This book could have been superb. Carolly Erickson knows her stuff not only on Marie-Antoinette, but on the whole historical period in general. This is quite evident but not fully taken advantage of. Erickson perhaps had a good plan and layout of her story, keeping to certain accuracies and adding in fiction where appropriate. Unfortunately, Erickson’s problem is at the very core of novel writing.
Erickson basically seems unable to write a novel. She writes in the form of a diary – such a form is restrictive in the first place and Erickson may have felt that writing in Marie-Antoinette’s voice instead of her own could give her a justified excuse to write in a bland, amatuerish way throughout the whole novel (as if Marie-Antoinette was unintelligent!) It doesn’t work. I wouldn’t believe in a million years that the French queen would have written in her diary in such a mind-numbing, boring way. Surely she had more command of language than Erickson makes out. I could not believe how childish it all was. This fictional diary starts when she is twelve years of age, right until her death, but the difference in voice between that time is minimal. Continue reading