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Marie Antoinette: The Journey

Marie Antoinette: The Journey

4.2 91
by Antonia Fraser

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The national bestseller from the acclaimed author of The Wives of Henry VIII.  France’s beleaguered queen, Marie Antoinette, wrongly accused of uttering the infamous “Let them eat cake,” was the subject of ridicule and curiosity even before her death; she has since been the object of debate and speculation and the fascination so


The national bestseller from the acclaimed author of The Wives of Henry VIII.  France’s beleaguered queen, Marie Antoinette, wrongly accused of uttering the infamous “Let them eat cake,” was the subject of ridicule and curiosity even before her death; she has since been the object of debate and speculation and the fascination so often accorded tragic figures in history. Married in mere girlhood, this essentially lighthearted, privileged, but otherwise unremarkable child was thrust into an unparalleled time and place, and was commanded by circumstance to play a significant role in history. Antonia Fraser’s lavish and engaging portrait of Marie Antoinette, one of the most recognizable women in European history, excites compassion and regard for all aspects of her subject, immersing the reader not only in the coming-of-age of a graceful woman, buaimedt also in the unraveling of an era.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Fascinating . . . the court at Versailles comes alive.” –The Washington Post

“Colorful, fluently narrated. . . . A touching, psychologically believable portrait.” –The Wall Street Journal

“Absorbing as ever. Fraser’s blend of insight and research persuade us that this unfortunate queen deserves neither the vilification nor the idealization she has received.” –The New Yorker

The Barnes & Noble Review
Was she a sexual predator, political meddler, wastrel, and traitor? Or was she a scapegoat for a corrupt and bankrupt nation, who went with superb dignity to the guillotine, the victim of a vindictive judicial murder? The tragic life of Marie Antoinette, rich in conflicting detail, remains a biographer's challenge, and Antonia Fraser's richly human yet evenhanded account is a reader's delight.

In 1770, Marie Antoinette, aged 14, wed the awkward 16-year-old who in 1774 became Louis XVI. The marriage was intended to strengthen the Austrian-French alliance and produce sons to continue it. Marie Antoinette was of little use in the first endeavor; she lacked political power. Louis was of only occasional help in the second; he suffered from phimosis, an inhibiting physical condition. While the pair wandered through their doomed lives, fury built up in bankrupt France, exploding in the ferocity of the Revolution.

Everybody criticized Marie, who was known both as l'Autrichienne (the Austrian woman) and l'autruche chienne (the ostrich bitch). She was regarded as extravagant ("Madame Deficit"), pro-Austrian, and childless for too long. But, as Fraser demonstrates, Versailles demanded extravagance, and in politics Marie Antoinette was more pawn than player, pushed by wily Austrian diplomats and blocked by shrewd French ministers.

Fraser draws upon a huge range of sources to present a dazzling cast. Mozart, Gluck, Jefferson, Paine, Franklin and numerous others cross her pages. Fersen, the queen's discreet, devoted Swedish lover, looms large. The author succeeds brilliantly in describing how the once-vibrant Marie and the decent, despised, and irresolute Louis transformed themselves as the Revolution took its murderous course. Love of family gave them courage; love of France gave them nobility.

The horrific fate of Marie Antoinette, physically abused by the canaille, viciously libeled by the blood-soaked false prophets of liberty who condemned her, reminds the reader of just how thin the veneer of civilization is -- and how often revolutionaries are worse than those they condemn. Excellent illustrations and an extensive bibliography add to Fraser's fine book. Enthusiasts hungry for more can try Evelyne Lever's "martyred queen" portrait (Marie Antoinette: A Biography) and Chantal Thomas's analysis (The Wicked Queen), both now available in translation. (Peter Skinner)

Peter Skinner lives in New York City.

