Thursday, December 3, 2015

An Interesting Review

I came across an interesting review of my novel Trianon, originally published in 1997, and now in its third edition, by a homeschooling mother, which had the following reflections:
I also wondered if perhaps Vidal doesn’t err towards being too positive about King Louis XVI and his queen. While I don’t find it at all believable that they were the villains the revolutionaries painted them, I also wonder if they were the paragons of virtue and martyrs for the faith that Vidal’s narrative often suggests they are. She protests that she doesn’t mean to make them seem to be perfect, but maybe it’s just the shortness of the novel, they don’t have much room to develop. What was most moving to me were their deaths. But also their commitment to almsgiving and prayer and their attempts to rule justly and fairly and to do right by the peasants, even at the expense of the nobility and clergy.

I want to believe this portrait, but I don’t know enough about the history to know how accurate it is. And this is the limitation of a historical novel, of course. I really want to find some good nonfiction now. I’ve poked about a bit on Vidal’s blog an have been disappointed so far not to find more about her research and links to historical sources. Maybe there’s more there that I’m not seeing? I wish she were better at showing her work. She does have a series of podcasts that explore hte history and I’ve listened to one of them and it was very interesting and she seemed to be quoting from historical documents and various historians, but sadly there were no bibliographical notes for the listener to follow up with, so I’m no closer to being able to find good historical sources to read. Vidal’s work would be much stronger and more compelling if she were more forthcoming with her sources. I wish the novel had a good bibliography and historical notes. I hope she considers them for future editions. (Read more.)
I left the following comment:
Dear Melanie, thank you for reading Trianon and reviewing it so thoughtfully on your always insightful blog! I am really honored. Yes, you are right, there are no sources listed at the end of Trianon. I decided to wait until I finished the sequel, Madame Royale, to include the sources I used for both novels. Also, on my Tea at Trianon blog I try to have posts about the various books consulted in my research, as well as controversies about the King and Queen. But because the blog has been going on for nine years, it is rather hard to find things on it now. So I am working on a non-fiction book about Marie-Antoinette which will include an extensive bibliography, footnotes, etc. It should be finished by January 2016. If you would like a review copy, just email me and I will send you one!
Actually, it will probably be more like February 2016 that it will be finished. I have written all my books with homeschoolers in mind, particularly older teens. I am sincerely honored when anyone takes the time to read Trianon since it was my first novel and rather lumpy. In spite of its flaws, it continues to sell steadily after eighteen years. The Tea at Trianon blog is full of discussions about my sources for all my books, and the sidebar in particular has several articles about various aspects of the royal couple's life. It depends on what one is looking for. People have been using this blog for research purposes for almost a decade! If people have a question which they cannot find on the blog, then they are welcome to write to me and often do. The Tea at Trianon forum also has topics about various books and biographies of Louis and Antoinette. My favorite biography is the two-volume study about both Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette by Nesta Webster. As for the podcasts on Marie-Antoinette on BlogTalkRadio, I try to always mention my source material, as those who have listened carefully can attest. There have been discussions among novelists as to whether a bibliography is necessary in a work of fiction. I decided that it is, and so put a lengthy one at the end of Madame Royale for both Trianon and Madame Royale, since so much of the information overlaps. In my three other novels, I have bibliographies, and my new book, being non-fiction, will as well. Share

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