Versailles by Kathryn Davis
A Novel

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Versailles is the story of an expansive spirit locked in a pretty body and an impossible moment in history. As the novel begins, fourteen-year-old Marie Antoinette is traveling from Austria to France to meet her fiancé, the mild, abstracted Louis. He will become the sixteenth Louis to reign in France, and Antoinette will be his queen, hemmed in by towering hairdos, the xenophobic suspicion of her subjects, the misogyny of her detractors, the larger-than-life figures of Mirabeau, Du Barry, Robespierre, and the manifold twists and turns of the palace she calls home.
The novel moves from room to room, from garden to fountain, occasionally breaking into playlets in which we glimpse characters struggling to mind their step in the great ballroom of the world. Driving our tour is the relentless engine of time, that friend to youth, for whom anything is possible. Antoinette gives birth to four children, two of whom will outlive her; she falls in love; she dies at the guillotine. A meditation on time and the soul’s true journey within it, Versailles is at once wittily entertaining and astonishingly wise.

About Kathryn Davis

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Kathryn Davis is the author of six novels. She has received the Kafka Prize, the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Lannan Foundation Literary Award. She teaches at Washington University, and lives in Vermont and St. Louis, Missouri.
Published August 12, 2013 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 224 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction, Romance. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Versailles

Publishers Weekly

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Davis (Walking Tour) takes liberties with the legend of Marie Antoinette in this novelization of the doomed queen's life, narrated as a series of sketches told mainly from Antoinette's point of view.

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Star Tribune

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With each successive biography of Marie Antoinette, the French queen who met the guillotine has become more sphinxlike and obscure.

Aug 10 2002 | Read Full Review of Versailles: A Novel

Entertainment Weekly

Probably nothing so pretty as the pensees in Kathryn Davis' impressionistic fifth novel, Versailles, which imagines being inside the young French queen's head just before -- and after -- the chopping block.

Aug 09 2002 | Read Full Review of Versailles: A Novel

New Statesman

Employing muted bassoons (an innovation not heard again until the 19th century) together with horns and strings, Dauvergne sets up a unique sonority for the Act V opening, colouring Hercules' death-pangs and those at his wife's betrayal with shades quite different from either the flute-driven Act...

Nov 21 2011 | Read Full Review of Versailles: A Novel

New Statesman

When the photographer and film-maker Lauren Greenfield began shooting a documentary in 2007 about the American timeshare mogul David Siegel and his wife, Jacqueline, it had all the makings of several Grand Designs Christmas specials rolled into one, with a dash of The Osbournes to taste.

Sep 05 2012 | Read Full Review of Versailles: A Novel

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