‘Power is not something you are given. Power is something you take. When you are a woman, it is a little more difficult, that’s all’
1768. Charlotte, daughter of the Habsburg Empress, arrives in Naples to marry a man she has never met. Her sister Antoine is sent to France, and in the mirrored corridors of Versailles they rename her Marie Antoinette.
The sisters are alone, but they are not powerless. When they were only children, they discovered a book of spells – spells that work, with dark and unpredictable consequences.
In a time of vicious court politics, of discovery and dizzying change, they use the book to take control of their lives.
But every spell requires a sacrifice. And as love between the sisters turns to rivalry, they will send Europe spiralling into revolution.
Brimming with romance, betrayal, and enchantment, The Embroidered Book reimagines a dazzling period of history as you have never seen it before.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 49 members
The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield
1768. Charlotte arrives in Naples to marry a man she has never met. Two years later, her sister Antoine is sent to France to marry another stranger. In the mirrored corridors of Versailles, they rename her Marie Antoinette.
But the sisters are not powerless. When they were only children, Charlotte and Antoine discovered a book of spells – spells that seem to work, with dark and unpredictable consequences.
I really enjoy books where fact and fiction are mixed up and the result is a fantastic book that enchanted me from start to finish. A joy.
An alternative interpretation of eighteenth century history, concerning Marie Antoinette of France, and Charlotte, Queen of Naples. Magic is real and sacrifices must be made to attain it, in this reality. I really enjoyed this alternative view of history, and would recommend highly. A fascinating read.
Power, Politics and Enchantment
Charlotte and Antonia, younger daughters of Maria Theresa of Habsburg are destined for politically advantageous marriages. Charlotte goes to Naples, where she learns to wield power and magic to hold the country for her brutish husband Ferdinand. Antonia is sent to France, renamed Marie Antoinette and married to the Dauphin, the future Louis XVI. Thrown into the courtly factions and unyielding traditions she uses magic to keep her head above water and her feet off the ground (literally, I loved the floating shoes). The sisters are self-taught sorceresses, using spells from a book left behind by a murdered governess, and in the chaos that is Eighteenth Century Europe, they need every iota of magic they can acquire.
This was a book that ticked absolutely all my boxes.
Historically accurate, set in the eighteenth century amidst all the wars, scheming, politics and revolution that built the world we live in today? Tick.
Magic that was seamlessly part of the everyday world, even when controlled and hidden, which felt both realistic and workable? Tick.
Relationships between families, sisters as rivals and friends, and friends as close as sisters? Tick.
Betrayal and sorrow? Tick.
Things to look up as I went, and the feeling that not only had I enjoyed a good, satisfying read, but that I had actually learnt something as well? Big tick.
Of course, the disadvantage of something based on real history is that you know how it ends, and I was worried that I might find the latter part of the book a bit too doom-laden. Instead, there was some gentleness to the inevitable, and a genuinely surprising plot twist in the penultimate chapter, which I absolutely will not give away.
I stayed up very late reading this. Having read the first half over a few days, I found myself unable to put it down as the tension mounted in the second half of the book. I was completely absorbed and it is by no means a small novel. I dreamt of volcanoes and baking bread last night, and this morning I am struggling to choose my next read because nothing else will take me back to that world.
I had an advance reader copy of this as an ebook, thanks to Netgalley and Harper Collins UK. It has a release date of February 2022, when I will have to buy a copy (hopefully with that lush cover) so that I can put it on my keeper shelf.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an e-copy of this book.
This is one of those books you just want to dive into and wallow in! The story is both historical and magical and this works so well in telling this long story of two sisters, their kingdoms and their destinies. I know nothing about the history of this time, so have no idea of the accuracy here, but it is detailed and feels well researched. And I loved the introduction of magic, its secrecy and behind the scenes influence.
I enjoyed reading both sisters' stories, as they tried to gain some control in lives which were mapped out in advance. All the characters were well drawn though, and I also liked how Ferdinand wasn't just a one-dimensional oaf but was portrayed as a loving and playful father. This book has made me want to find out more about these characters, and to read more books by this author.
I loved this book. it was well written with great characters and an intriguing and vividly rich in detail storyline that left me breathless. I loved that it contained real historical figures with an alternative story making up their history. It was gripping and I was living their story with them on the page. I loved it.
Book review: The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield 5⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
I ended 2021 with a bang because OMG this book was good. Thank you so much to @harpervoyager_uk and Netgalley for this e-ARC.
This story is set in 18th century Europe where the Austrian Habsburgs are spread around the continent under the lead of their mother and Empress Maria Theresa. During this time she used her children to secure the monarchy, which is why our two main characters are being send off to marry. These two daughters are Charlotte and Antoine, later Marie Carolina and Marie Antoinette.
We follow them as they are little children discovering the Embroidered Book🪡📖 that their governess left behind before she was found dead. Inside the book are spells, and the two sisters are using the spells to get little control over their lives.
When they are old enough they are send off to their respective marriages. Charlotte becomes Queen of Naples and Antoine Queen of France.
This book is very character driven which I loved. Both sisters have very different characters and I really rooted for both of them. In addition I love Marie Antoinette.
Learning this part of European history in school I immediately knew where the book was going: The French Revolution. Meaning one of our main characters will get beheaded, so feeling attached to her is going to be painful. And man I dreaded the ending, because I loved these stubborn women.
"Power is not something you are given. Power is something you take. When you are a woman, it is a little more difficult, that's all."
The way magic was integrated in the novel was amazing! It alsmost felt as if it was actually part of our history. The sisters follow very different paths as Charlotte becomes part of a secret society⚖ of magicians, whereas Antoine becomes very close with the "rogues". These two settings as well as the beautiful writing style made the story feel magical and the tragedy more real.
If you love a character driven story, historical setting, tragedy, sisterly love and magic pick this one up!
I felt like this book was made for me.💗
There is only one way to describe this book and that is to say it is pure magic! I knew from the minute I opened it I was going to love it and I did. It is the history of 18th century Europe told with magic. It is so beautifully written with so much detail and with all the power and intrigue of history but dusted with a layer of dark magic too. It is just perfect.