In this stunning biography of Marie Antoinette, masterful biographer Fraser utilizes the literal trip of the 14-year-old future monarch from her native Austria to France as a metaphor for her subsequent difficulties. Even before Marie arrived in Paris, Fraser insists, she was doomed to be derided forever as "that Austrian woman." As one would expect, this five-year labor manifests Antonia Fraser's gift for gaining entrance to previously unknown archives.
Romantic Times
Fraser paints a more sympathetic portrait than some and more even-handed than others. She manages to balance Marie's life and the times to this reader's delight. Well-written and scrupulously researched.
Washington Post Book World
In the hands of a vivid writer with a flair for fascinating detail, Versailles comes alive.
Publishers Weekly
A child-princess is married off to a husband of limited carnal appetite. Her indiscretions and na vet , scorned by elderly dowagers, are coupled with charity, joie de vivre and almost divine glamour but her life is cut brutally short. The queen of France's life is rich in emotional resonance, riddled with sexual subplots and personal tragedies, and provides fertile ground for biographers. Fraser's sizable new portrait avoids the saccharine romance of Evelyne Lever's recent Marie Antoinette, balancing empathy for the pleasure-loving queen with an awareness of the inequalities that fed revolution after all, Marie herself was fully conscious of them. Her subject shows no let-them-eat cake arrogance, but is deeply (even surprisingly) compassionate, with a "public reputation for sweetness and mercy" that is only later sullied by vituperative pamphleteers and bitter unrest. She would sometimes be trapped by ingenuousness, and later by a fatal sense of duty. Yet her graceful bearing, acquired under the tutelage of her demanding mother, the empress Maria Teresa, made her an unusually popular princess before she was scapegoated as "Madame Deficit" and much, much worse. The portrait is drawn delicately, with pleasant touches of humor (a long-awaited baby is conceived around the time of Benjamin Franklin's visit: "Perhaps the King found this first contact with the virile New World inspirational"). Fraser's approach is controlled and thoughtful, avoiding the extravagance of Alison Weir's royal biographies. Her queen is neither heroine nor villain, but a young wife and mother who, in her journey into maturity, finds herself caught in a deadly vise. Color and b&w illus. It's a BOMC, History Book Club, Literary Guild and QPB selection. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Vivid prose and exhaustive research make memorable Fraser's biography of the doomed Austrian Archduchesse Maria Antonia Josepha Joanna, known as Antoine to her family and Marie Antoinette to the ages. The 15th child of Marie Theresa, Queen-Empress of Austria, and the youngest of eight sisters, all sharing the name Maria, little Antoine was to make a long and tragic journey from sheltered and ill-tutored child to 14-year-old wife of French Dauphin Louis Auguste, the future Louis XVI, to mother, to reviled and maligned queen, to a prematurely aged woman of 38, bound and shorn, being carted to the guillotine. Fraser dispels some of the more flagrant calumnies directed at the queen, such as her involvement in the affair of the Diamond Necklace, and her purported callous "let them eat cake" statement, which story, Fraser points out, was first told about the Spanish princess who married Louis IV some 100 years earlier. She makes a convincing case for Marie Antoinette's designation by the press, the politicians and Court intrigue as scapegoat not only for the ills of an economically troubled nation, but for the entire French Revolution as well. There are numerous illustrations, both b/w and color plates, genealogical charts, an abridged list of sources (which nevertheless runs to 12 pages), and an exhaustive index. Literally hundreds of books have been written about Marie Antoinette, and Fraser's contribution is a relevant, compassionate and accessible portrait of the woman. A solid as well as entertaining read. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2001, Random House, Anchor, 511p. illus. notes. bibliog. index., Boatner
Library Journal
Fraser (Mary Queen of Scots) has written an exciting biography of a young Austrian woman named Marie Antoinette, the future bride of a future king of France, during a period of increasing political unrest. This volume moves quickly, but not without the most interesting of historical detail, through the courts of Austria and France. Marie Antoinette was the bride at 14 to Louis Auguste, her senior by just over a year; they both lacked the maturity for marriage, let alone the political leadership to command a European power. Fraser leads us through the daily lives of the two young people constantly before the public eye; from the planned marriage we move into an era of political and social revolution, knowing what the final violent outcome will be yet hoping for a different end. A well-researched biography that may cause one to rethink the role in which history has cast Marie Antoinette, this complements but doesn't replace Evelyne Lever's slightly less sympathetic Marie Antoinette: The Last Queen of France. Highly recommended for academic and public libraries. Bruce H. Webb, Clarion Univ. of Pennsylvania Lib. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A biography of a queen who never said, as legend has it, "Let them eat cake." Novelist and historian Fraser (Faith and Treason) 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 worldfashion 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.

Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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Edition description:
First Anchor Books Edition
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5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.18(d)

Read an Excerpt

chapter one

A Small Archduchess

"Her Majesty has been very happily delivered of a small, but completely healthy Archduchess."

Count Khevenhuller, Court Chamberlain, 1755

On 2 November 1755 the Queen-Empress was in labour all day with her fifteenth child. Since the experience of childbirth was no novelty, and since Maria Teresa, Queen of Hungary by inheritance, Empress of the Holy Roman Empire by marriage, hated to waste time, she also laboured in another way at her papers. For the responsibilities of government were not to be lightly cast aside; in her own words: "My subjects are my first children." Finally, at about half past eight in the evening in her apartments at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Maria Teresa gave birth. It was a girl. Or, as the Court Chamberlain, Count Khevenhuller, described the event in his diary: "Her Majesty has been happily delivered of a small, but completely healthy Archduchess." As soon as was practical, Maria Teresa returned to work, signing papers from her bed.

The announcement was made by the Emperor Francis Stephen. He left his wife's bedroom, after the usual Te Deum and Benediction had been said. In the Mirror Room next door the ladies and gentlemen of the court who had the Rights of Entry were waiting. Maria Teresa had firmly ended the practice, so distasteful to the mother in labour (but still in place at the court of Versailles), by which these courtiers were actually present in the delivery room. As it was they had to content themselves with congratulating the happy father. It was not until four days later that those ladies of the court who by etiquette would formerly have been in the bedchamber were allowed to kiss the Empress. Other courtiers, including Khevenhuller, were permitted the privilege on 8 November, and a further set the next day. Perhaps it was the small size of the baby, perhaps it was the therapeutic effect of working at her papers throughout the day, but Maria Teresa had never looked so well after a delivery.

The Empress's suite of apartments was on the first floor of the so-called Leopoldine wing of the extensive and rambling Hofburg complex. The Habsburgs had lived in the Hofburg since the late thirteenth century, but this wing had originally been constructed by the Emperor Leopold I in 1660. It was rebuilt following a fire, then greatly renovated by Maria Teresa herself. It lay south-west of the internal courtyard known as In Der Burg. Swiss Guards, that doughty international force that protects royalty, gave their name to the adjacent courtyard and gate, the Schweizerhof and the Schweizertor.

The next stage in the new baby's life was routine. She was handed over to an official wet-nurse. Great ladies did not nurse their own children. For one thing, breastfeeding was considered to ruin the shape of the bosom, made so visible by eighteenth-century fashions. The philandering Louis XV openly disliked the practice for this reason. The traditional prohibition against husbands sleeping with their wives during this period probably counted for more with Maria Teresa, an enthusiast for the marital double-bed and the conception--if not the nursing--of ever increasing numbers of babies. As the Empress said of herself, she was insatiable on the subject of children.

Marie Antoinette was put into the care of Constance Weber, wife of a magistrate. Constance, according to her son Joseph Weber, who later wrote his memoirs, was famed for her beautiful figure and an even greater beauty of soul. She had been nursing little Joseph for three months when she took over the baby Archduchess, and it was understood in the family that Constance's appointment would improve all their fortunes. As the foster-brother of an archduchess, Joseph Weber benefited all his life; there were pensions for Constance as well as his other brothers and sisters. During Marie Antoinette's childhood, Maria Teresa took her to visit the Weber household; there she showered gifts upon the children and, according to Joseph, admonished Constance: "Good Weber, have a care for your son."

Maria Teresa was thirty-eight years old and since her marriage nearly twenty years earlier, she had produced four Archdukes as well as ten Archduchesses (of whom seven were living in 1755). The extraordinarily high survival rate of the imperial family--by the standards of infant mortality of the time--meant that there was no urgent pressure upon the Queen-Empress to produce a fifth son. In any case it seems that Maria Teresa had expected a daughter. One of her courtiers, Count Dietrichstein, wagered against her that the new baby would be a boy. When the appearance of a girl, said to be as like her mother as two drops of water, meant that he lost the bet, the Count had a small porcelain figure made of himself, on his knees, proffering verses by Metastasio to Maria Teresa. He may have lost his wager but if the new-born augusta figlia resembled her mother, then all the world would have gained.

