To the Scaffold: The Life of Marie Antoinette

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Overview

One of history's most misunderstood figures, Marie Antoinette represents the extravagance and the decadence of pre-Revolution France. Yet there was an innocence about Antoinette, thrust as a child into the chillingly formal French court.

Married to the maladroit, ill-mannered Dauphin, Antoinette found pleasure in costly entertainments and garments. She spent lavishly while her overtaxed and increasingly hostile subjects blamed her for France's plight. In time Antoinette matured ...

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Overview

One of history's most misunderstood figures, Marie Antoinette represents the extravagance and the decadence of pre-Revolution France. Yet there was an innocence about Antoinette, thrust as a child into the chillingly formal French court.

Married to the maladroit, ill-mannered Dauphin, Antoinette found pleasure in costly entertainments and garments. She spent lavishly while her overtaxed and increasingly hostile subjects blamed her for France's plight. In time Antoinette matured into a courageous Queen, and when their enemies finally closed in, Antoinette followed her inept husband to the guillotine in one last act of bravery.

In To the Scaffold, Carolly Erickson provides an estimation of a lost Queen that is psychologically acute, richly detailed, and deeply moving.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this smoothly written biography, Erickson contends that Marie Antoinette had only one extramarital love, and depicts her as courageous and dignified at her execution. (June)
Library Journal
``In the cemetery of the Madeleine, gravediggers cursed the cold and prepared a hole in the earth to receive the frail remains of another prisoner, as a harsh autumn wind blew up around the gravestones and bent the branches of the leafless trees.'' With these words, popular biographer Erickson ( Bonnie Prince Charlie, LJ 12/88) brings to a close the story begun on a cold birthday almost 38 years earlier of the tragic French queen. Though this sympathetic account would appear to add little new to historical record or interpretation, Erickson's descriptive writing talents will insure a readership for this book. This is the author's first French subject. Perhaps her next biographical study should be of a person less studied than the tragic queen.-- William C. McCully, Park Ridge P.L., Ill.
School Library Journal
YA-- Much maligned in her lifetime, Marie Antoinette is likewise much misunderstood by history, which portrays her as a vain, selfish, and insensitive woman of limited intellect. Erickson attempts to right the wrongs and correct the image of this queen in an easily read biography that avoids both academic cant and ``psychohistorical'' pretension. Tracing Marie Antoinette from her childhood among her 13 brothers and sisters at the court of her legendary mother, Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, the author portrays her not as the selfish queen of lore but as a reasonably intelligent, opinionated woman of decidedly conservative bent whose ultimate ``crime,'' for which she paid with her life, was having the wrong title in the wrong place at the wrong time. To the Scaffold will be enjoyed by students of European and French history. --Roberta Lisker, W. T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA
From the Publisher
"Carolly Erickson brings [an] immediacy and easy intimacy to her study."

- Los Angeles Times Book Review

"For lovers of history or lovers of a great romantic story, this book is a must."

- Louisville Courier-Journal

Los Angeles Times Book Review

Carolly Erickson brings [an] immediacy and easy intimacy to her study.
Louisville Courier-Journal

For lovers of history or lovers of a great romantic story, this book is a must.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688116118
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/28/1992

Meet the Author

Distinguished historian Carolly Erickson is the author of Rival to the Queen, The Memoirs of Mary Queen of Scots, The First Elizabeth, The Hidden Life of Josephine, The Last Wife of Henry VIII, and many other prize-winning works of fiction and nonfiction. Her novel The Tsarina's Daughter won the Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award for Best Historical Fiction. She lives in Hawaii.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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