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Before she was Marie Antoinette, she was Maria Antonia, daughter of Empress Maria Theresa of Austria and Emperor Francis I. As the title suggests, young Maria Antonia keeps a secret diary which gives the reader an intimate look at her thoughts, her family relationships and the daily life of an archduchess and the duties and responsibilities that go with it. I really liked Maria’s voice and loved her impish sense of humor,

“Consequently, I did not learn very much today.”

“It was I who put salt in the Countess Brandeis’ hot chocolate. I am very sorry.”

“It was I who put a grasshopper down the back of Countess Brandeis’ dress during the concert. I am not sorry.”

Princesses must grow up and marry where they are told, and the book continues through Maria Antonia’s betrothal to the dauphin of France, the transformation required to bring her up to snuff with the French (including wearing braces to straighten her teeth), and then leaving her old life behind to begin the long formal journey to France to join her new husband and the French court.

Every single item about my person was to be removed and replaced in an act that symbolised my domestic transformation from Austrian Archduchess to French Dauphine.”

I really enjoyed this, despite the diary format (admittedly not a favorite of mine). Clegg does a good job of setting the scene and giving the reader a good sense of time and place without clubbing you over the head with heavily detailed descriptions of every last button, shoe and petticoat. Recommended for those interested in the early days of Marie Antoinette, and would also be suitable for young adult readers. Don’t quote me, but I believe The Secret Diary of a Princess is only available as an e-book at this time. 4/5 stars.

FTC? Amazon verified purchase.

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