The Bad Queen: Rules and Instructions for Marie-Antoinette

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Graphia, 2011 - Juvenile Fiction - 420 pages
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History paints her as a shallow party girl, a spoiled fashionista, a callous ruler. Perhaps no other royal has been so maligned—and so misunderstood—as Marie-Antoinette. From the moment she was betrothed to the dauphin of France at age fourteen, perfection was demanded of Marie-Antoinette. She tried to please everyone—courtiers, her young husband, the king, the French people—but often fell short of their expectations. Desperate for affection and subjected to constant scrutiny, this spirited young woman can't help but want to let loose with elaborate parties, scandalous fashions, and unimaginable luxuries. But as Marie-Antoinette's lifestyle gets ever-more recklessly extravagant, the peasants of France are suffering from increasing poverty—and becoming outraged. They want to make the queen pay. In this latest installment of her acclaimed Young Royals series, Carolyn Meyer reveals the dizzying rise and horrific downfall of the last queen of France. Includes historical notes, an author's note, and a bibliography.

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I enjoy reading anything about Marie Antoinette and this one does not disappoint! as this book caters to the younger age crowd, Marie Antoinette’s voice certainly ‘feels’’ younger. The book does a good job covering most of the main moments of her life leading up to her death. The book paints her somewhat in a sympathetic light, although ignorant and oblivious to what really is happening outside of the palace walls. Her large spending sprees and luxuries are a result of her desperate desire to please others, and to be surrounded by her friends (albeit, they all have another agenda). You can’t help but shake your head at these actions, but on the other hand, she was lonely, with no one to really talk to, and being under the constant scrutiny of others, you do sympathize and try to understand what’s she’s feeling. Her admirers and friends don’t help much in that matter either, as they just grab and take what they can. So although she’s done mistakes and she can disliked for her behavior, you can’t help but pity her as well.
The way her story is told is perfect and the writing style is superb. Although it’s a huge thick novel, I found it easy to read, and quick to read through. The setting and descriptions are well done and realistic, so everything is easily pictured. The little rules outlining the beginning of every chapter are cute but it goes to show the lengths to which Marie Antoinette was raised and how she was expected to be at court. It’s rigid and very restrictive, and you can’t blame her for wanting to break rules to suit herself and her comfort - much to the chagrin of others in the French court.
This was a great telling of Marie Antoinette tale for younger readers and I greatly recommend this for those wanting to know more about a misunderstood Queen. Those wanting to read a more adult version of this book, I’d recommend Abundance by Sena Jeter Naslund. It’s a more detailed account of her life, and also very well done.

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About the author (2011)

CAROLYN MEYER is the acclaimed author of more than fifty books for young people. Her many award-winning novels include Mary, Bloody Mary, an ABA Pick of the Lists, an NCSS-CBC Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies, and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults; Anastasia: The Last Grand Duchess, a New York Times bestseller; White Lilacs, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, an NYPL Best Book for the Teen Age, and an IRA Young Adults' Choice; Marie, Dancing, a BookSense Pick; and her most recent historical novel, The True Adventures of Charley Darwin. Ms. Meyer lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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