…an admittedly odd way to begin a journey.
Let’s be perfectly clear about one thing. Marie Antoinette, whatever her other faults might have been, at no time said, “Let them eat cake.”
Unfortunately for the late Queen of France, the slander campaign against her was so well conceived and executed (excuse the pun) that she’s had to endure a bad rep and the famous misquote ever since.
In her Author’s Note in her biography of the infamous Queen, Antonia Fraser says: “…hindsight can make bad history. …I have attempted, at least so far as humanly possible, to tell Marie Antoinette’s dramatic story without anticipating its terrible ending.” [p. 13/14]
All in all, very difficult to do, apparently even for Fraser, who occasionally slips into omniscient anticipation of that awful end.
Oddly enough, this idea about NOT anticipating the end got me thinking about romance. And not because Marie Antoinette’s and Louis’s started off so badly. Her life was certainly no fairy tale.
But because really, a reader who picks up a romance anticipates the fact that somehow, someway, the couple will achieve a Happily Ever After ending, doesn’t she?
That HEA, then, is the icing on the cake (sorry, I can’t seem to help myself). To continue the metaphor, then the cake is the sumptuously layered journey enclosed inside that decadent frosting. (Chocolate, of course)
Romance readers read romance because they’re looking for that list of secret ingredients that create a Happily Ever After ending.
This means, as romance writers, it’s our job to concoct the best possible recipe.