Historical Novelist writing from a woman's perspective in the Tudor and Medieval period. Her Tudor novels include The Winchester Goose, The Kiss of the Concubine, Intractable Heart and A Song of Sixpence. Medieval novels are Peaceweaver, The Song of Heledd, and The Forest Dwellers. All In paperback and on Kindle. Judith also writes historical blogs and articles.
I'd like to introduce you, if you haven't already met, to my good friend and author Ginger Myrick. I have read and loved her novel, The Welsh Healer, and although I haven't yet started it, I know this one will be just as absorbing. Her new novel is called Insatiable and is an alternative look at Marie Antionette of 'Let them eat cake' fame (although I am reliably informed she never really said that).
Take it away, Ginger, tell us all about it.
INSATIABLE: A MACABRE HISTORY OF FRANCE ~ L’AMOUR: MARIE
ANTOINETTE is my latest release.
It is a work of alternate history and borderline horror. For the most part it
is historically accurate in respect to the documentation and timeline, so much
so that people who know Marie Antoinette’s story will find enough to feel a
comfortable sense of familiarity … for a while!
It begins predictably enough with the birth of
Archduchess Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna in the Hofburg Palace and continues
on in the same historical manner, covering such events as the handover ceremony
at the Rhine, where she is stripped of all vestiges of her homeland including
her little pug, Mops. She enters the building on one side an Austrian
archduchess and exits on French soil as Dauphine Marie Antoinette. From there I
move on to her glittering wedding at Versailles where she goes through the
official marriage ceremony with Dauphin Louis-Auguste. The reader is taken through
the strange and uber-public customs established by the Sun King and enforced by
the Comtesse de Noailles, or as Marie Antoinette dubbed her Madame Etiquette.
The story references her mother’s harassing letters and the constant presence
of Maria Theresa’s spy, Count Mercy. Louis XV, Madame du Barry, the Princesse
de Lamballe, the Duchesse de Polignac, Axel Fersen—all make their respective
appearances. It’s all there, from the masked balls in Paris and her reveling at
le Petit Trianon to the expensive construction of her perfect little fairytale
village le Hameau de la Reine.
Lié Louis Périn-Salbreux [Public domain]
The rest of the book is not meant to feel
comfortable or predictable. I apologize. It’s just my way. Marie Antoinette is
known for her extravagance with all of her gorgeous custom-made gowns, her
diamond jewelry, and towering wigs, so why would I turn it into a horror story?
Well, because this story screams horror. Look what came after all the fun. Her
downfall was swift and brutal beginning with L’Affaire du Collier, continuing
with the storming of the Bastille and Versailles, and culminating in the French
Revolution in all its bloody glory. My goodness! It was bad enough before I
started with it. Even just the guillotine gives me the shivers, let alone the
massacres with heads on pikes and market women declaring that they wanted to
carve Marie Antoinette up and make cockades out of her entrails. I’ve just
given a more macabre explanation for the violence is all.
It says right in the blurb that there is “a
mysterious plague causing a sinister transformation in the residents of Paris,”
and it does more that just that. I attribute the origins of some of the historical
events to the mysterious (and fictional) plague and its victims. There are many
documented instances during the life of Marie Antoinette with undocumented
causes, even unexplainable behaviors, like Louis-Auguste’s fascination with
locks (a decidedly un-kingly hobby) and the overwhelming presence of dogs in
the palace. As an historical novelist, it’s my job to exploit exactly these
sorts of loopholes and gray areas in history to write an interesting and
believable story, but I think I’ve taken that premise to new heights with this
I also put a spin on the propaganda against Marie
Antoinette, taking the line that some of the
The Storming of the Bastille, Henry Singleton [Public domain]
assertions were true despite the
fact that there was never any solid proof to back them up. (There must be
something going on for people to imagine it! Right?) I stick with the assumption
of Louis XVI’s impotence, although I attribute it to a fictional medical
condition. There were also stories asserted by the libelles—basically the National Enquirer of the time—that Marie
Antoinette and her brother-in-law, the Comte d’Artois, had an affair. This also
plays a major part in the book. I adopt the assertion that she and Axel von
Fersen were lovers, which although widely accepted has never been conclusively
proven. I also make her enmity with Madame du Barry into something more than a
simple clash of personalities.
But, I don’t want potential readers to
think this book is wholly one thing or the other. I don’t want them to be put
off by the horror aspect, because that is only a part of it. Some of the scenes
get graphic, but hey! It was a revolution! There is so much more to the story
than that. There is a sweet and touching family depiction and a passionate love
story at the core. There are some scenes in it that are so touching that I cry
each time I read them. My Louis XVI is valiant and decent, if indecisive, and
Louis-Joseph, the first Dauphin, is as sweet and pitiable as his reputation
holds. In fact, I think I’ve done a pretty good job capturing the personalities
of all the main characters, at least I hope I have. I also try to give a
well-rounded look at the political picture if not a detailed account. But that
is where the story diverges from the path of straight historical fiction into
alternate history. The result is the same, it’s just a different and
slightly more twisted journey!
Not only have I put my spin on Marie
Antoinette’s story, I plan to do the same with other French notables, as well! This
book is part of a series. I originally thought to do only a trilogy but have
since revised my opinion. I think I have enough interesting ideas to do at
least four books without the premise becoming hackneyed. The next will be about
Napoleon and the subsequent one about Catherine de’ Medici. I’m still debating
the others. Please stay tuned.
INSATIABLE is now available for a discounted introductory price at: