Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette

Paperback

By (author) Antonia Fraser

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  • Publisher: Phoenix (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd )
  • Format: Paperback | 640 pages
  • Dimensions: 126mm x 196mm x 46mm | 481g
  • Publication date: 30 May 2002
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 075381305X
  • ISBN 13: 9780753813058
  • Illustrations note: 48
  • Sales rank: 28,392

Product description

The major movie about the legendary French queen, directed by Sofia Coppola, is based on this book by bestselling historian Antonia Fraser. Marie Antoinette's dramatic life-story continues to arouse mixed emotions. To many people, she is still 'la reine mechante', whose extravagance and frivolity helped to bring down the French monarchy; her indifference to popular suffering epitomised by the (apocryphal) words: 'let them eat cake'. Others are equally passionate in her defence: to them, she is a victim of misogyny. Antonia Fraser examines her influence over the king, Louis XVI, the accusations and sexual slurs made against her, her patronage of the arts which enhanced French cultural life, her imprisonment, the death threats made against her, rumours of lesbian affairs, her trial (during which her young son was forced to testify to sexual abuse by his mother) and her eventual execution by guillotine in 1793.

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Author information

Antonia Fraser is the author of many widely acclaimed historical works, including the biographies MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS (a 40th anniversary edition was published in May 2009), CROMWELL: OUR CHIEF OF MEN, KING CHARLES II and THE GUNPOWDER PLOT (CWA Non-Fiction Gold Dagger; St Louis Literary Award). She has written five highly praised books which focus on women in history, THE WEAKER VESSEL: WOMEN'S LOT IN SEVENTEENTH CENTURY ENGLAND (Wolfson Award for History, 1984), THE WARRIOR QUEENS: BOADICEA'S CHARIOT, THE SIX WIVES OF HENRY VIII, MARIE ANTOINETTE: THE JOURNEY (Franco-British Literary Prize 2001), which was made into a film by Sofia Coppola in 2006 and most recently LOVE AND LOUIS XIV: THE WOMEN IN THE LIFE OF THE SUN KING. She was awarded the Norton Medlicott Medal by the Historical Association in 2000. Antonia Fraser was made DBE in 2011 for her services to literature. Her most recent book is MUST YOU GO?, celebrating her life with Harold Pinter, who died on Christmas Eve 2008. She lives in London. Visit Antonia Fraser's website at www.antoniafraser.com

Review quote

That fatal combination of a magnificent story, magnificently well told. It's the perfect book in which to lose yourself when you can afford to do nothing else for a day or so. -- Lucy Worsley WAITROSE WEEKEND

Editorial reviews

A biography of a queen who never said, as legend has it, "Let them eat cake." Novelist and historian Fraser ("Faith and Treason", 1996, etc.) manages to turn this spoiled, not-too-bright princess into a likable character. Pretty Marie was raised to further the Hapsburg family's political ambitions, as defined by her dominating mother, Empress Maria Theresa of Austria-Hungary. Fraser presents her subject's childhood, full of dancing but short on books, as a smaller version of the proving grounds she would inhabit for the rest of her life. She fought her brothers and sisters for the time and attention of their mother; married to King Louis XVI, she vied to increase her power at Versailles; as a prisoner in the Tower, she fought for survival according to the rules of the Revolutionary Tribunal. At each of these challenges, she failed. For years, Marie's position at court was undermined by the king's refusal to have sex (or at least proper sex) with her. When she finally fulfilled her function and bore an heir, 11 years after marriage, France was already in the financial crisis that would lead to the convening of the Estates-General and, later, the Revolution. If she had been a more successful plotter, Antoinette may have saved her life and the lives of her children. But skeletons from past court intrigues-most involved the Queen's enemies taking advantage of her-as well as inaction on the part of her brother, Joseph II, the Holy Roman Emperor, led her to the guillotine. For a brief few years, Antoinette did have a heyday, though. After the birth of her son, she made a splash by abandoning the elaborate dresses and makeup that marked Versailles, a bold move for the leading figure of world fashion in the late-18th century. While Antoinette never made the oft-repeated line to peasants seeking bread, she was a spendthrift, a trait that helped do her in when the revolutionary lawyers made their case against her. Antoinette's story isn't really a tragedy-but Fraser somehow makes it seem like one. (Kirkus Reviews)