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Bill_T
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Questions for the Author

This where you can post your questions for Sena -- want to know about her research or inspiration for Abundance? Here's the place to ask!
jd
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jd
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Re: Questions for the Author

Ms. Naslund how long did it take you to ferret out the research on this book? -jd
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ukduchess
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Re: Questions for the Author

I was wondering if the letters in the book were taken from actual correspondance between Marie and family and friends or were they created only for the book?
"I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library."

— Jorge Luis Borges
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Fozzie
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Re: Questions - Page 51 of Hardcover

Are the signatures on page 51 of the hardcover, those of Louis, Louis Auguste, and Marie Antoinette, reproduced from actual signatures on the marriage contract? I assume that they are because you had MA mention the blob of ink she created. It must have been fascinating to see the contract, or even a copy.
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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Fozzie
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Re: Questions - A Couple of Historical Tidbits From Act One

Two tidbits caught my eye:

"My mother saw to it that her children were inoculated, and because I trusted her with all my heart, I was glad to allow the slit to be cut in my arm and for the string that had been dipped in the pus of a sick person to be laid inside my flesh." (pg. 72 hardcover)

"Your teeth are a major aspect of making a good impression, and you will recall that before you left Austria, we spent much time with them in straightening wires, ..." (pg. 78 hardcover)

I love reading these little tidbits in historical fiction. Where do you find such items? Maybe the second passage was from an actual letter.
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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SenaJeterNaslund
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Re: Questions for the Author

I started with the mere curiosity reading of the Stefan Zweig biography from the 1930's in December 1999, when I was on book tour with Ahab's Wife and staying at a bed and breakfast in Darian, GA. But the next novel I wrote was FOUR SPIRITS, which required its own research into the American civil rights era, and was published in 2003. At that point I really began researching the MA story and also visiting places where she had lived.





jd wrote:
Ms. Naslund how long did it take you to ferret out the research on this book? -jd


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SenaJeterNaslund
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Re: Questions for the Author

The letters are drawn from historical records, but they're not quoted verbatim. I chose to combine letters sometimes, or to skip the parts I found less interesting. I needed the letters to follow the plot lines that comprised the structure of my novel. I was interested, for example, in MA's refusal to speak to Madame du Barry, the favorite mistress of the old king Louis XV, because MA considered her immoral. The marital relationship between MA and her own husband was also of great personal and public importance. How she related to her mother also helped to establish the kind of person MA was. All of that is quite accurately represented, historically speaking.





ukduchess wrote:
I was wondering if the letters in the book were taken from actual correspondance between Marie and family and friends or were they created only for the book?


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SenaJeterNaslund
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Re: Questions - Page 51 of Hardcover

Yes, I thought readers would enjoy seeing a photocopying of their actual signatures, including the blot. Antoinette's education had been neglected and it was discovered only when she was being considered as a mate for the future king of France that she could not read or write in any language. She was not stupid; she conversed very well, but she was not well taught.




Fozzie wrote:
Are the signatures on page 51 of the hardcover, those of Louis, Louis Auguste, and Marie Antoinette, reproduced from actual signatures on the marriage contract? I assume that they are because you had MA mention the blob of ink she created. It must have been fascinating to see the contract, or even a copy.


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SenaJeterNaslund
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Re: Questions - A Couple of Historical Tidbits From Act One

It's true that MA was inoculated and that her teeth were straightened. It must have been scary and painful. Because there's no record of how Antoinette felt about these proceedures, I applied her general attitude of trusting her mother to Antoinette over this issue; certainly, Antoinette believed in inoculation because she did encourage her husband and his brothers to be inoculated as adults. Smallpox was quite the scourg at that time, but I knew methods of primitive inoculating were being used in George Washington's time, which was also MA's time. I was more surprised to read in biographies--Antonia Fraser mentions it--about the orthodontia.





Fozzie wrote:
Two tidbits caught my eye:

"My mother saw to it that her children were inoculated, and because I trusted her with all my heart, I was glad to allow the slit to be cut in my arm and for the string that had been dipped in the pus of a sick person to be laid inside my flesh." (pg. 72 hardcover)

"Your teeth are a major aspect of making a good impression, and you will recall that before you left Austria, we spent much time with them in straightening wires, ..." (pg. 78 hardcover)

I love reading these little tidbits in historical fiction. Where do you find such items? Maybe the second passage was from an actual letter.


