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Review: "Memoirs of the Court of Marie Antoinette" by Madame Campan

Memoirs of the Court of Marie Antoinette can be downloaded for free from our ebook catalog. The following review is by Lauren, author of Marie Antoinette's Gossip Guide to the 18th Century.

Jeanne Louise Genet Campan was incredibly accomplished for her age; her noted talents landed her the appointment of reader to the royal princesses, a job which entailed just that, yet so much more! It led to a position serving the Queen of France directly, placing the young lady in the middle of the cliques, the gossip and even the politics at Versailles.

A Royalist through and through, Jeanne grew up among the Bourbons.  She spent many years in the company of Marie Antoinette and her husband, and their friends as well.  The Memoirs are written so that you can feel her devotion and see her true attachment to the royal couple.  Her style is empathetic, descriptive and very lively; she brings the court to life.

"I will enjoy the comforts of private life, which exist not for us, unless we have the good sense to secure them for ourselves." [Marie Antoinette]

Once you begin this book, the intimate details of Marie Antoinette and the court of Versailles start to spill. Each page is filled with a story, a small gem of court intrigues. You will read about posh events held in private apartments, the pay scale, Madame du Barry's favorite servant and even unmentionable details of Louis XV's final days.

You will meet Louis XVI, as you may not have known him before. She describes the King as having handsome features, however marked with melancholy.  You will also learn more about Marie Antoinette, her disposition, the views others held of her, and her weakest moments.

The most powerful image I always recall is the evening Marie’s ladies pack her belongings in the moonlight, with a small hope of escape, her despaired majesty sitting detached, digesting it all. Madame, who stayed loyal to her friends until the end, although separated in the heat of the revolution, always kept up to date on the family’s situation. She even came into possession of a precious portfolio of theirs...

If ever there was a book to dive into at night (luxurious frothy beverage optional) this would be it.  I find it is like stepping out of 2010 for a while, and being whisked off to Versailles circa 1782. Do enjoy!

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