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Author
SenaJeterNaslund
Posts: 67
Registered: ‎08-01-2007
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Re: Questions for the Author

Yes, she is a somewhat mysterious character. Both she and her brother are meant to be representatives of the struggling poor, the people who are the Other to the world of MA. She's not exactly the conscience of MA but a reminder that there are people beyond her world. She too has her gifts--her talents, ambitions, powers.




driamaria wrote:
I have a question for the author or any other reader - who was the girl inside the palace with the boots who was discovered by MA and Louis? I don't understand who she was or what her point in the story was. And for having been brought up twice, I feel like there is some meaning here that I am missing....


Author
SenaJeterNaslund
Posts: 67
Registered: ‎08-01-2007
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Re: Questions for the Author

I would agree with Marcia, that she represents danger, the unexpected course of events. Joan of Arc was of course a peasant girl who became an unexpected and powerful leader, but she also resembles MA in being vulnerable. In some sense we are all like one another in our vulnerability.



marcialou wrote:
I count 3 times that the booted woman appears in Act II. In paperback, the first time is when MA and the Dauphin see her in the Venus Room (p 106). She wears a cape like Joan of Arc but looks like MA.

The second time is when MA is looking for Artois, possibly for an assignation, on p 170. Instead of Artois, she finds the hidden room.

The third is on p 191 while MA is with friends. Still resembling Joan of Arc, the booted girl offers condolences and says, "The end of an era approaches" Is she portending the King's illness and death or the Revolution?"

There is something other-wordly about the character and she seems to represent danger and death.

Marcia

Message Edited by marcialou on 08-14-2007 03:27 AM

Message Edited by marcialou on 08-14-2007 03:28 AM


Author
SenaJeterNaslund
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Re: Questions for the Author

In Dickens "A Tale of Two Cities" very near the end, he brings in a "little seamstress" character to represent the injustice of the Revolutionaries zeal to execute. She is an entirely harmless, innocent little creature whom Sydney Carton comforts. I wanted a little seamstress who was somewhat more complex and mysterious in her function and a presence throughout.




Fozzie wrote:


marcialou wrote:
I count 3 times that the booted woman appears in Act II. In paperback, the first time is when MA and the Dauphin see her in the Venus Room (p 106). She wears a cape like Joan of Arc but looks like MA.

The second time is when MA is looking for Artois, possibly for an assignation, on p 170. Instead of Artois, she finds the hidden room.

The third is on p 191 while MA is with friends. Still resembling Joan of Arc, the booted girl offers condolences and says, "The end of an era approaches" Is she portending the King's illness and death or the Revolution?"

There is something other-wordly about the character and she seems to represent danger and death.

Marcia

Message Edited by marcialou on 08-14-2007 03:27 AM

Message Edited by marcialou on 08-14-2007 03:28 AM



On page 193 (I have deduced that the hardcover and paperback pages are the same), we find out that the girl is the sister of the postilion. The postilion was the son of the man who was gored by the stag and MA helped him and his family (pg. 155).

"You do recognize me. And she is my sister who lives in Paris now to work." (pg. 193)

That explains who she is, but not her function in the novel. I agree that she is foreshadowing the changes to come (not sure exactly what those are since I have just finished Act Two).


Author
SenaJeterNaslund
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Registered: ‎08-01-2007
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Re: Questions for the Author

I wanted to say a little more about the title of the novel ABUNDANCE. In the 18th century there were a number of icons, like depictions of the four seasons, that were often used in garden statues, in paintings, even for Vivaldi in music. Likewise, the 18th century often depicted Abundance in an allegorical fashion, often with a figure for Peace. In a painting by Vigee LeBrun, for example, she shows "Peace Bringing Back Abundance." The marriage of MA was supposed to help bring Peace to Europe (by smoothing over hostilities between Austria and France), and Peace was supposed to introduce a time of Plenty or Abundance. The cornucopia represents Abundance also, as does the figure of a nursing mother. Ironically, MA's marriage lead eventually to anything but Peace--to the violence of the French Revolution out of which came the rise of Napoleon and a new round of European warfare.
I think MA eventually learned that Abundance of the spirit is more valuable than any material sort of abundance could ever be. I think all of us can live out of a sense of Abundance, that there is enough to go around.
Wordsmith
Fozzie
Posts: 2,404
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Seamstress Sighting

When MA is giving birth, she notices the little seamstress.

