Abundance, A Novel of Marie Antoinette

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Harper Collins, Oct 3, 2006 - Fiction - 545 pages
45 Reviews

"Like everyone, I am born naked."

With this opening line of Naslund's compelling new novel, a very human Marie Antoinette invites readers to live her story as she herself experiences it. From the lush gardens of Versailles to the lights and gaiety of Paris, the verdant countryside of France, and finally the stark and terrifying isolation of a prison cell, the young queen's life is joyful, poignant, and harrowing by turns. As her world of unprecedented royal splendor crumbles, the charming Marie Antoinette matures into a heroine of inspiring stature, one whose nobility arises not from the circumstance of her birth but from her courageous spirit.

Marie Antoinette was a child of fourteen when her mother, the Empress of Austria, arranged for her to leave her family and her country to become the wife of the fifteen-year-old Dauphin, the future King of France. Coming of age in the most public of arenas, the young queen embraces her new family and the French people, and she is embraced in return. Eager to be a good wife and strong queen, she shows her new husband nothing but love and encouragement, though he repeatedly fails to consummate their marriage and in doing so, fails to give her the thing she—and the people of France—desire most: a child and an heir to the throne.

Deeply disappointed and isolated in her own intimate circle apart from the social life of the court, the queen allows herself to remain ignorant of the country's growing economic and political crises. She entrusts her soul to her women friends, her music teacher, her hairdresser, the ambassador from Austria, and a certain Swedish count so handsome that admirers label him "the Picture." When her innocent and well-chaperoned pilgrimage to watch the sun rise is viciously misrepresented in satiric pamphlets as a drunken orgy, the people begin to turn against her. Poor harvests, bitter winters, war debts, and poverty precipitate rebellion and revenge as the royal family and many nobles are caught up in a murderous time known as "the Terror."

With penetrant insight into new historical scholarship and with wondrous narrative skill, Naslund offers an intimate, fresh, and dramatic re-creation of this compelling woman that goes beyond popular myth. Abundance reveals a compassionate and spontaneous Marie Antoinette who rejected the formality and rigid protocol of the court; an enchanting and tenderhearted outsider who was loved by her adopted homeland and people until she became the target of revolutionary cruelty and violence; a dethroned queen whose depth of character sustained her in even the worst of times.

Once again, Sena Jeter Naslund has shed new light on an important moment of historical change and made that time as real to us as the one we are living now. Exquisitely detailed, beautifully written, heartbreaking and powerful, Abundance is a novel that is impossible to put down.

  

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Quite simply, I like the sensual writing. - LibraryThing
Fascinating story, terrible writing. - LibraryThing
Even though I knew the ending, I still cried. - LibraryThing
She seemed so clueless to me in Naslund's depiction. - LibraryThing
That is the power of Naslund's writing. - LibraryThing

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Lisa.Johnson.James - LibraryThing

Just finished this book last night. The ending stuck with me for a while last night, because we all know how her story ends.....the book begins with a young Marie at 14, as she tells her own story, of ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - gaeta1 - LibraryThing

I dipped into Ahab's Wife and just couldn't get into it, but I thought it was just beause I was in the middle of moving halfway around the world. Abundance had such great reviews that I was willing to ... Read full review

Contents

My Dear Mother
268
My Dear Daughter
275
Elisabeth VigéeLebrun
283
Madame My Very Dear Mother
290
Giving Birth 19 December 1778
302
Farewell to Count von Fersen
309
The Death of the Empress of Austria
321
Letter from Axel von Fersen
328

After the Hunt
87
A Vow
94
A Dragon
109
A Tempest
113
The Empresss Reply
121
New Years Day 1772
129
Madame My Dear Daughter
137
Madame My Dear Mother
147
Winning and Sometimes Losing Spring 1774
165
The Chevalier Gluck
174
The Hall of Mirrors
181
Iphigénie enAulide 19 April 1774
187
Catastrophe
195
The First Gift of the New King to His Wife
207
The Château de Marly June 1774
213
Hunger and Riots
219
Before the Throne of God
226
A New Friend Comtesse de Polignac
238
The Queens Bed
244
Dawn
250
A Visit by the Queens Brother Joseph II Emperor of Austria
256
Letter of Joseph II Emperor of Austria to His Brother Leopold
262
The Hope of France 22 October 1781
336
Simplicity
344
Montauciel
353
A Bitter Birthday 1783
359
The Season of the Hameau
367
Theater 1785
376
Midsummer
383
Sad Days
392
The Verdict of the Trial of Cardinal de Rohan etc
398
Matters Grave and Financial
406
On the Fate of Charles I of England
414
Grief
422
The Tuileries Paris Fall and Winter 1789
449
The New Year the Tuileries 1790
458
Escape from Paris
469
Fersen
485
Terror Fury and Horror Seize the Earthly Powers
496
End of the Monarchy
502
To the Conciergerie
508
The Death of Marie Antoinette
517
Afterword
541
Copyright

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About the author (2006)

Sena Jeter Naslund is program director of the Spalding University brief-residency MFA in Writing.

Bibliographic information