The Royal Diaries: Marie Antoinette, Princess of Versailles
What You Need to Know:|
• In diary format, Marie Antoinette describes her life before her marriage to Louis XVI and what it was like for her
to leave her home in Austria and move to the Court in France.
• The bride and groom are only 14 and 15 at the time of their wedding.
• Some words and concepts are consistent with the time period (1769-1771) in which the story takes place.
• Marie Antoinette must determine how to deal with the King’s mistress.
• As was common during the era, two characters close to Marie Antoinette die of sudden illnesses.
• Many other important historical figures, like Cleopatra and Elizabeth, are showcased in other Royal Diaries books.
• Although the story is fiction, it is based on fact and most of the characters were real people.
• The family tree/pictures in the back of the book are helpful in keeping track of the many people and relationships.
While this is definitely a thoughtful account of two years in Marie Antoinette’s life, it is also a story about growing up and family relationships. Antonia, as she is known before her wedding, lives in Austria where her mother, the Empress, is grooming her to become the next Queen of France. She spends much of her day working with various tutors to prepare for this role. Her siblings have also been trained to marry into the right family, in order to maintain and expand the Empire. Despite the fact that Antonia is an 18th century royal, many of her problems are consistent with issues that girls still face today.
She gets bored and worries about clothing, style, hair and jewelry. She clashes with her mom and fights to achieve some independence and a sense of identity. Occasionally, she’s even embarrassed by her mom. As she grows and changes over a two-year period, she comes to understand and respect her mother, and she learns to take on the role of Queen. She also develops a close bond with her new husband, the future King, and he admits that he has learned from her, as well. As he says to her, “You helped me see the Court as it really is. I saw how sweet and direct you are, how pleasant your manners are. I saw your true desire to know a person and that through this knowing, you honor that person.” Good advice for any relationship! In addition to getting to know Marie Antoinette, readers will learn about the inner workings of Austrian and French Court life and how different they were from each other.
2000, 238 pages
Good Book Club Selection, Growing Up, History, Identity, Self-Awareness/Discovery
• What would you do if you were forced into an arranged marriage?
• How would you describe the relationship between Antonia and her mother?
• What would you like or dislike about Court life?
• How does Antonia change from her time at Schonbrunn to when she is a married woman?
• What qualities would you look for in a husband?
• Were Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI good rulers?
• What are some rules of etiquette that you follow today?
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