I recently finished this biography of the ill-fated Queen of France, famous for words she never uttered. Sent from her home in Austria at the age of 14 to be wed to the future King Louis XVI, her tumultuous life at Versailles is vivid in Antonia Fraser’s book.
What I liked about the book:
Everything. A well written, detailed account of the Queen of France, you can’t help but feel enmeshed in the daily life of Versailles during her reign. From the descriptions of the clothes to the intimate letters she wrote and the abuses hurled at her, Marie Antoinette’s life feels timely and timeless in Antonia Fraser’s pages. A young ‘celebrity’ who for awhile gets caught up in the spoils of her fame, the Queen seemed doomed from the start. Accused of being not too bright, a lesbian, an adulterer, and burdened with the nickname ‘Madame Deficit’ for her lavish spending, Marie Antoinette weathered her bad press in style. She also showed tremendous courage and unwavering dedication to her husband, refusing ever to leave his side as revolution broiled around them. During her trial, her composure under intense questioning and horrible accusations remained steadfast. Certainly, I will never forget her journey and the sad ending to her too short life.
What I disliked:
For me, there was nothing to not like in this brilliantly crafted book. I loved Antonia Fraser’s style, which felt both intimate and removed at the same time. Ms. Fraser’s well researched biography might have read as ‘just the facts, ma’am’, but instead felt current and as if I was seeing history before my eyes.
I rate this book a 5 out 5 stars and give it my enthusiastic recommendation. Marie Antoinette and her entourage spring to life on the pages of the book and are not easily forgotten.
An interview I did with the author Jen McConnel.
Originally posted on Jen McConnel:
Today, Valerie Noble dropped by to talk about her writing process and her upcoming debut, THE ENERGY CRUSADES. Enjoy!
1. When did you start writing?
While we were growing up together, one of my best friends used to always say “Valerie, you live in a dream world”. She was right. I constantly make up stories in my head, but when actually putting pen to paper, it’s far more difficult to write a beginning, middle, and end. I have several notebooks full of unfinished stories, and it wasn’t until the idea for The Energy Crusades blossomed in my mind that I was able to complete my first novel.
2. Are you a pantser or a planner?
I rang in the New Year last night with the help of some family and friends, determined to stay up until midnight in order to greet the New Year and say goodbye to 2013, one of the hardest of my life.
As my guests sat around the table enjoying food and drink, I handed each of them a stack of cards to fill out. At first, they laughed and joked about having to do homework for me, but it wasn’t long before everyone came up with some insightful answers.
Here is the first card: (cards downloaded from here)
- quit smoking (do it!!)
- quit complaining
- stop saying the “f” word so much
- stop being lazy/ making excuses
- stop judging others
- quit procrastinating
- learn to play the guitar
- learn to play the piano
- learn to sew
- learn to play tennis (of course I loved this answer!!)
- get better at drawing/ art
- give more to the less fortunate
- forgive (my favorite answer)
- volunteer with Habitat for Humanity
- practice kindness
And the last card:
- my mom
- The Pope- seems like a grand answer but the person meant they wanted to give more, be selfless, practice forgiveness
- Mother Theresa- practice kindness and compassion
- Zooey Deschanel- for real one of the teenagers said this but her answer as to why was cool- she felt Ms. Deschanel was always positive and she wanted to emulate that (and her style) and stop complaining.
Everyone had great reasons behind their answers and in general we all felt a little low in regards to 2013. Our activity definitely helped lift our spirits and we vowed to encourage each other and hold ourselves to our goals. Happy New Year and thank you all for spending some time reading my blog and giving me a bit of your time. I am very grateful. Bring it on 2014! I’m ready to turn the page.
I went on a little trip after Thanksgiving and came home to find my husband had decorated the house. It was a lovely surprise, but also a wake up call. Hey! Christmas is right around the corner. Better get a move on.
I never have a lot of money to spend at Christmas and it’s always my goal not to incur any debt at the holidays. If I have to buy a present on my credit card, then I can’t afford that present. I don’t want anyone going into debt to buy me a gift, and I believe the feeling would be mutual. I give what I can and I love giving with an open heart and untroubled mind.
Every year I keep a list of my favorite things to give away as gifts. Here are some of them:
L.A. Son, by Roy Choi which combines his story and some of his recipes. He is a true inspiration and a crusader for providing food for those in need: “U always got a meal if u c me” is one of his quotes from Twitter and I think that sums up what a fantastic human being he is. You might have heard of the Kogi Food Truck , Roy is one of its founders and, in my opinion, the one who started the food truck revolution. Buy his book! He has quite a story to share.
I love these letters made out of books! I want them, and I want to give them as gifts. Inexpensive and clever, I found them at Nordstrom.
Those are some of my favorites from the year, how about all of you? What am I missing out on?
Happy Holidays and thank you for reading.
It’s Halloween, and generally one of my favorite times of the year. I love Fall and all the bright colors it brings, the crispness in the air and the fun of dressing up for Halloween.
However, October has been a tumultuous month this year. There have been some ups: an anniversary, birthdays to celebrate, and some good news in terms of my writing career. There have been some very low lows: tragedy, endings, loss. Such is the cycle of life and you have to learn to take the good with the bad, even when the bad seems to outweigh all that is good.
One of my favorite things about October is seeing all of the decorations and inventive costumes. I’ve had fantastic times dressing up for Halloween parties and trick-or-treating with the kids. Here is a flashback, and I believe this was our first Halloween together:
Happy Halloween everybody! Whatever is going on in your life, I hope it only gets better.
If you feel like sharing, I’d love to hear about some of your favorite costumes.