Review: The Wardrobe Mistress: A Novel of Marie Antoinette by Meghan Masterson

  • Sep. 2, 2017 12:30 a.m.

The Wardrobe Mistress: A Novel of Marie Antoinette by Meghan Masterson


Published: August 15, 2017, St. Martin’s

Author Meghan Masterson gives the whole story of the famous/fashionable Marie Antoinette and the revolutionary movement that would change the entire future of France. Usually readers are given an intimate point of view from the last queen of France herself, or one of her ladies in waiting – giving us only a one sided view of the predicament. In Masterson’s novel’s perspective is told by the main character, Giselle Aubry, an undertirewoman to the queen (she along with others attend to the dressing of the queen and the caring of the queen’s gowns). She dreams about designing beautiful dresses herself and becoming another ‘Rose Bertin,’ – the queen’s favored dress designer.

Upon her arrival at the Palace of Versailles, she hears constant political discussions while observing rising threats of riots due to the cost of bread, shamefully low wages, and the extravagance of the royal family outside the palace. And now that she lives in the palace, her uncle has convinced her to report the queen’s movements to him so he can once again relive his days back in the secret spy ring ‘du roi’ – back to the time of King Louis XV.

From her position Giselle is able to witness both sides of the war: the revolutionaries who will one day overcome the royal family, and the royalists that support the king and queen. Her family is part of the Third Estate that revolts and while she sympathizes with those who have much less and ask for a decent living, she also sympathizes with the queen stating, “she’s a woman who does not deserve her fate, or all the blame heaped upon her personally, no matter what errors she’s made.” That’s the thing about Giselle – she was able to see beyond the royal titles and paint Marie Antoinette in a humanistic light, with her own weaknesses and charms. There is no definite black or white in The Wardrobe Mistress. It teaches from a neutral perspective that compared to what any text may state there are always several shades of gray in a story.

Giselle also meets and falls madly in love with Leon Gauvain, a watchmaker. But as things begin to intensify when the American Revolution begins to inspire the people of France to start their own. Conflict surrounds the couple and could possibly tear them apart due to the political situation swarming around them with its sheer brutality.

No doubt it was a time where the King and Queen were walking on eggshells. Marie Antoinette was singled out and was basically slandered in cartoons and pamphlets, while symbolizing excessive wealth. The King was indecisive. After a decision was made, he could easily be swayed by any one of his Ministers who, of course, were not thinking of the people’s best interests. Giselle saw this and knew that the wrong people were advising the King and Queen and nothing could be done to save them. It was a tragic end for this couple, and being able to read about it while not taking sides will open our eyes to how both sides had their potential and flaws.

Just Posted

Relatives of murdered family critical of killers’ sentences

Open letter to sentencing judge criticizes ruling allowing killers to apply for parole in 25 years

City rolling out Green Carts

Green Carts used for organics, such as yard waste, food scraps and pet waste

New teaching standards applauded

New code of standards affecting teachers, principals and superintendents to kick in Sept. 1, 2019

UPDATED: Agriculture minister speaks to cattle producers

2018 Alberta Beef Industry Conference underway in Red Deer

Updated: Red Deer gets WHL Bantam Draft and Awards Banquet

WHL will holds its draft and awards ceremony in Red Deer for next three years

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Twenty years later, figure skating’s most famous backflip remains amazing (and illegal)

Figure skating involves spins, jumps, twizzles and a whole host of other… Continue reading

You don’t need to chop like a TV chef to get the job done

Standing in line at the emergency room, makeshift bandage around my finger,… Continue reading

Seychelles swaps debt for groundbreaking marine protection

CURIEUSE ISLAND, Seychelles — With deep blue waters, white sand beaches and… Continue reading

Trump endorses raising minimum age to 21 for more weapons

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump endorsed stricter gun-control measures Thursday, including raising… Continue reading

Red Deer blood clinic in need of 600 donors

Aunt encourages Central Albertans to donate blood after losing nephew

Court considers banning diesel cars in German cities

BERLIN — A German court began considering Thursday whether authorities should ban… Continue reading

US women beat Canada in Olympic hockey; Gisin tops Shiffrin

PYEONGCHANG, Korea, Republic Of — A tense shootout, a dazzling deke and… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month