Synopses & Reviews
This brilliantly acclaimed novel tells the story of an expansive spirit locked in a pretty body and an impossible moment in history. As Versailles begins, fourteen-year-old Marie Antoinette is traveling from Austria to France to meet her fiancé. He will become the sixteenth Louis to rule France, and Antoinette will be his queen although neither shows a strong inclination toward power, politics, or the roles that they have been summoned to play. Antoinette finds herself hemmed in by towering hairdos, the xenophobic suspicion of her subjects, the misogyny of her detractors, and the manifold twists and turns of the palace she calls home. Versailles is an enchanting meditation on time and the soul's true journey within it, at once wittily entertaining and astonishingly wise.
"Davis's Antoinette as wit and a flirt is bewitching, and the book is an alternately funny and melancholy meditation on the passage of time and the vagaries of history." Publishers Weekly
"[S]plendid....It is rapturous, like an aria....[The language] is beautiful but less ornate than in much of Davis's previous work....The images from the queen's memory are lovely and magical, but they're served in simple, sensual sentences that sound the way one's everlasting spirit might sound, if it could speak." Stacey D'Erasmo, The New York Times Book Review
"Elegant....A rich and strange meditation on the silly little girl whose destiny was to be misunderstood by her people and by history." Katharine Weber, Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Kathryn Davis has a poetic sensibility, a canny eye for detail, and a novelistic imagination that blows past history-book details and gets us into the dirt and grit of the past....She gives us the imagined inside of events, the stuff of true art." David Guy, Washington Post Book World
"Thoroughly researched, carefully composed yet psychologically inert and unalive." Kirkus Reviews
"An elegant, idiosyncratic novel....The voice Davis has given Marie Antoinette is by turns sage, mercurial, and ravishing." The New Yorker
Versailles is the most widely praised, and in some ways the most accessible, of Kathryn Davis's dazzling novels. As a tale of women, marriage, and power, the novel is sure to spark lively discussion in reading groups.
Wittily entertaining and astonishingly wise, this novel of the life of Marie Antoinette finds the characters struggling to mind their step in the great ballroom of the world.
About the Author
Kathryn Davis has received a Kafka Prize, the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She is also the author of the novels Labrador, The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf, The Walking Tour, Hell and Versailles.