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marcialou
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Re: Questions - Page 51 of Hardcover


SenaJeterNaslund wrote:
Antoinette's education had been neglected and it was discovered only when she was being considered as a mate for the future king of France that she could not read or write in any language. .






I find it astonishing that she was unable to read, given how educated her mother must have been to rule Austria. I have 2 questions:

1. We know the Dauphin was an avid reader of philosophy and history. Did he receive much formal training to prepare him to be King?

2. Did you come across any quotes from Benjamin Franklin about what he thought of MA and the French Court/ system of government. Was he astute enough to see the Revolution coming?

Marcia
jd
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jd
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Re: Questions - Page 51 of Hardcover

In June 1778 John Adams ate dinner with the King and Queen and several others and wrote that the Queen was too beautiful for him to describe with a pen. One of the court ladies told him that she was dressed in diamonds worth 18 million livres. (John Adams by David McCullough, page 203)
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marcialou
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Re: Questions - Page 51 of Hardcover


jd wrote:
she was dressed in diamonds worth 18 million livres.




That's a lot of bling!

That leads to another question: how much did her extravagance contribute to the bankruptcy of France? The book suggests that the participation in the American Revolution was the major cause of the deficit. How did the war expenditures compare what it took to run Versailles and other Royal residences? What proportion of these expenditures were caused by Marie Antointette?

In other words, had MA been less extravagant, would it have made a sizeable difference towards reducing the deficit?

Marcia
jd
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jd
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Re: Questions - Page 51 of Hardcover

Frances nat'l debt was 187 million dollars at the end of the American Rev, some of that a direct cost of the war and loans to the US. Her extravagance contributed to it but was not the cause. She happened to have bad PR and not very good sense, probably attributed to her youth and seclusion. If you have a job and position by divine right it is hard to believe you have to make people like you, (maybe) - jd Wikipedia has lots of info about MA and French rev. and Amer. rev - jd
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SenaJeterNaslund
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Re: Questions - Page 51 of Hardcover

France was in bad economic shape before MA and Louis XVI came to the throne. When Louis XV's personal strong box was opened at his death there was very little in it, and the debt was enormous. MA spent less on her wardrobe than Madame d Barry, the mistress of Louis XV spent on just her lace. MA did spend a lot--certainly wildly extravagant by ordinary standards, but in comparison to what other royal ladies spent, she was less extravagant. She did reject some gifts as too expensive, but the Hameau was a new project, all her idea, that cost a lot. Of course there were many causes--the American revolution was important. If the nobles and the clergy had been willing to pay more taxes instead of letting the burden continue to fall mainly on those less able to pay, perhaps the revolution could have been avoided. But certainly the rise of the common man and independence from tyranny were ideas whose time had come. You might enjoy reading Simon Schama's CITIZENS for a thorough exploration of your question.





marcialou wrote:

jd wrote:
she was dressed in diamonds worth 18 million livres.




That's a lot of bling!

That leads to another question: how much did her extravagance contribute to the bankruptcy of France? The book suggests that the participation in the American Revolution was the major cause of the deficit. How did the war expenditures compare what it took to run Versailles and other Royal residences? What proportion of these expenditures were caused by Marie Antointette?

In other words, had MA been less extravagant, would it have made a sizeable difference towards reducing the deficit?

Marcia


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SenaJeterNaslund
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Re: Questions - Page 51 of Hardcover

Thanks for your imput.
Sena
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Fozzie
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Re: The Generale

OK, I just have to ask...

Did MA and her mother call their monthly periods "the Generale" or was this term one of your own invention?

Because you include its use in letters, and I know you have read their letters, I am even more curious.

One example is on page 122 of the hardback, in the chapter The Empress's Reply.
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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driamaria
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Re: Questions for the Author

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....
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marcialou
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Re: Questions for the Author

[ Edited ]
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
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Fozzie
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Re: Questions for the Author



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).
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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marcialou
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Re: Questions for the Author

Laura,

You are right about the mysterious booted girl being the sister of the postillion. She shows up throughout the book in different roles. She seems more like a literary device than a real person. This will be interesting to track. Sena, I trust you will tell us in the end if we've figured it out.

Marcia
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