Anyone who has been following Juliet Grey’s trilogy knows where this last book is going, so no one should be expecting a happy, pleasant read. It’s a GOOD read about the progress of the revolution, mostly from Marie Antoinette’s point of view, but if you feel even the slightest sympathy for Marie Antoinette (which you probably do if you’ve read the whole series), it’s a tough read.
THE PLOT: The book starts with the women’s march on Versailles of October, 1789, and ends with the guillotine in October 1793. Although the story is primarily told in first person from Marie Antoinette’s point of view, you also get brief interludes in the third person from the POV of Louison, an apparently real-life member of the lower classes who took part in the March on Versailles and fainted at Louis’s feet. She brings some perspective from the other side of the revolution, although she herself is not a radical. Her boyfriend, however, perfectly exemplifies those who wanted nothing less than blood, and lots of it. By the time the Terror is full-blown, and the revolution is turning on its own instigators, the reader gets a good feel for how out-of-control this whole situation got…mistakes of the royalty aside.
MY TWO CENTS: It’s very much to the author’s credit that she manages to build suspense in each layer of the story, even though you KNOW how it ends. You KNOW the royal family doesn’t manage to escape, yet you still find yourself wishing their journey to Varennes would end happily…even while cursing the stupidity that helps get them discovered. It’s like they have no clue how desperate their situation is, or increasingly becomes.
One word to the publishers: I wish they had kept the original title of “The Last October Sky,” which would have been a nice frame given the timeline of this novel. I hate “Confessions of Marie Antoinette.” It makes it sound like MA is giving a list of all the nasty deeds she did while laughing coyly in her sleeve…which is absolutely not how this book reads. Maybe that’s the irony of the title, but it just doesn’t work for me. I also wish the cover was a little more related to the first two books’ covers, but I guess an image of a sick, worn MA in ratty clothes wouldn’t attract readers.
BOTTOM LINE: A really good read, but emotionally draining. I do plan to reread the whole trilogy again at some point. I don’t know that I will reread this book over and over, though. It’s too heartrending.
TEACUP RATING: I give it a solid four teacups. I would give it more if the author had given it a happy ending. (I’m joking, but seriously, prepare yourself before reading this.)
ON SALE DATE: Confessions of Marie Antoinette will be on sale September 24th.
Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.