Cake Walk

Marie Antoinette gets her due in a new novel.

Talk about timing. With Sofia Coppola's flashy biopic Marie Antoinette hitting screens next week and a recent PBS doc, the long-dead French monarch is a hot Hollywood property. Now Kentucky Poet Laureate Sena Jeter Naslund fictionalizes Antoinette's story in Abundance: A Novel of Marie Antoinette. "She's an exciting subject," says Naslund. "Her story is like a reverse fairytale."

Abundance takes a few liberties with history, including invented dialogue, but the main events were thoroughly researched. "I tried to be scrupulous about the facts, but still see the story from her perspective," says Naslund. "I tried to make the way she's thinking consistent with the sorts of things she's written in her letters." Naslund — whose 1999 bestseller, Ahab's Wife, was a look at Moby-Dick's fanatical captain through the eyes of his spouse — says that Antoinette oftens gets a bad rap. "She was actually quite a compassionate person," Naslund says. "She was a convenient scapegoat. She never would have been so callous as to say, ‘Let them eat cake.'"
Thu., Oct. 12, 7 p.m.