I love novels that humanize notorious figures so I was eager for Grey's take on Marie Antoinette. From the first page, I immediately liked our famously despised heroine. Starting with her childhood, Grey introduces us to the pretty, jubilant young girl who is sacrificed to her mother's political aims. There's a staggering amount of research in this novel -- and it shows. The novel is written in first person, as Maria Antonia (as she's known in Austria) is polished and shaped and improved for her politically expedient marriage to the dauphin of France, and as she learns, we the reader learn. From the torturous gold braces required to straighten her smile to the ponderous, painful, ridiculous traditions of the French court, I was mesmerized.The novel ends just as Louis becomes king and Marie Antoinette queen; she's eighteen. What I appreciated the most about Grey's writing is that I never forgot our heroine was a child, essentially, and yet, I didn't find the story childish or young. Marie Antoinette's behavior -- recorded and memorialized by numerous courtiers and writers -- is made human, realistic, and believable in Grey's hands. I felt deeply sympathetic toward most of the characters in this novel, even the villains (especially the infamous Madame du Barry), because Grey provided such great context and grounding for their behavior. I'm excited for the second novel (this is a trilogy) and eager to see how Grey humanizes Marie Antoinette during some of France's most notorious historical moments. Another marvelous historical escape for the summer!