History Hoydens


Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

11 October 2013


Versailles, 1789. As the burgeoning rebellion reaches the palace gates, Marie Antoinette finds her privileged and peaceful life swiftly upended by violence. Once her loyal subjects, the people of France now seek to overthrow the crown, placing the heirs of the Bourbon dynasty in mortal peril.

Displaced to the Tuileries Palace in Paris, the royal family is propelled into the heart of the Revolution. There, despite a few staunch allies, they are surrounded by cunning spies and vicious enemies. Yet despite the political and personal threats against her, Marie Antoinette remains above all a devoted wife and mother, standing steadfastly by her husband, Louis XVI, and protecting their young son and daughter. And though the queen and her family try to flee, and she secretly attempts to arrange their rescue from the clutches of the Revolution, they cannot outrun the dangers encircling them, or escape their shocking fate.

September 24 marked the release of CONFESSIONS OF MARIE ANTOINETTE, the final novel in my historical fiction trilogy on the life of France’s most glamorous and notorious queen. I’ve spent the past five years researching and writing the trilogy, which began with the August 2011 release of BECOMING MARIE ANTOINETTE, chronicling her childhood in Austria and her years as France’s dauphine. It continued with the story of her triumphs and tribulations during her years as queen in DAYS OF SPLENDOR, DAYS OF SORROW, published in May 2012.

The trilogy has been a labor of love for me. I can’t recall when I have been so immersed in a project, and of course it was difficult to let my historical figures go after spending so much time with them. It was particularly hard given the cruelty and brutality the royal family was subjected to during the first few years of the French Revolution, in which they were essentially prisoners of the nation, stripped little by little of their possessions and their dignity.

Yet CONFESSIONS OF MARIE ANTOINETTE remains as hopeful a novel as possible, while remaining faithful to the historical record. Although the author (and 99.9% of the readers; I’d be surprised if someone doesn’t know what happened to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette) are already aware of their horrific denouement, the characters do not. Marie Antoinette finally matures in this book, becoming the queen her mother, the formidable Holy Roman Empress Maria Theresa of Austria had always prayed she would be. She is purposeful and hopeful, ever striving to keep her family together and her husband on the throne.

My philosophy about writing historical fiction is to stay faithful to the historical record and to add an author’s note at the end explaining when and why I deviated from it (if I had). The real story is usually far more exciting than most things novelists can invent. In the case of Marie Antoinette, I longed to reclaim her story from the 250 years of propaganda that have falsely mischaracterized her and continue to be repeated today by journalists, political pundits, and even scholars who have not bothered to do their research. My trilogy is not an alternate history in any way. Supported by the historical record, it depicts the true and accurate story of Marie Antoinette’s life.

Do you have a strong opinion about Marie Antoinette? Have you ever walked in her footsteps, i.e. visited Versailles, the Conciergerie in Paris, or her childhood homes in Austria (The Hofburg and Schönbrunn, for example)?


Blogger Louisa Cornell said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6:02 PM  
Blogger Louisa Cornell said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6:02 PM  
Blogger Louisa Cornell said...

Good grief! Blogger is eating my comments as fast as I type them. Let us try this for the THIRD time.

I am so looking forward to reading the final installment in this trilogy. I thoroughly enjoyed the first two! I have a soft spot in my heart for powerful women maligned by history simply because they were women.

I have visited Versailles and Schonbrunn and I have often wondered what her life might have been had the revolution not happened or had any of dozen or more turning points in her life been different.

6:07 PM  
Blogger Juliet Grey said...

Beautifully stated, Louisa!

5:45 PM  

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