Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Bad Queen

The Bad Queen 

Author: Carolyn Meyer

Publisher: Harcourt

Pages: 420

Read Time: Two days

Rating (1-5):4

Tag Words:Marie Antoinette, the Young Royals series, historical fiction challenge, 350+ pages book challenge, France, Diary, tragedy, Viva La Revolution! 

My Summary:

Everyone thinks they know the story of Marie-Antoinette, the Bad Queen, the woman who is thought to have said the words, “Let them eat cake!” 

Whether you believe she was a young girl with no control, or an evil Queen with thousands of livre burning holes in her hundreds of dresses, The Bad Queen will give you a glimpse into the world of one Maria-Antonia, forever remembered as Marie-Antoinette, Queen of France. 

My Review:

I love Carolyn Meyer; she has to be one of my favorite authors of all time and has penned some of my favorite books ever. She is a brilliant historian by way of fiction. She always makes me see a side of the coin I had never considered before. The Bad Queen is no exception. 

Bad Queen is a perfect example of Meyer’s flawless ability to lay down the events, trials and tribulations of the lives of misunderstood Royals and create an interesting, peep-hole look into what their lives might have really been. If ever I were to put my hand to historical fiction I could only pray to write a half-as-enthralling timeline.

The only thing I felt was missing where Antoinette’s final emotions. Did she regret any of her choices? Did she die angry with her people, or herself? What did she fear most? I say I wish to know all these things, but Meyer would have only been able to speak for her own character, not the Queen, herself. Perhaps it is best to let history speak for itself and leave the rest to imagination. 

Meyer will be continuing her growing Young Royals series this year with accounts of both Cleopatra and Mary, Queen of Scots. I know I can’t be alone in eagerly awaiting these titles and I am sending out a request right now for Meyer to try her hand at Helen of Troy’s misunderstood tale. I want to know how she would frame the face that launched a thousand ships, don’t you?

Notes on the Names: 

Royals are always a funny bunch when it comes to names. You would think that being Kings and Queens they would do exactly as they wanted, all others opinions be forgotten, but not so. Even Kate Middleton and Prince William will be expected to up-hold tradition and use family names for the Princes and Princesses to-be. 

Every one of Marie-Antoinette’s Austrian sisters first name was Maria. They all went by their middle names, of course, but the practice was not unheard of. In the French courts every male was given the moniker Louis, and usually hyphenated to another name. 

Now that you have had a little Royal-Name lesson I would like to list my favorite names from the Hapsburg and Bourbon family lines.

Maria-Josepha, called Josepha, was one of the Queen’s sisters who died of sickness at a young age. Her name means Jehovah increases and it is my favorite ‘Jo’ name. 

Maria-Carolina, called Carolina, was Antoinette’s beloved sister, closest in age she married young and was sent away from the Austrian court. I am, of course, quite biased about this name, but I love it enough to one day give it to my own daughter. Carolina means “Song of happiness,” but is often thought to be the same as Charlotte, or Charles, and meaning “Free woman.” 

Marie-Antoinette is the french name of Maria-Antonia and I think it is gorgeous. Many are afraid to use it because of this Queen, but I believe it is time to lift the stigma on this royal moniker! 

Antoinette chose the names Charlotte and Hélène as middle names for her two daughters. Charlotte is rising in popularity and Hélène, prn. Hay-lean, is the french name of rising-in-popularity song Helena, the very unique (so unique and under-the-radar I won’t list it) variant of which I have chosen for a future daughter. If you happen to guess it and spell it correctly I will give you brownie points. Charlotte will be a mn of my eldest for personal reasons.

Adélaïde is the french version of the German name, Adelaide. Yes, they are spelled the same, but the accent makes all the difference. Adélaïde is prn. Ad-dell-lie-eed and is my preferred pronunciation. I would love to use it, but I am afraid that she would be correcting people all her life. 

Thoughts on the Cover:

I think the attention to detail on this model is just fabulous. The hair bobbles, the elegant fan, the brocade of the gown ad the colors are just fabulous. It is a great representation of the Bad Queen. 

Parental Book Review *spoilers*

Sexual Content: 

In this day and age producing an heir was one of the great responsibilities of the King and Queen. Because Louis did not make Antoinette a true Dauphine for many years after their wedding ceremony the court gossip was rampant. 

There were many rumors that Antoinette was the lover of many men and women. 

Antoinette falls in love with the Count Axel von Fersen and their share many passionate kisses, but Antoinette will not make love with him because it would be a betrayal to her husband and country. 

Antoinette tells the story of her brothers first wife who was not in love with her husband and had an affair with her sister-in-law, Antoinette’s sister.


The people of France would call her L’Autrichrienne, putting extra emphasize on the ‘Chienne’ to imply the word for a female dog, or a bitch. 


Several mobs attacked the quarters of the Royal family; The Princess of Lamballe is beheaded and her head placed on a spike to taunt the Queen. Marie-Antoinette and King Louis are both beheaded, as is Tante Elisabeth. The executions are not described, Madame Royal learns of their deaths through the paper boy. 

Other Notables: 

I want to emphasize that this is historical fiction, and though I should give the facts and no opinion as far as PBR’s are concerned I feel I must say that Meyer writes these less-than-savory facts with great tact. I would let a ten year old read this, if she were so inclined, and would most esspecially allow anyone older the chance to learn of the true life and times of Marie-Antoinette.


Sniffly Kitty said...

I'm not entirely sure I would want to say Antoinette was misunderstood >.>

Sniffly Kitty
Sniffly Kitty's Mostly Books

ArtemisG said...

Great review! I love historical fiction books. I think Marie Antoinette was very interesting person and book sounds amazing.