"I see the little seamstress among them, but her name is gone from my weary mind." (pg. 307)

I was worried when I read of her presence, fearing the danger she might represent.
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
Author
SenaJeterNaslund
Posts: 67
Registered: ‎08-01-2007
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Re: Seamstress Sighting

The custom in the 18th century of allowing just about anybody into the birthing room to witness the royal event is pretty scary to me. Men had to be wearing a sword to come into the chateau of Versailles, but they could rent one at the entrance! There were so many people present that poor Antoinette could hardly breathe. Gradually, as she gave birth she asked that not so many people be present, and the King complied. The first time about two hundred people crowded as close as they could. Antoinette looked up and saw that two total strangers had managed to climb on top of a clothes wardrobe--to get the best possible view.




Fozzie wrote:
When MA is giving birth, she notices the little seamstress.

"I see the little seamstress among them, but her name is gone from my weary mind." (pg. 307)

I was worried when I read of her presence, fearing the danger she might represent.


Wordsmith
Fozzie
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Public Birthing



SenaJeterNaslund wrote:
There were so many people present that poor Antoinette could hardly breathe. Gradually, as she gave birth she asked that not so many people be present, and the King complied. The first time about two hundred people crowded as close as they could. Antoinette looked up and saw that two total strangers had managed to climb on top of a clothes wardrobe--to get the best possible view.









This is truly unimaginable to me! Thank goodness that the King does listen to her reasonable request and she is granted more privacy.
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
Frequent Contributor
viva2
Posts: 35
Registered: ‎08-05-2007
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Re: Questions for the Author

The Queen shows amazing awareness in the following quote from page 428, regarding 27 June 1789:

"Yet tomorrow I know they may wish to imprison us, or worse. Their addiction is to intensity, be it love or hate."

She refers to members of the Third Estate who had come to sprinkle holy water on the coffin of Louis Joseph. They then cheered the royal family on the balcony.

Her reference to the crowd's addiction to intensity, for me harks back to her own intense addiction to the excitement of gambling, and shows an insight that takes my breath away. For her to have such understanding of the psychology of crowds/mobs seems to be ahead of her time.

How were you able to place her comment on 27 June 1798?

This seems to be a turning point in her awareness, or is she still partly in denial, as she was at the warning of the Abbe de Veri, regarding Charles I, which she seemed only partly to understand and accept?

Is it an accumulation of advice from those like Fersen, Mercy, her brother? Or is it the remarkable nine days preceding the 27th of June?

It must be cumulative, but so far this one is the most arresting comment she has made regarding her own understanding of the volatility of crowds. It is such a strong foreshadowing of her tragic future. Brilliant.
jd
Frequent Contributor
jd
Posts: 326
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
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Re: Public Birthing

Many people were present throughout all of the king and queen's lives while doing many mundane things. (not to make childbirth mundane) Daily dressing and hair preparation etc., were all observed by those attending court, including dignitaries. Birth was just another such event. I have given birth and I can honestly say that those in attendance wanted to leave the room. :smileyhappy: -jd
Contributor
driamaria
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Seamstress Sighting



Fozzie wrote:
When MA is giving birth, she notices the little seamstress.

"I see the little seamstress among them, but her name is gone from my weary mind." (pg. 307)

I was worried when I read of her presence, fearing the danger she might represent.




I had wondering about that too, both in the literary way you've described and also in a historical context, in how did she get to view a royal birth? Which also brings me to - how awkward and uncomfortable would giving birth in front of 200 people be? Sounds terrible.
Contributor
driamaria
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for the Author

I have more questions for anyone who desires to answer:

1. It's mentioned that Yolande and family are being paid/given a million livres a year. Does anyone know what this would equate to in today's dollars?

2. When MA attends court, what exactly is she doing? It sounds like she sits and listens to whoever has shown up and wishes to speak. If that's the case, does she do anything about what people say? Are commoners allowed in?

