You might think you know something about her, may even have had the pleasure of reading Antonia Fraser’s biography – but what about her as a young girl? I am lucky enough to have read about Marie Antoinette the Queen, and to have visited the Hofburg, having some knowledge of the reign of her mother Maria Theresa.
I’ve just recently had the pleasure of reading The Secret Diary of a Princess, a fictional account of Maria Antonia’s life from about the age of nine until her marriage to the Dauphin of France.
As suggested by the title, the book is set in diary form, starting from when Antonia received the diary as a gift from her sister Maria Amalia in 1765, though apart from the shorter entries, the entries spread out into a more traditional format, complete with dialogue between the characters – Antonia’s parents, siblings and other members of the court.
After the introductory passage, I was immediately sucked into the life of the young Archduchess. Her diary is written with such charm, you cannot help but care what happens to her. There were some laughs, tricks played on her governess, and a lot of sadness – losing her father so young for one instance. The descriptions of the chracters, settings and dress etc. are wonderfully detailed and evocative.
When I finished the book I also felt very sad for Antonia and her husband the Dauphin, knowing what was to come, and the fact that they were just frightened children when they married. It is the gift of the author that you care so much for the characters – not only that – it is a novel that makes you want to learn more about them. That cannot ever be a bad thing in my opinion. All in all, I really enjoyed the book and would recommend it to other readers as a well researched and engaging historical novel.
The Secret Diary of a Princess by Melanie Clegg is available to buy now on Kindle.
Readers please note: I received an electronic version of the book as a review copy only.