Review: The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette – Carolly Erickson

Author: Carolly Erickson 
Title: The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette 
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, YA 
 Pages: 343 
First Published: 1997 
Where I Got It: Borrowed from Library
Imagine that, on the night before she is to die under the blade of the guillotine, Marie Antoinette leaves behind in her prison cell a diary telling the story of her life—from her privileged childhood as Austrian Archduchess to her years as glamorous mistress of Versailles to the heartbreak of imprisonment and humiliation during the French Revolution. 

Carolly Erickson takes the reader deep into the psyche of France’s doomed queen: her love affair with handsome Swedish diplomat Count Axel Fersen, who risked his life to save her; her fears on the terrifying night the Parisian mob broke into her palace bedroom intent on murdering her and her family; her harrowing attempted flight from France in disguise; her recapture and the grim months of harsh captivity; her agony when her beloved husband was guillotined and her young son was torn from her arms, never to be seen again. 

Erickson brilliantly captures the queen’s voice, her hopes, her dreads, and her suffering. We follow, mesmerized, as she reveals every detail of her remarkable, eventful life—from her teenage years when she began keeping a diary to her final days when she awaited her own bloody appointment with the guillotine.
As many of you know Marie Antoinette is my second favorite female historical figure, so I’m bound to be rather skeptical. Yes, knowing the real and true history of the Queen…it’s hard to ignore the obvious (at least to me) inaccuracies. This, like many movies, are made to be overly dramatized and entertaining. Not a history lesson, so taking off my “history goru” hat and just enjoying the story made things 100% better. 
I enjoyed the ride that Carolly Erickson presented. I did feel like she hurt the Queen’s case more then helped though. She made her seem very selfish and vain. Yes, she was like that in real life, but this version of the Queen was rather different from other versions. Not only was she selfish and vain, but she was annoying at some points. It’s hard to explain really, but I was NOT at all a fan of this version of the Queen. Granted it IS suppose to be in diary format, but still… 
Also, I was surprised to learn that this falls into the YA category. Interesting…I didn’t get the feel of “YA”ish to it. Eh, oh well. 
Even though I wasn’t a fan of the Queen that Erickson presented, I must applaud the author for her writing skills. It was lovely and she made the world of France come to life. She made the fictitious and real-life characters blossom to life. I have read another book by Carolly Erickson…I am starting to like her more and more. Perhaps another book is on the horizon. We shall see. 
In the end, this was okay. There are A LOT of historical inaccuracies and I wasn’t too keen on the version of the Queen the author painted, but it wasn’t bad. A nice read for a hot day by the pool. You do get the nice splash of drama, romance, fun, and in the end… tragedy. I would recommend this to open-minded History lovers and for those that like Historical Fiction. I shall stamp this with…mmmmm….(very undecided)…mmmmmm….3 stars. 
Favorite Character(s): Count Ferson (such a dreamboat), Louis (can’t help but want to pinch his cheeks), Madame de Barry (she always entertains me…I think I may be her for Halloween next year) and Princess Lambelle. 
Not-so Favorite Character(s): Marie Antoinette (not too keen on how she was presented) and the Empress (meh)”

Carole owner of


42 thoughts on “Review: The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette – Carolly Erickson

  1. Melliane says:

    Oh a French English book, it's so fun! I always love when you review books like that. I agree she is a great character but I think I prefer to see her in movie for now.

  2. Melissa (Books and Things) says:

    Hm… not sure if the inaccuracies would bother me, but I'm not a proficient historian of this era or place. I think as long as I know they aren't intended to educate but entertain I can deal. Still… I might pass this one by for a better telling tho. Brilly review!

  3. kimbacaffeinate says:

    Wonderful review, I love this Queen too. As for YA books with the exception of YA contemporary especially the romance (which I avoid) they are really well written, maybe a little faster paced..but I have been quite surprised.

  4. Lauren Elizabeth says:

    I agree, I really love reading about Marie Antoinette. It's a shame there are so many inaccuracies though! I guess I'll take off my history lover hat too, and then I'll be fine. Lovely review!

  5. Lily B says:

    I love stories of Marie Antoinette! I have not read one in a while, but I believe a new one is coming out so I am excited. Interesting review, not sure why this one falls into the YA cap, maybe because of her age?Not sure how I feel about the straying from the truth myself, but if it's a fairy well done book then it's not too bad 🙂

  6. Naida says:

    I haven't read much about Marie Antoinette yet, you've reminded me I need to. I like my historicals to be really based on facts though. Great review!

  7. DMS says:

    I would imagine that the more you know about a historical time the easier it is to find the inaccuracies. I don't know much about this time period, so I probably wouldn't recognize most of them. This sounds like an interesting book and I really enjoyed your review!~Jess

  8. Jenny says:

    I don't know much about Marie Antoinette aside from the basics, so the inaccuracies likely wouldn't be an issue for me! Being a history buff though, I can see how they would dull the book's shine a bit.

  9. Carole Rae says:

    It annoys me…the only time its okay (for me) to take liberties is if there is no proof of the event (all based on opinion) and if there are odd blocks of time missing.

  10. Aurian says:

    I used to read a lot of biographies as a teenager, and the one I still remember is about Catherine de Medici by Jean Plaidy. Really liked that one.

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