3. There's a number of references to Mozart and his performance in Austria, and upon the completion of his performance, him running and hugging MA's mother. Can anyone explain what this is about in the historical setting? Also, any thoughts on what this means literally? I see it as a sign of jealously and longing on MA's part. That MA's mother was displaying affection toward a child, however, that child wasn't her.
Author
SenaJeterNaslund
Posts: 67
Registered: ‎08-01-2007
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Re: Questions for the Author

I'm glad you liked this moment in Antoinette's development. Yes, she did know something about addiction to intensity because of her own absorption by gambling. Actually, her mother wrote her a letter about it and tried to make her see the danger. While she didn't pay much attention at the time, it was such a strong clear statement that I felt it would be part of what helped her to understand later on.
There is a sad moment at her trial when she almost gets the sympathy of the women in the courtroom, but unfortunately their addiction at the moment had to do with being passive but very curious spectators. The mood was to see what would have next, rather than to be involved.




viva2 wrote:
The Queen shows amazing awareness in the following quote from page 428, regarding 27 June 1789:

"Yet tomorrow I know they may wish to imprison us, or worse. Their addiction is to intensity, be it love or hate."

She refers to members of the Third Estate who had come to sprinkle holy water on the coffin of Louis Joseph. They then cheered the royal family on the balcony.

Her reference to the crowd's addiction to intensity, for me harks back to her own intense addiction to the excitement of gambling, and shows an insight that takes my breath away. For her to have such understanding of the psychology of crowds/mobs seems to be ahead of her time.

How were you able to place her comment on 27 June 1798?

This seems to be a turning point in her awareness, or is she still partly in denial, as she was at the warning of the Abbe de Veri, regarding Charles I, which she seemed only partly to understand and accept?

Is it an accumulation of advice from those like Fersen, Mercy, her brother? Or is it the remarkable nine days preceding the 27th of June?

It must be cumulative, but so far this one is the most arresting comment she has made regarding her own understanding of the volatility of crowds. It is such a strong foreshadowing of her tragic future. Brilliant.


Author
SenaJeterNaslund
Posts: 67
Registered: ‎08-01-2007
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Re: Public Birthing

It was an established custom to watch royalty give birth. The idea was that the divine right to rule really did pass through the blood line and people had a right to be sure this was a legitimate royal child, not a substitute for a child who might have been still born.

More awful to me was their fascination with watching very bloody executions, almost as entertainment.



jd wrote:
Many people were present throughout all of the king and queen's lives while doing many mundane things. (not to make childbirth mundane) Daily dressing and hair preparation etc., were all observed by those attending court, including dignitaries. Birth was just another such event. I have given birth and I can honestly say that those in attendance wanted to leave the room. :smileyhappy: -jd


Author
SenaJeterNaslund
Posts: 67
Registered: ‎08-01-2007
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Re: Seamstress Sighting

I couldn't agree more, Fozzie. It would really take a lot of nerve and courage, but it was expected of Antoinette and so she did it, although she did request that subsequent births be less open to the public.
Author
SenaJeterNaslund
Posts: 67
Registered: ‎08-01-2007
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Re: Questions for the Author

You mentioned that the time when Mozart visited and played the harpsichord was haunting to Antoinette. I agree that she was jealous of the approval, admiration, attention the other child, about her own age, received. Antoinette was fairly neglected by her mother whom she very much wanted to please, but the Empress had so many children--14--and worked so hard for the state that she really did not have a lot to give Antoinette. Besides, since she was the 10th daughter, it was thought she would never be in line to marry anybody very important. It mujst have made Antoinette feel unimportant herself.
Wordsmith
Fozzie
Posts: 2,404
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for the Author

One last question...

Can you tell us what you are working on now?
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
Contributor
driamaria
Posts: 13
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for the Author

I have a few more questions: Has anyone seen any pictures of either MA or other women of the time where their hair is showing one of the ornaments that MA spoke about having put into her hairstyle? Some of these hair pieces sound almost like an entire diarama in the wearer's hair. I'd be curious to see exactly how large/ornate we are talking. Also, on p.513, MA says that she puts her son into a leather and steel harness - anyone know what this is/what it's for?
Contributor
driamaria
Posts: 13
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for the Author

One final question from me - what all was involved in the ritual of the cocher? MA says that they are behind schedule by a couple hours when they are escaping in the berlin due to the lenth of her and Louis' couchers. Just wondering what bedtime ritual could possibly take so long.
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