Marie Antoinette has been much maligned over the last couple of
centuries; but many recent books, most notably Antonia Fraser's
(non-fiction) have gone a long way to putting flesh
back on to the caricature. Naslund adds value by allowing Marie Antoinette to speak for herself, giving us access to the secret thoughts
and feelings (albeit hypothetical) of the young queen - territory that a
biographer must be wary of entering. For example, some say that the young
Maria Antonia met Mozart when he played the harpsicord for her mother, the Empress of Austria, and that
afterwards Maria asked him what he would like as a reward, to which he replied
her hand in marriage - a prize obviously not available to him due to the stark difference in their social positions. Naslund plays on this
theme by having the recurring image of the young Mozart haunt...
Beyond the Book
Sena Jeter Naslund
was born in Birmingham, Alabama; her mother taught music
and her father, who died when she was 15, was a doctor; she has two older
brothers. In high school she played cello with the Alabama Pops Orchestra.
She won a music scholarship to the University of Alabama but turned it down in
favor of studying writing at Birmingham-Southern College. While she was there
she attended the Breadloaf Writers' Conference - a two week series of lectures,
workshops and classes (since 1926, the conference has been held annually at the
Breadloaf Inn, Middlebury, Vermont and claims to be the oldest writers'
conference in the USA).
After graduating from Birmingham-Southern, she was accepted at the Iowa Writers'
Workshop at the University of Iowa where she...