Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette

3.9 (25,969 ratings by Goodreads)
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'Drama, betrayal, religion and sex, it's all here ...Fascinating' GUARDIAN 'Beautifully paced, impeccably written ...Don't miss it' INDEPENDENT 'Fraser is at her best here, lucid, authoritative and compassionate' SUNDAY TIMES 'Superbly researched ...the definitive work on the ill-fated queen' CATHOLIC HERALD 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.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 656 pages
  • 126 x 196 x 46mm | 480.81g
  • Orion Publishing Co
  • Phoenix (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd )
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 48
  • 075381305X
  • 9780753813058
  • 30,011

Review Text

Antonia Fraser has written an absorbing, richly detailed and pleasingly illustrated new study of the French Queen which is a careful rexamination of the stereotypical embodiment of wilful extravagance and flouncing arrogance. The 'journey' of the title, is that of the 14-year old princess from the Imperial palace in Vienna, via the Royal Court of her husband Louis XVI at Versailles to a 'squalid cell' in Paris prior to execution by guillotine, her head displayed on a spike to an uproarious crowd. There seems a terrible inevitability in the journey: Marie Antoinette was mistrusted in France from the start: vilified as 'L'Autrichienne', her task was impossible, to unite in the person of an heir the two warring nations of France and Austria. She thus became, in Antonia Fraser's judgement, 'the female scapegoat' for the ills and excesses of the Court, her extravagance legendary, though in fact modest in comparison to that of her husband and others at a court where display and the ability to dazzle equalled power. She was, Antonia Fraser concedes, frivolous, imprudent and weak, yet she was also intelligent, neither wanton, nor manipulative, and no, she never actually said 'let them eat cake' when the people asked for bread - this was an accusation flung at most 18th century foreign queens - though by 1793 had Mary Antoinette leaned from the window of her carriage and offered the starving poor a brioche, they would probably have spat on it, suspecting that it would be poisoned such was the hatred and fear of 'the royal monster'. (Kirkus UK)show more

About Antonia Fraser

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.comshow more

Review quote

Drama, betrayal, religion and sex, it's all here, adorned by often fascinating, at times esoteric detail -- Hazel Mills GUARDIAN A hugely well-researched work ... MARIE ANTOINETTE is a heroic and tragic exercise in identification DAILY TELEGRAPH This beautifully paced, impeccably written biography is destined to generate the same success as Antonia Fraser's previous work. Don't miss it -- Andrea Stuart INDEPENDENT A sparkling new biography ... Antonia Fraser writes beautifully, with impressively shrewd judgement ... This is a fine book and a very good read -- Desmond Seward DAILY MAIL In MARIE ANTOINETTE, Fraser's superb gifts of narrative, characterisation and eye for salient detail are deployed to greater effect than ever before -- Mark Bostridge INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY Fraser sets out to rescue Marie Antoinette from the shadow of the guillotine, and she does this with resounding success -- Ruth Scurr THE TIMES Fraser is at her best here, lucid, authoritative and compassionate -- Miranda Seymour SUNDAY TIMES [Fraser] has written a fine biography ... A fine and rewarding book -- Douglas Johnson SPECTATOR An authoritative, sympathetic and beautifully written life of the much maligned queen -- Charles Osborne SUNDAY TELEGRAPH A superbly researched book which will clearly become the definitive work on the ill-fated queen -- Margot Lawrence CATHOLIC HERALD 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 WEEKENDshow more

Rating details

25,969 ratings
3.9 out of 5 stars
5 32% (8,404)
4 36% (9,412)
3 24% (6,153)
2 5% (1,387)
1 2% (613)
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