Monday, October 15, 2012
I finally finished reading "Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow", the second in Juliet Grey's Marie Antoinette trilogy. Second books are always a little rough in my opinion, especially in a historical context when you know what is going to happen in the end. I loved her first book "Becoming Marie Antoinette" because it was filled with facts I didn't know put into a storyline that was fascinating and engaging. It put a new spin on who she was before she was the ill-fated queen of France. This second book, while it was filled with equally interesting facts, is definitely one of those books that partially feels like it's filling in so many facts to set the tone for the ending. You feel the build up of the revolution and from where Marie Antoinette feels it started and how the Diamond Necklace Affair along with simple hatred of her and the economic woes of France could not be turned over without firm action from the King, which we all know is hopeless.
It makes my heart ache for her that for all the things she tried to do right, she simply could not rise above all the fictional tales that had been spread about her for many years before. I am so saddened that King Louis was unable to decisively rid themselves of the rumors or to take it on and defend her. He seemed to think they could set an example and just let it roll over, but his inaction truly hurt them in all areas. Every time they presented an issue where he needed to take action, his inability to do so made me want to throttle him. Sheesh.
Overall I enjoyed the book and how it shined light on how much Marie Antoinette enjoyed being a mother to her children and how she really did change from filling the void in her heart with extravagance to putting all that childish energy into her family. I wonder how things might have been if they had had children early on instead of dealing with the obstacles they did. Then again, you have to think if history would have panned out the same way. (As Doctor Who has said, there are fixed moments in time you cannot be involved in because of how they directly influence the future)
Today I started "The Last Wife of Henry VIII" by Carolly Erickson. I'm almost halfway through already and I like it alright. The one thing that keeps me from saying I love it is that the time shifts are not pronounced. Which on one hand is nice because it keeps the flow of the story, but on the other it is annoying because I often will get 10 pages into a chapter and wonder "heeeey, didn't this happen several years later?" and will have to review everything I just read to get it in context.
I don't know much about Catherine Parr and so this has been a fun read just learning about where she came from and marriages she had before becoming Queen for a brief amount of time. While I am enjoying the book I also feel like I don't know her, there isn't a good connection with her as the main character. I don't identify with her repulsion at being betrothed to the elderly Lord Burgh or her utter despair when Ned dies and she later suffers a miscarriage. Sure there is sadness described, but it falls flat in my reading. I also felt that when she reconnects with her SIL they just magically become friends. From their relationship in the beginning of the book while it was not frosty, it certainly was not close and I cannot imagine that after all her SIL has been through she would just throw her heart open and be bosom buddies right off the bat. It seems totally ridiculous.
We shall see how the rest of the book pans out! :)