties (and occasionally accents) commensurate with the text. It wasn't just reading a book into a microphone; it became a week-long performance.
The palace of Schönbrunn on the outskirts of Vienna, Maria Antonia’s childhood home during the summer months
BECOMING MARIE ANTOINETTE opens on the day when Archduchess Maria Antonia, the youngest daughter of the formidable Hapsburg Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, learns that she is to be betrothed to Louis-Auguste, grandson of Louis XV and the dauphin of France, or heir to the French throne.
Louis, at the age of 20, by then Louis XVI
The narrative ends on the day of Louis XV's death, May 10, 1774.
From the Amazon product description:
This enthralling confection of a novel, the first in a new trilogy, follows the transformation of a coddled Austrian archduchess into the reckless, powerful, beautiful queen Marie Antoinette.
Why must it be me? I wondered. When I am so clearly inadequate to my destiny?
Raised alongside her numerous brothers and sisters by the formidable empress of Austria, ten-year-old Maria Antonia knew that her idyllic existence would one day be sacrificed to her mother’s political ambitions. What she never anticipated was that the day in question would come so soon.Before she can journey from sunlit picnics with her sisters in Vienna to the glitter, glamour, and gossip of Versailles, Antonia must change everything about herself in order to be accepted as dauphine of France and the wife of the awkward teenage boy who will one day be Louis XVI. Yet nothing can prepare her for the ingenuity and influence it will take to become queen.Filled with smart history, treacherous rivalries, lavish clothes, and sparkling jewels, Becoming Marie Antoinette will utterly captivate fiction and history lovers alike.
I was so surprised to discover, as I read myriad biographies of Marie Antoinette, how little of her childhood is discussed. I will not enumerate any spoilers here, but suffice it to say that young Maria Antonia was no stranger to loss as a little girl. Not only that, at the instigation of her mother and at the prompting of Louis Quinze, who was not prepared to accept her as the future dauphine of France until she was deemed fully baked in every way (the first thing he inquired about her when the marriage was first proposed -- and Antoinia was only ten -- was whether she had good breasts!), the preadolescent archduchess was subjected to a full makeover of both mind and body. This included a radical change to her hairline to make her forehead appear less prominent and several months of orthodontia in a device known as Fauchard's Bandeaux.
As I researched the novel I became determined to find out the identities of everyone involved in Maria Antonia's transformation; you will meet all of them in the novel.
Her diction and elocution were improved by a pair of native French speakers; she was taught all the court dances performed at Versailles, as well as the unique step known as the Versailles Glide that all of the court ladies had perfected to make it appear as though they floated through the opulent halls and corridors. Moreover, for a girl who had never mastered the rudiments of either her native German tongue, nor her future French one, she was rigorously tutored in grammar and penmanship, French history, geography, and royal genealogy.
Although the archduchess Maria Antonia was quite the little hoyden as a child, and did not mend her ways for several years, even as dauphine of France, she did not go from heedless to headless, as many historians would have us believe. She was a passionate, and compassionate young lady who wore her large heart on her sleeve and who was taught the blessings of charity at an early age. Unfortunately, she was wed to a total stranger at the age of fourteen and entered the Bourbon court as an enemy, because Austria and France had been adversaries for nearly 950 years previously; and there were still many at Versailles who spoke against this Franco-Austrian alliance, even after the marriage vows were taken on May 16, 1770.
Marie Antoinette's life was one long series of hurdles. Often she stumbled and fell, but more often than not she picked herself up, dusted herself off and glided ahead ... until the next hurdle hove into view. She detested convention and etiquette and in a court hidebound by the protocol devised by the Sun King, Louis XIV, this was anathema, so she soon made many more enemies. One of her fatal mistakes was that she didn't take them seriously.
What's your opinion of Marie Antoinette, and what has formed it? Biographies? Films? Something else?