``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.
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
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