If the birth of an eighth surviving daughter was not in itself a disappointment, was there not perhaps something inauspicious about the date itself, 2 November? This, the Feast of All Souls, was the great Catholic Day of the Dead, when the departed were solemnly commemorated in a series of requiem Masses, in churches and chapels heavily draped in black. What this actually meant during the childhood of Marie Antoinette was that her birthday was generally celebrated on its eve, the Feast of All Saints, a day of white and gold. Besides which, 13 June, the feast of her patron saint St. Antony, tended to be regarded as Marie Antoinette's personal day of celebration, just as the feast of St. Teresa of Avila on 15 October was the name-day of her mother.

If one looks to influences, the baby born on the sombre Day of the Dead must have been conceived on or around a far more cheerful feast of the church: 2 February, the traditionally candle-lit celebration of the Purification of the Virgin Mary. An episode during the Empress's pregnancy could also be seen as significant. In April, Christoph Willibald Gluck was engaged by Maria Teresa to compose "theatrical and chamber music" in exchange for an official salary; this followed his successes in Italy and England as well as in Vienna. A court ball at the palace of Laxenburg, fifteen miles from Vienna, on 5 May 1755, marked his inauguration in this role. Two tastes that would impress themselves upon Marie Antoinette--a love of the "holiday" palace of Laxenburg and a love of the music of Gluck--could literally be said to have been inculcated in her mother's womb.

In contrast, the fact that a colossal earthquake took place in Lisbon on 2 November, with 30,000 killed, was not at the time seen as relevant. This was an age of poor European communications and news of the disaster did not reach Vienna until some time afterwards. It was true that the King of Portugal and his wife had been engaged to stand as the coming baby's godparents; the unfortunate royal couple had to flee from their capital at about the time Marie Antoinette was born. But, once again, this was not known at the time. In any case, royalties were not expected to be present at the event; according to custom, proxies were appointed in their absence: the baby's eldest brother, Joseph, and her eldest sister, Marianne, aged fourteen and seventeen respectively.

The baptism took place at noon on 3 November (baptisms were always held speedily and in the absence of the mother, who was allowed to recover from her ordeal). The Emperor went with a cortege to the Church of the Augustine Friars, the traditional church used by the court, and heard Mass, including the sermon. After that, at twelve o'clock, as Count Khevenhuller noted in his meticulous diary, which is an important source for our knowledge of events in Maria Teresa's family, the baptism was held in "the new and beautiful Anticamera" and performed by "our Archbishop," since the new Papal Nuncio had not yet made a formal appearance at court. The imperial family sat in a row on a long bench. Two galas were ordered: a great gala for the day of the baptism, and a lesser gala for the day after. On 5 and 6 November there were two more spectacles that were shown to the public for free, and on those days there was no charge to the public for entry at the city gates. It was all a very well established ritual.

The baby in whose honour these celebrations were held was given the names Maria Antonia Josepha Joanna. The prefix of Maria had been established for all Habsburg princesses in the days of the baby's great-grandfather, the Emperor Leopold I and his third wife Eleanora of Neuburg; it was intended to signify the special veneration of the Habsburg family for the Virgin Mary. Obviously in a bevy of eight sisters (and a mother) all enjoying the same hallowed prefix, it was not going to be used for everyone all the time. In fact the new baby would be called Antoine in the family.

The French diminutive of the baptismal name, Antoine, was significant. Viennese society was multilingual, people being able to make themselves easily understood in Italian and Spanish as well as in German and French. But it was French, acknowledged as the language of civilization, that was the universal language of courts throughout Europe; Frederick II of Prussia, Maria Teresa's great rival, for example, preferred his beloved French to German. It was French that was used in diplomatic despatches to the Habsburgs. Maria Teresa spoke French, although with a strong German accent (she also spoke the Viennese dialect), but the Emperor Francis Stephen spoke French all his life, not caring to learn German. In this way, both in the family circle and outside it, Maria Antonia was quickly transmogrified into Antoine, the name she also used to sign her letters. To courtiers, the latest archduchess was to be known as Madame Antoine.

