Tuesday 30 November 2010

The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette by Carolly Erickson

Every now and then I need some brain candy.  Now is one of those times:  I have a stinking cold, I fell over in the snow/ice and hurt my knee and a recurrent health issue is well, recurring.  For all these reasons, I wanted some pure, escapist, historical fiction fluff.  I chose The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette as I've already read Antonia Fraser's excellent biography of her, so I knew it wouldn't tax me too much.

Synopsis: Infamous French Queen Marie Antoinette keeps a secret diary from her teenage years, through to her marriage and ending during the French Revolution.

Score: 3 out of 5

First off, I should say that this book was exactly what I was looking for.  It was light, easy to read and very enjoyable.  It completely took me away to another world and part of that was due to the writing skills of the author.  I was also impressed with the way that Marie Antoinette's diary entries matured throughout the book - she felt very young at the beginning and then wiser towards the end.

That's not to say that the book was without its faults.  I personally do not expect historical fiction to stick to the facts, but this book played fast and loose with history.  A whole host of secondary characters were introduced that simply did not exist, and furthermore they drove some of the plot.  I don't mind some made up background, but made up key characters is slightly annoying.

The basic premise was also a little hard to believe at time.  Erickson kept reminding us through Antoinette's entries that keeping a diary was dangerous but I simply didn't believe that it was possible, especially when she was in prison.  And even though it was a secret, her maid 'conveniently' managed to add a passage about her execution.

All that said, I did enjoy this book.  It was fun, hard to put down and pure escapsim - sometimes that is exactly what is needed!


  1. I LOVE books like these! Pure escapism is the best way to spend a cold, rainy night!

  2. @The Lady with the Kitty

    Me too! Long rainy Sundays are perfect for these kinds of books :)

  3. It's interesting to get another view of historical characters. I saw a biography of her on PBS that made me really see her in a different light...
    Sounds like an interesting book.

  4. @Leslie
    Hi Leslie,

    I agree, Marie Antoinette is very interesting. I would recommend Antonia Fraser's biography of her if you're interested, it's non-fiction but very well written and engaging.

  5. Fact or Fiction or half and half, who cares, it was an excellent read. I didn't want to put the book down from the moment I started it. Very amazing story and it was enjoyable. The historic details are interesting and the whole book is very insightful of the way Marie Antoinette lived. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in her, and the life she lead.

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