Marie Antoinette's Gossip Guide to the 18th Century

November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving: American Landscapes

Hill, John, 1770-1850. Fairmount Water Works (Philadelphia). ca. 1825, Intaglio print. Philadelphia Museum of Art.

These 19th century landscapes of the U.S. countrysides are beautiful!

November 25, 2014

18th-Century Inspired #Giveaway: The Time-Traveling Fashionista at the Palace of Marie Antoinette

I was recently in touch with Bianca Turetsky, the author of the Time-Traveling Fashionista Series. This book series follows 12 year old Louise Lambert who discovers she can visit different periods in history.  The second book, The Time-Traveling Fashionista at the Palace of Marie Antoinette, takes Louise back to 18th century France.

This series is a really fun way to introduce the places, the people and the events that occurred in history to young readers.  I enjoyed the book from cover to cover and had a few questions for Bianca.  Checkout her mini-interview below and my review of the book.


In celebration of the season and finding wonderful 18th-century inspired gifts, please enter a giveaway chance for one copy of  The Time-Traveling Fashionista at the Palace of Marie Antoinette available by leaving a comment stating what intrigues you about this book, or who you would like to be if you were transported back to the 18th century by 11:59 pm, Wednesday, December 3, 2014.

You are welcome to enter additional entries through the Giveaway Widget below!  Winners will be announced on Thursday, December 4, 2014. Shipment to US addresses.

How to Enter:

For this giveaway I am using the giveaway widget below. It allows extra entries which is pretty cool (and keeps everything organized pour moi!)

  1. Simply enter by email or your Facebook account 
  2. Leave your comment stating what intrigues you about this book, or who you would like to be if you were transported back to the 18th century on this post! 
  3. Use the giveaway widget below for additional entries

Once you have entered there are several options for extra entries you will be presented with (like this post,  tweet, share, follow... the usual!) Just pick and choose any you want. The giveaway widget will track how many times you have entered.

Good luck to all!

Interview with the author!
Louise gets to experience what I know myself and countless others have only dreamed at the court of Marie Antoinette!  What was your favorite scene to write about (dream up)? Such as - A trip to 18th century Paris? The lavish party at Versailles? Louise discovering Petit Trianon?

BT: My favorite scene to dream up was definitely the lavish party sequence. After visiting Versailles for research (with my research assistant/grandma :) ), I couldn’t help but fantasize about what the palace would be like in full swing-- walking through the candlelit corridors, the music, decadent food, dancing, and of course the fabulous fashion. Since the reality of that ever happening to me is pretty slim, imaging it will have to do. And seeing my illustrator Sandra Suy’s gorgeous renderings of the party was almost as good! Starting with the process of picking out a dress and getting made-up before the evening would be such a treat. The tricky part was telling it from a 12-year old perspective. My character Louise was definitely not drinking any champagne, and many of these parties were all about excess...

Robe à l'Anglaise, 1770-75, Silk, metallic. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Robe à la française, 1760-70, Silk, cotton. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

Which 18th century gown do you like the best? The Robe à l'anglaise or the Robe à la français?

Ooh I love that question, no one has ever asked me that before! I actually wish that was a decision I had to make in my real life. They are both so beautiful and special, and far superior to anything hanging in my closet that it’s hard to choose, but if I had to, I would say the Robe a la Francais. I love the fabrics, the detail, the cut, the pleats down the back.

If you had the chance to travel back to the 18th century, who would you like to be and why?

One of the main themes in my books is that there’s no place like home. Louise is constantly lost in daydreams wishing she were living in another more fabulous era, but once she’s there she realizes that life was a little more dangerous and difficult in the past, and of course she misses her iPhone. I feel the same way, the 18th century would be fun to visit, but I don’t think I’d like to stay… But I wouldn’t mind being a confidante of Marie Antoinette in the royal court, pre-revolution of course.

We love gossip here! Did you come across any interesting bits of gossip/history in your research that you loved but did not include in the book?

One thing that was really surprising and fascinating to me was that thanks to Louis XV’s love of animals (cats in particular) Versailles was like a zoo. Packs of cats, dogs, monkeys, birds basically had free reign of the palace, and I can only imagine how chaotic and filthy that would have been. I remember a detail from Antonia Fraser’s incredible Marie Antoinette book about how the monkey of one of the princesses went wild in her changing room and dressed itself up in powder and rouge to imitate her. The fully made-up monkey then ran around the dining room much to the royal court’s horror. I personally think that would have been pretty funny. 

My Review
Title: The Time-Traveling Fashionista at The Palace of Marie Antoinette
Author: Bianca Turetsky
Age Range: 8+ years
Grade Level: 3 - 7
Series: The Time-Traveling Fashionista (Book 2)
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Poppy
ISBN-13: 978-0316105385

Louise Lambert is an ordinary Jr. High School student who just recently discovered a cool vintage clothing shop in town. This series follows Louise through the new adventured she fines herself in. I have read book #2, At The Palace of Marie Antoinette. The book stands on its own, and at no point in the story did I find myself lost or confused.

Louise finds herself visiting a mysterious vintage shop by special invitation. This is her second visit. I quickly picked up that in book one she makes her first trip to the sale and finds a lovely pink dress. I was instantly wondering what dress she would find in this book!

She believes that the dresses have the power to send her time travelling. And when she spies a dress in eh style of an 18th-century robe à la français and she knows she has to try it on. After all, styles changed so quickly in this period of history!

Louise noticed everything, her attention to detail helps her navigate the 18th century world she wakes up in. She meets a full cast of characters including the Princesse Lamballe, King Louis XVs daughter Adelaide, Louis August, Rose Bertin and Marie Antoinette.

She discovers the inner-workings of the Palace of Versailles, experiences the demanding etiquette and customs installed by the Sun King, and she gets a taste of the food and night life at Versailles. In what may be my favorite scene she gets to take a trip outside Versailles to shop in Paris. But 21st-century Louise is not sure she likes or even understands what she sees in the city streets of pre-revolutionary France.

There are some fun bumps along the way as Louise enjoys her visit and tries to help her new friends out. There is also some tension between some of the ladies and when she discovers who she is, the one and only Duchesse de Polignac, she realizes she may not be liked by all.

I suggest this book for young readers 10 and up. I thought the book was charming and was whisked away to Petit Trianon with Louise and found myself wondering what would I do in that same situation. While you and I might have a better chance of handing her situations, poor Louise hasn't yet studied the French Revolution! Stressful situations ensue. It really is an exciting adventure.
 The Time-Traveling Fashionista at the Palace of Marie Antoinette

November 11, 2014

A Description of Paris in the 18th Century

A description of Paris between the years 1787-1789.

November 02, 2014

Did you watch Death Comes to Pemberley? [poll]

a carriage goes by at Chatsworth House

You know George Wickham was always a rascal....

PBS just aired Death Comes to Pemberley in the US which was based on the murder mystery novel by P.D. James.  The two episode mini-series concluded tonight.  Nothing really stood out to me when I read the book but....

October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween! Fun tips for dressing up in 18th-century fashion

Bail, Franck-Antoine, Cutting the Pumpkin. 1910, oil on canvas. Private Collection. Bridgeman Education. 
Happy Halloween! 

What are your plans for this weekend? Anyone dressing up? I was invited to one party but still have no costume sorted out.