The Secret Diary of a Princess, Melanie Clegg

[amazon_image id=”B004R1Q9PI” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” class=”alignleft”]The Secret Diary of a Princess[/amazon_image]Melanie Clegg’s (Madame Guillotine) novel [amazon_link id=”B004R1Q9PI” target=”_blank” ]The Secret Diary of a Princess[/amazon_link] is the story of Maria Antonia, daughter of Hapsburg Empress Maria Theresa of Austria and her husband Emperor Francis I. Marie Antoinette is perhaps best known for being executed during the French Revolution, but this story begins around the same time as negotiations for her marriage to the future Louis XVI began and ends as the wedding itself begins. As such, it offers a rare glimpse into a lesser chronicled period of the life of Marie Antoinette. She emerges a sympathetic character—dutiful and kind, but also hopeful and optimistic. One cannot help but feel sorry for her as we know where the road she is marching down will ultimately lead her.

Clegg’s decision to write the novel as a secret diary and focus on the years leading up to Marie Antoinette’s marriage is an interesting one, and ultimately, I think, a smart one. It is hard to feel pity for a girl brought up in the Hapsburg Court with every luxury, but Clegg manages to create a likeable Marie Antoinette, so happy with her family and so frightened to leave, most likely never to see them again. Clegg’s research into the time period results in an authentic read, and the vivid descriptions of everything from clothing and furnishings to food make the period come alive. The groundwork for some of the dislike the French later felt for Marie Antoinette as an Austrian outsider is also laid, and the novel begs for a sequel chronicling Marie Antoinette’s years in Versailles. The book was published directly to [amazon_link id=”B002FQJT3Q” target=”_blank” ]Kindle[/amazon_link]. It is a quick, compelling read and especially enjoyable for readers who might want to learn more about France’s much maligned queen.

Rating: ★★★★½

While this book definitely qualifies for the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge, I am making a sort of educated leap including it in the YA Historical Fiction Challenge. The author does not necessarily classify it as YA, but given Marie Antoinette’s age for much of the book (she is 14 as the book ends), and some of her concerns, I would say it fits squarely in the YA genre, although adults who don’t necessarily read YA would also feel completely comfortable reading the book.

A Couple of Announcements and Some News

Lonicera periclymenum ✽ Chèvrefeuille ✽ Honeysuckle

It won’t be long before the honeysuckle vines on my front porch bear blooms like this one. Such gorgeous weather for my spring break! I just have time for a quick blog post before we go out for a walk on the nature trails nearby. One of the things I love about where I live is that it is close to everything—the big city, shopping, and nature, too.

My first big announcement is that you can now download my book for your Kindle.

A Question of HonorI was inspired by Melanie Clegg, who has published her book The Secret Diary of a Princess, a diary novel about Marie Antoinette, via Kindle and Lulu. My book had already been available on Lulu, but I hadn’t thought about Kindle. It is cheaper to buy my book via Kindle ($3.00) than via Lulu, unless you want to buy the PDF from Lulu.

Seventeen-year-old Gwenllian, a young Welsh woman of the twelfth century, is the daughter of a local healer and a mysterious Scotsman, and when a rejected suitor seeks her help during the birth of his child, she is not sure what to do. Meanwhile, it seems unlikely she will be able to be happy with Elidyr, the man she loves. When she is accused of a horrible crime, she runs. Is she guilty? Can she come to terms with her choices and resolve a question of honor?

Tomorrow, like Melanie has, I will post a teaser here on this blog.

Melanie’s blog is wonderful, by the way, which allows me to segue into another announcement. I want to profile some of the great blogs I’m reading and talk about why I like them and how I discovered them (if I can remember), which will, I hope, encourage more people to check them out. Melanie’s blog is called Madame Guillotine. The design is a feast for the eyes. Melanie recently took a trip to the Bath Fashion Museum as research for her writing, and Vic of Jane Austen’s World linked to her blog post with images of the gorgeous dresses in the museum, and it was this gorgeous post that introduced me to Melanie’s blog. Melanie writes about her research (which as a history geek and, I’ll admit it, a research geek, I love reading about), her writing, and other topics as eclectic as music and television, too.

I found Melanie’s approach to her writing inspiring. It made me think about my own writing in a new way. I do want to try to publish my own writing in an avenue that will garner it more attention, but I think Melanie has hit on something wonderful and eye-opening: the concept of the indie writer. She doesn’t use that language, but the way she uses her blog to discuss her writing and the way she sells her fiction made me think of indie music artists. So I don’t know if this is good, bad, interesting, or what, but look for more of the indie writer on this blog, too.

I do have one caveat about the Kindle version of my book. The book layout was created based on a PDF I uploaded, and I’m not sure that the layout was preserved. I will do some research into how to make the pages look more the way I want them to on a Kindle because that is a quibble I have had with other Kindle books I’ve read.

With all of that out of the way, I am excited about this book:

A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things that Really Matter

Doesn’t it look good? It isn’t available until April 28, but you can pre-order it on Amazon.

photo credit: ✿ nicolas_gent ✿