Charming, sophisticated, lazy and pleasure-loving, an inveterate womanizer who adored his wife and family, Francis Stephen of Lorraine handed on to Marie Antoinette a strong dose of French blood. His mother Elisabeth Charlotte d'Orleans had been a French royal princess and a granddaughter of Louis XIII. Her brother, the Duc d'Orleans, had acted as Regent during the childhood of Louis XV. As for Francis Stephen himself, although he had Habsburg blood on his father's side and was adopted into the Viennese court in 1723 at the age of fourteen, it was important to him that he was by birth a Lorrainer. From 1729, when his father died, he was hereditary Duke of Lorraine, a title that stretched back to the time of Charlemagne. This notional Lorrainer inheritance would also feature in the consciousness of Marie Antoinette, even though Francis Stephen was obliged to surrender the actual duchy in 1735. It was part of a complicated European deal whereby Louis XV's father-in-law, who had been dispossessed as King of Poland, received the Duchy of Lorraine for the duration of his lifetime; it then became part of the kingdom of France. In return Francis Stephen was awarded the Duchy of Tuscany.

The renunciation of his family heritage in order to soothe France was presented to Francis Stephen as part of a package that would enable him to marry Maria Teresa. On her side, it was a passionate love match. The British ambassador to Vienna reported that the young Archduchess "sighs and pines all night for her Duke of Lorraine. If she sleeps, it is only to dream of him. If she wakes, it is but to talk of him to the lady-in-waiting." Wilfully, in a way that would be in striking contradiction to the precepts she preached as a mother, Maria Teresa set her heart against a far grander suitor, the heir to the Spanish throne. The medal struck for the wedding bore the inscription (in Latin): "Having at length the fruit of our desires."

The desires in question, however, did not include the bridegroom's continued enjoyment of his hereditary possessions. As his future father-in-law Charles VI crudely put it: "No renunciation, no Archduchess." Maria Teresa of course believed in total wifely submission, at least in theory, another doctrine that she would expound assiduously to her daughters. Her solution was to tolerate and even encourage her husband's Lorrainer relations at court, as well as a multitude of Lorrainer hangers-on.

The marriage of Maria Teresa's sister Marianna to Francis Stephen's younger brother Charles of Lorraine strengthened these ties; Marianna's early death left Maria Teresa with a sentimental devotion to her widower. Then there was Francis Stephen's attachment to his unmarried sister Princess Charlotte, Abbess of Remiremont, who was a frequent visitor. She shared her brother's taste for shooting parties, in which she personally participated. In the year of Marie Antoinette's birth, a party of twenty-three, three of them ladies, killed nearly 50,000 head of game and wild deer. Princess Charlotte fired over 9000 shots, nearly as many as the Emperor. This strong-minded woman was so devoted to her native Lorraine that she once said she was prepared to travel there barefoot.

Thus Marie Antoinette was brought up to think of herself as "de Lorraine" as well as "d'Autriche et de Hongrie." In the meantime Lorraine had become a foreign principality attached to France, so that princes of Lorraine who made their lives in France had the status of "foreign princes" only and were not accorded the respect due to foreign royalties nor that due to French dukes. This ambiguous status was one from which the foreign princes ever sought to escape, while those of superior birth in French courtly terms sought to hold them down. A seemingly small point of French etiquette--small at least to outsiders--was to be of considerable significance in the future of Francis Stephen's daughter.

This was an age of multiple intermarriage where royal houses were concerned. Insofar as one can simplify it purely in terms of her four grandparents, Marie Antoinette had the blood of the Bourbons--the Orleans branch--and of Lorraine on her father's side. More remotely, her Orleans great-grandmother, a Palatine princess known as Liselotte, brought her the blood of Mary Queen of Scots via Elizabeth of Bohemia--but this was to go back 200 years. On the maternal side, Marie Antoinette inherited German blood from her grandmother Elizabeth Christina of Brunswick-Wolfbuttel, once described as "the most beautiful queen on earth." Her appearance at the age of fourteen enchanted her husband Charles VI: "Now that I have seen her, everything that has been said about her is but a shadow devoured by the light of the sun." However, if exceptional beauty was to be found in the pool of genes that Marie Antoinette might inherit, it was also true that the lovely Empress became immensely large and dropsical in later years.

From the Hardcover edition.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
“Absorbing as ever, Fraser’s blend of insight and research persuades us that this unfortunate queen deserves neither the vilification nor the idealization she has received.”
The New Yorker

“Fascinating. . .filled with thorough research, fast-paced writing and loving attention to detail.”
The Globe and Mail

Meet the Author

Antonia Fraser is the author of many internationally bestselling historical works, including Love and Louis XIVMarie Antoinette, which was made into a film by Sofia Coppola, The Wives of Henry VIIIMary Queen of ScotsFaith and Treason: The Story of the Gunpowder Plot, and Perilous Question: Reform or Revolution? Britain on the Brink, 1832. She is also the author of Must You Go? My Life with Harold Pinter. She has received the Wolfson Prize for History, the 2000 Norton Medlicott Medal of Britain’s Historical Association, and the Franco-British Society’s Enid McLeod Literary Prize. She was made a Dame of the British Empire for services to Literature in 2011

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Marie Antoinette 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 91 reviews.
mercury_falling More than 1 year ago
I've read this book twice, and think it is absolutely wonderful. I knew almost nothing about Marie Antoinette before I read it, except some of the rumors, such as the infamous "Let them eat cake" comment, which Fraser is careful to dispel. This book presents a touching portrait of a queen who fell spectacularly from grace in the eyes of her subjects, and the events that led to her fall. Fraser does not absolve Marie Antoinette of spending lavishly while her subjects went hungry, but at the same time does present reasoning and understanding so that readers may comprehend that among the nobility she was not unique in this and was following an accepted standard. Though some may accuse Fraser of being too compassionate toward the queen, I think her research and insights are dead on, and am happy to read a biography that does not justify, but works against the vilification of a queen already made infamous by slander and libel in her own time and years after her death. To me, this book gives a much fairer picture of Marie Antoinette, coupled with a harrowing glimpse of the French Revolution as it began. Very informative, a great read if you are interested in this particular time in history.
Savvy More than 1 year ago
If you read only one book about Marie Antoinette, let it be this one. And if you don't like history or nonfiction, don't let that daunt you either; even as non-fiction, this book beats all the fictionalized novels about Marie Antoinette. In this case, the real story is just as thrilling. Fraser's research is great, and the attention to detail and emotion is stronger than in most non-fiction or history books. This one is the best!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had been wanting to read this book for quite sometime, and I was thrilled when I checked it out from the library. It was a brillant book! It had everything: drama, action, tragedy, romance, and even some comedy, and it wasn't even fiction! Antonia Fraser is a fantastic writer, and I plan on reading some more of her books. Normally, I don't cry while reading a book, but this one made me tear up when Louis was forced to leave his family and be executed. Also, it makes you see Marie Antoinette, not as the spoiled, cruel, vicious adultress who seduced every man[though she did conduct one affair], but as a brave, compassionate, loyal, and wonderful person. Someone who didn't derserve to be exuecuted.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Never has a history book been so interesting. I'm usually a fan of fictional historical romance or of fiction books. But this book was so captivating that i read it in a matter of 2 weeks 'it's a pretty long book'. I was never bored reading this and i certainly learned some history
Guest More than 1 year ago
Takes a little while to get into the story. A lot of names, dates, places, etc to remember. Once Marie Antoinette settles into Versailles you start to keep up with the names and such. But this story gives Marie Antoinette a human aspect, not just a historical figure who said 'let them eat cake' (which is debunked by the way). By the time it gets to the revolution and this desperate family is trying to find ways out you really start rooting for their side. You want them to escape and get away from the mobs. I actually got teary-eyed when poor Louis XVI is carted away to the guillotine. Antoinia Fraser doesn't let Marie Antoinette get away with being the 'perfect queen' though, she was far from it. All in all a very good read and I will probably read it again. If you are going to see the Sofia Coppola movie, read this, it will clear up some historical questions you may have.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read this book over and over again. It is so well written that i not only learn about this extaordinary woman but also get lost in her world. I bought it on my Nook because my paperback was falling apart.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was inspired to read Antonia Fraser's biography of Marie Antoinette after having read Alison Weir's biography about Henry VIII and his wives. Fraser's book was a wonderful read - well researched, and very engaging. She did a good job of presenting the facts of her research while at the same time offering just enough of her own opinion or interpretation of the facts to keep the book interesting (although the straight facts were very interesting on their own.) The pictures that were included with the book were a great addition and added to the reader's ability to feel drawn into the world of Marie Antoinette and Versailles. Overall, I thought this was a wonderful book and I would highly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in historical figures.