Saturday, October 6, 2012

Review: Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow by Juliet Grey

Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow
Author: Juliet Grey
Published: May 15, 2012
Genre: historical fiction
Paperback: 400 pages
Source: borrowed from the library

My Rating: 2.5 stars

Synopsis (from GoodReads): Paris, 1774. At the tender age of eighteen, Marie Antoinette ascends to the French throne alongside her husband, Louis XVI. But behind the extravagance of the young queen’s elaborate silk gowns and dizzyingly high coiffures, she harbors deeper fears for her future and that of the Bourbon dynasty.

From the early growing pains of marriage to the joy of conceiving a child, from her passion for Swedish military attaché Axel von Fersen to the devastating Affair of the Diamond Necklace, Marie Antoinette tries to rise above the gossip and rivalries that encircle her. But as revolution blossoms in America, a much larger threat looms beyond the gilded gates of Versailles—one that could sweep away the French monarchy forever.

My Thoughts: One of my favorite historical figures is Marie Antoinette. I just find her fascinating. When you look at her life, it's pretty incredible what she did with what she was given. I mean, if you are married by 14, sent to the palace of the most opulent court in Europe, and then blamed for everything, I think that tends to make for an interesting person. This novel is the second is Juliet Grey's Marie Antoinette trilogy, focusing on the time period from Louis XVI's ascession to the throne to the rumblings that lead to the French Revolution. There was much covered in this book, some of it given ample time and consideration in the plot, where as other things were just too drawn out (for my liking, anyway).

For me, the biggest problem with this book were the characters. There were so many of them! Now, many of them were in the first book in this trilogy, but there wasn't much of a preamble when this book started. Grey gave little background information on the characters, so it took sometime to figure out who was who. There were also so many characters that it was hard to keep track of. I wish that Grey had included a character chart at the beginning of her novel so that you could flip back if you forgot who anyone is or their relationship to Marie (some people only show up a few times in the book, so you forget who they are). 

The storyline of this novel was pretty good, but there were some parts that dragged. Anything dealing with Axel von Fersen (Marie's lover) seemed very slow, which was odd to me because you think it would be more interesting reading about Marie and the man that she truly loved. I did love how Grey portrayed the Affair of the Diamond necklace. I think that's sometimes brushed over in Marie Antoinette novels because of the complexity of it, but this was a great summation of what happened.

If you are at all curious about Marie Antoinette, then I would recommend this series (the first book, Becoming Marie Antoinette). While it was a long book, Grey is a good writer and I look forward to reading her last book in this trilogy.

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