I would expect nothing but the best from Sena Jeter Naslund, and she brought it with Abundance! I know you are all sick of hearing me say it, but to me it is about a beautifully written piece of work, and Abundance had that as well as a great story of Marie Antoinette. I was hypnotized by her writing and I was addicted to the story to see what was going to happen to Marie (I mean besides visiting the guillotine and all). French history is something I didn't know much about so I was also excited to learn some new things about the French Revolution and the royal family.
Abundance starts as Marie Antoinette leaves Austria as a girl of only 14 and enters into France to become the Dauphine and wife of the Dauphin, Louie-Auguste. The story is told through the eyes of Antoinette and I think it was interesting to see how Naslund made her mature in her voice through out the story. In the beginning she is self absorbed, and frivolous in her thoughts and speech but then as the story goes on and she grows older she matures and you hear it in the way Naslund writes. The way Naslund tells the story, Marie Antoinette wanted nothing but good for the people of France, and tabloidish type pamphlets muddied her name and made her an enemy to the people. The people of France needed someone to blame their condition on and so it was an obvious choice to blame the extreme hunger and poverty on the Queen that had everything. Naslund created her Marie Antoinette walking a thin line between frivolity and responsibility to her country. Even at the end, while she was preparing to die to appease the people of France, she loved her country and its people but she was also worried about how her plum colored silk slippers looked.
If you like historical fiction than this is a great book for you to read. If you don't like historical fiction I feel like you would find this book interesting still, because it reminds me of chick-lit at its best (shopping, pretty things, romance, sex, girl friends, little dogs, etc). If you are like me and will read a book because the writing is mesmerizing then this is a good book for you too!
Annoying word of Abundance: Besmirched. The only compliant I have of Abundance is that Naslund uses the word Besmirched extraordinarily too many times in this book. I hate when an author repeats a word over and over and over again. Midway through the book we understood loud and clear that Marie Antoinette didn't want her name, her friends names, her clothes, her reputations, her bedding, to be Besmirched. Blah.
Book vs. Movie: If you ever saw the 2006 movie Marie Antoinette with Kirsten Dunst you, saw the frivolous side of Abundance. But if you were to truly make Abundance into a movie I think you would need to do it better than this Sophia Coppola version. Marie Anoinette only showed one layer of the Queen that Naslund wrote about. It would be interesting to dive into the other layers of the last Queen of France.
by Sena Jeter Naslund
If you liked this book please read: The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory