Posted on 6/01/07 07:09 PM
[center]Abundance by Sena Jeter Naslund
Abundance is a fact-based fiction novel about Marie Antionette.
Marie is born the daughter of the Austrian Emporer. When she is 14, she is given in marriage to Louis XVI of France to become the Queen when Louis XV dies. Louis Auguste is a painfully shy and exceedingly dull for the Dauphin (future King.) In the novel, young Marie is portrayed as a poised, witty, and sophisticated match for Louis.
Unfortunately, Louis is unable or uninterested in consumating their marriage. This unfortunate situation persists until Marie is 19 years old. She is publically taunted by commoners who encourage her to "spread her legs and give us an heir!" Humiliated, and sexually frustrated, she turns to the amusements of partying and gambling.
She thinks very highly of herself however, as she simultaneously shuns new diamonds to assist with the debts and lessen the need for taxation of the French poor, she discusses how she will build and elaborately design a little theatre on her property, given her by the King, for her amusements.
The novel continues up until the death of the King and Queen by guillotine.
Naslund succeeded in capturing my interest in the initial chapters about how young Marie copes with the sudden and complete change in culture. But then, Marie's excesses become boring. The endless descriptions of the dress she will wear for this portrait or for that occasion act as filler where a more substantial story should be.
For some reason Naslund only vaguely alludes to the torrid love between Marie and Count Fersen, referring to him as her dearest friend. Better novels at least have acknowledged the relationship, and even the possibility that he was the father of at least one of her children.
I will say that this book does a decent job of describing the origins of the French Revolution, at least in the fiction novels I have read. Maybe about as good as Dickens, but it is a side story, not the main story, and the main story became an embarassment of descritions of abundance.
Instead of Abundance, if you are interested in the story of Marie's life, I suggest this book...[/center]
I wanted to finihs this book before I popped the movie Marie Antionette into the DVD player...
Marie is played by Kirsten Dunst. Louis XVI is played by Jason Schwartzman.
The movie tries to achieve the same level of hip as Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliette, by using a newer modern music score, but is falls completely flat, just as a Knight's take did. The modern music just didn't work for me. It just cheapened what could have been a great story.
There is virtually no dialogue for the first 10-15 minutes of the movie, yet so many things are happening to Marie, if I hadn't just read the books above, I would have no insight into what was occurring. The visuals just weren't enough.
One scene that was fun, is when Marie begins to dwell in the excesses to drown her depression at not having her marriage consumated. The punk tune "I Love Candy" plays as Marie and her ladies try on dozens of shoes, gorge on sweets, let dogs jump on expensive fabrics laid out for her review, and it was a great collage, which if the movie had been better balanced, could have shown Marie as a young girl realizing the world is her oyster, but instead, while amusing, it just showed a carelessly indulgent pop tart of the times.
Jamie Dorman enters the picture as Marie and Louis sneak out ot a masked ball. marie looking so very alluring in her black gown and see-through eye cover and bright red lipstick, flirts outrageously with the Count, thinking he doesn't realize who she is. The chemistry is electric.
At least Sophia Coppola was true to the history and there is a great shot of Dunst seducing the Count with only her fan. This Marie in love suddenly feels the need to simplify her life.
Later, when the kingdon is in peril, Marie stands by her man, at the cost of her life. It was an unreasonable and unbelievable choice by this otherwise selfish woman. She could have fled the country and lived a quiet simple life with her children and the Count.
But alas, that is history. And if anyone doesn't like it, then let them eat cake!!!