Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Bad Queen by Carolyn Meyers

Grade: High A


Marie-Antoinette is given endless instructions before she leaves Austria at the age of fourteen to marry the dauphin of France. In her new home at the grand palace of Versailles, her every move is scrutinized by the cruel and gossipy members of the French court. Marie-Antoinette tries to adhere to their stifling rules of etiquette, but sometimes, this fun-loving young woman can't help but indulge herself with scandalous fashions, taboo recreations, elaborate parties--even a forbidden romance.

Most damaging to her reputation is that after years of marriage, Marie-Antoinette has not fulfilled the most important requirement: to produce an heir to the throne. Sadness and frustration lead the young queen to become even more recklessly extravagant in her ways, much to the outrage of the poor and suffering common people of France.

When angry revolutionaries arrive at Versailles to take her and the king the Paris, Marie-Antoinette has no idea what horrors are in store. The luxurious life she led, and the monarchy she spent her entire life serving, are about to come crashing down. Though she would be remembered by the revolutionaries as an obscene spendthrift, perhaps Marie-Antoinette had more in common with them than they thought--for she too was a rebel who lived by her own rules.


Character Development: 6/10
Originality: 7/10
Overall Enjoyment: 8/10
Ending: 8/10
Voice: 8/10
Plot: 10/10
Setting: 10/10
Total Score: 57/70

Obtained: Library. :)

Age Appropriate? R

Cursing: Some, but limited. And you must remember the time period.
Drugs, Alcohol, etc: Some drinking and drunkenness.
Sexual Content: It is a major theme of the book, but is tread around lightly considering the age.
Disturbing Images/Content: Much much MUCH violence (come on, it's Marie Antoinette, the French Revolution) and disturbing images of disembowling and beheading (ich!).


I don't usually enjoy Carolyn Meyer's Young Royals books. I find them dry and uninteresting with no real life. This one, however, was wonderfully different from its sisters. The writing was vivid and captivating, and the setting was just so colorful! Everyone's heard the story of Marie Antoinette, but I've never thought much beyond what the movie version could tell me. This version humanized her, showed the reader what her motives were, what the circumstances were, and how, really, she did not deserve her death.

My only complaint with this book is that the queen herself, though the narrator of the story, was rather inconsistent as a character. On one hand, she was very dimensional in her narration, but her personality there did not add up with her personality in action. We watch her grow up from an uncomfortable young Austrian princess and become this mighty young queen, yet her selfishness and her thoughtlessness do not grow up with her--they appear out of nowhere about halfway through the book. I felt like even though she intimated her thoughts in the narration, we as readers never got to truly know this woman or her heart.

However, I felt that Meyers took a unique approach to this tale. She did not immediately condemn Antoinette, nor did she glorify her. Her sole goal was to portray the queen in her natural habitat, as she (probably) really was, and leave judging her character up to the reader. 


Carolyn Meyers

Marie Antoinette

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