Wednesday, February 10, 2010

ABC Historical Fiction Challenge- Letter E: Elena Maria Vidal's TRIANON



Another Letter for The ABC in Historical Fiction Reading Challenge hosted by Historical Tapestry- this fortnight:  it’s the Letter E.

This book, for me, stands out as the most beautiful, most historically accurate and definitely the most moving of all Marie Antoinette novels I have ever read.  
Finally a book that depicts the grande queen as merciful, kind, loving and yes- yes, faithful to her king.  Surprised?  Well, it has been my experience that it is mostly here in North America that Marie Antoinette is  too often maligned (Hollywood doesn't help matters).  I don't know if the history was taught that differently- but here in Quebec, a French province of Canada, I learned the positive sides of this grande queen.  The same is true for many parts of Europe as well.
In Quebec, which was devoutly Christian for the longest time (more secular as of recently), we have been a bit more biased towards French history.  And, who knows, maybe our books were reflective of that.  Nevertheless, Marie Antoinette, for us here, is better known as La Reine Martyre (The Martyred Queen).  As a matter of fact, when speaking of her, she is automatically referred to as such, rather than by her name.
I'd also like to clarify that in our books, the  Fersen name comes up as someone loyal to death for his queen and king...not as the queen's lover. I understand this is debatable for the rest of North America, but if you come here- you'll be in the minority if you think otherwise.  I've gotten used to reading books though that portray Marie Antoinette in a negative way (I actually expect it now)- and I'm not so surprised anymore.  I'm just incredulous that people will actually think that this is the true context of history- a very misconstrued one.
Political debates regarding the French and English can get very heated in Quebec- often posing this province against the others just for the sake of history... let's just say that 'events of the past, are a thing we don't take lightly.  History is very important around here.  Same goes for Marie Antoinette- for us- dare not soil her name.  Marie Antoinette is known for charity, love, faith and loyalty; a strong Catholic - forever a martyr.
TRIANON, by Elena Maria Vidal, is the perfect read if you want the most reflective story on the Real Marie Antoinette. 


16 comments:

Mirella Sichirollo Patzer said...

This is one novel I'd like to read and hand't heard about it until now. I love Marie Antoinette - it's such an enduring story. I'll have to get my hands on a copy.

Ms. Lucy said...

Hi Mirella:) I strongly recommend this one...but careful, it's a heart-wrencher. Thanks:)

Whitney said...

Trianon looks like a good book. I've read a few books on Marie Antoinette but has always shown her in a more negative light; it would be interesting to hear it from both sides.

Christine Trent said...

Yes, although I have portrayed Marie Antoinette as having an affair with Fersen in my own book, I have grave doubts that it really happened, mostly because the queen was very aware of her own position in France. In addition, she had many opportunities to flee France when the troubles began, yet chose to stay by her husband's side. This speaks to me of a woman devoted to her family.

Ms. Lucy said...

Hi Whitney-this book is definitely a positive outlook, but by no means a happy one. It's very, very sad and realistic.

Ms. Lucy said...

Hey Christine! In your book (which I Love!), MA appears as a backdrop of the times- it kind of helps situate the reader and the circumstances for your actual heroine. So, in that sense, as an author you can choose to be as a fictionally creative as you wish. The book is not on Marie Antoinette per se. She's mainly used as a reflection of that epoque. That's how I viewed it. Plus, your heroine loves her! (And so do you, and sort of mention your views at the back of your book;)

What I'm mostly referring to are those actual novels based on her life that are so way out of line- or context. Thanks!

Christine Trent said...

My heroine loves her, much as the author does. :) I really do respect and admire Marie Antoinette. She was a very brave woman.

Thank you for your kind comments.

elena maria vidal said...

Thank you, Lucy, and everyone. I am glad I am not alone in my opinion! Of course, some of the finest French scholars such as Simone Bertiere show that there is little evidence of a love affair between the Queen and Fersen. Philippe Delorme as well. Unfortunately, many such works have not been translated into English. In English, though, we have the wonderful biographies of Nesta Webster and Desmond Seward, among others, who make it clear that an affair would have been out of the question. On my sidebar of my Tea at Trianon blog I have several articles discussing this issue in depth for those who want to explore it a bit more. Once again, dear Lucy, I am very much indebted to you!

Ms. Lucy said...

Elena! I have read Les Reines de France by Bertiere, and it is as you say. The much acclaimed historian never even alludes to an affair. As for Philippe Delorme, in his book, speaks highly of MA's profound qualities as a attentive mother and loyal wife.

True, their work is in French (the last I heard..) and so this is perhaps what has given limited historical accuracy to those who would prefer a juicier and more outrageous version (especially Hollywood!).

Thanks Elena- your novel proves excellency in standards in this regard for sure!

Matterhorn said...

What a lovely post, Lucy, and that's very interesting about the Queen's reputation in Quebec.

Ms. Lucy said...

Hi Matterhorn:) Thanks for your comment! Yes, Quebecers are taught French history in quite some detail. But I think many Europeans as well tend to think of MA in this light. My mom for instance, although born and raised in Italy, also calls her the martyred queen...

Miss Moppet said...

La reine martyre! How interesting. I love Simone Bertiere's Queens of France series. Her Marie Antoinette l'insoumise is the best biography I've ever read of MA, and I wish so much it could be translated.

Ms. Lucy said...

Hi Miss Moppet:) I absolutely adore that series- and I have to agree that l'insoumise is indeed the best MA biography ever:) Thanks!

Muse in the Fog said...

Wow, this sounds great. I have never heard of this before, so glad you chose to read it and share it with us!

Marg said...

You had me at the first sentence! The book was already on my TBR list, but I am moving it up the list now!

Rowenna said...

Wow, incredibly interesting to see how a different viewpoint can tell a dramatically different story. Love how history has all these facets, so fun to peek into a different one now again. I've always found the story of Marie Antionette an awful tragedy--much of the Revolution, really--so this appeals to me. Thanks for sharing!