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was an excellent biography of the life of Marie Antoinette. Fraser did a great job setting the record straight on the whole 'let them eat cake' fiasco and explained the reasoning for why she is considered the biggest scapegoat of the French Revolution. If you saw the Sohpia Coppola bio-pic then you know she didn't do the queen justice.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I bought this book after first seeing the movie- which I loved!!! This book is a great read for anyone who is looking to learn about history. Admittedly it can get a little slow at times, but not so much that you lose interest in the book. It is by far one of the most interesting and well-done biographies that I have read and I truely do suggest that anyone with even a mild interest in Marie Antoinette give it a shot- and if you find the book too dry, watch the movie!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was a bit intimidating to a person who usually reads books by Janet Evanovich and J.K. Rowling but I found myself not wanting to put the book down. The author did a tremendous job of taking what is taught in grade schools and showing the other side of the story. I have visited the Versailles and have seen the money that was put into the castle versus what should have gone to the people but I can't help feeling sad and very very bothered by the outcome for the entire royal family.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Antonia Fraser's Marie Antoinette: The Journey is a very well written biography of the often misunderstood Queen. While presenting all the details, Antonia Fraser pulls the reader in to the life of this Austrian princess. Although the book is rather long, it is only a tough read, when attempting to finish it in a weekend. I highly suggest this great book to all considering it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love stories of royal families. I have read a couple biographies but this one is by far the best! It really transports you back in time to the royal court of Versailles and the beginning of the Terror in France. I really recommend this book for history fanatics like me!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Excellent study of Marie Antoinette, the ways of the French court, and the why's and wherefores of the revolution. Unlike the biography by Evelyn Lever, Ms. Fraser doesn't get bogged down in the political issues but stays focused on the French Royal family and their surrounding courtiers. Of all the bios of Marie Antoinette available today, this one is the absolute best. Highly recommended reading!!
Anonymous 4 months ago
Ive read this book a few times now. Its wonderfully written.
M_ussolini More than 1 year ago
One of the greatest biography novels I ever read. Not only is this a book about Marie Antoinette's life but it has modicum of a biography from people who were in Marie's inner circle like her husband, her best friends, her siblings, and her parents. So it's like you're reading multiple biographies of fascinating people. This book also was the most challenging book that I ever read with at least one word on each page that I had to define (isn't a negative). This is an astounding read for high school age students and above. I'm a history major and love non-fiction books. The first half of the book is relatively happy but the second half takes the opposite turn with being more sad and grim. It's heartbreaking that so many malicious lies were said and believed by the French commoners to the point of demonizing her and using her as a scapegoat for all of France's problems! Really the only negative of this book is how the book was made! I have literally 60 pages that are falling out.. Although it's the best book I ever read it is also the worst made. Maybe it's just my book? If so I just got unlucky.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fraser's biography on the French Queen Marie Antoinette was a brilliant adaptation of her life from the moment of her birth, to the end of her life. It is an in-depth written account of her struggles with marriage, political affairs, blossoming into a woman, and the tragedies of the French Revolution. The author gives brilliant historical facts on French politics and fashion and gives you a sense of caring for many of the characters who are historical figures. A very good read for those who love history and biographies.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a Highschool student and I read this book as a resource for my research project on Marie Antoinette and   I found this book most interesting. I really enjoyed this book because it provided a lot of information and talked about every event that could have ever happened in Marie's life. Antonia Fraser captures every aspect of her life and I enjoyed reading everything so thoroughly. I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys reading about Marie and wants to find out more information and just know more about her. I learned a lot more about her from this book then from what I already knew before. It's always good to learn more about someone through a book like this one because Antonia wrote clearly about all the key events and Key points of her life. I really liked this book because of how much information and detail their was put in and helped me understand everything clearly. If others are looking to read this it is tremendously helpful if your learning about her, and would like to get to know more about her or if your just looking for an interesting person to read about. Everything that Marie went through in her short life was captured in this book like her marriage and death and etc.. Events. I would really recommend people to choose this book to read and get to know Marie Antoinette's life and experiences she went through. 
StephanieFRiley More than 1 year ago
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Presents a more nuanced picture of the subject. In this well written and researched book, Marie Antoinette assumes a human and, at times, very sympathetic dimension.
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