When I finished this book and said I loved it, Paul said that I seem to love all the books I read. I thought about that and it is true that I do like most of the books I read. I pretty much know what sorts of things I like and choose to read them, and so am rarely disappointed. Some things I just like, some I love, but this one? I am putting it certainly in the very top of the books I’ve read this year. I truly believe it was outstanding, fantastic, and many other superlatives. First of all, it’s a compelling and fascinating story-blending historical facts about the French Revolution, the anguish of a family torn apart by a tragedy and subsequent grieving and mental illness, and fascinating details about music and art. Secondly, it’s just so amazingly well written. Donnelly won a Printz honor award for her book, A Northern Light (also fantastic, highly recommend!) and it’s obvious that she is a really talented writer.
Not really sure I can summarize and do the story justice, so I think I”ll super brief: Andi, brilliant but anguished, goes to France and whilst researching an 18th century composer finds herself engrossed in the diary of a girl who lived during the French Revolution and was close to Louis-Charles–Marie Antoinette’s son who died a prisoner and was just a little boy. Andi is so engrossed that their lives seem to merge.
A couple of years ago I watched that Kirsten Dunst film about Marie Antoinette and I really liked it. I found it haunting because it portrayed her as a young mother who loved her children and I found myself often thinking about those children and their mother being beheaded. I thought that same feeling was in this story: humanizing Marie Antoinette and her family (though not at the expense of lessening the poor citizens’ plight.)
Overall a historically fascinating novel, and an emotionally gripping story as well. I’m convinced this has got to top award lists this year!