Marie Antoinette : the journey

by Fraser, Antonia, 1932-

Format: Large Print 2002
Availability: Unavailable 0 copies
Summary

Still a controversial figure ¿ as well as a celebrated one ¿ Marie Antoinette¿s dramatic life-story continues to arouse mixed emotions. To many people, she is still ¿la reine méchante¿, 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¿. She was accused of personal profligacies and sexual excesses. Others are equally passionate in her defence: to them, she is a victim of misogyny.

Marie Antoinette remains one of the genuinely romantic and ill-treated characters in history. A compassionate queen and devoted mother, she did little to deserve her tragic destiny. She was born in 1755, one of 16 children of the Austrian Empress Maria Theresa. At the age of 15 she was to be the bride of the French Dauphin, heir to his grandfather Louis XV. The Dauphin came to the throne as Louis XVI in 1774 and for more than ten years the French court at Versailles glittered under the presidency of its young, beautiful and artistic queen, in what would be seen afterwards as the last throw of the Ancien Regime.

In this stunning biography Antonia Fraser examines her influence over the king, 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, and her trial (during which her 7-year-old son was forced to testify to sexual abuse by his mother) and eventual execution by guillotine in 1793.

Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "Did Marie Antoinette, the notorious and ill-fated queen of France, actually respond to the peasants' clamor for bread with, "Let them eat cake" ? Such myths and fallacies associated with the consort of the guillotined Louis XVI are cleared up in this vivid, well-rounded biography by the popular British author of, among other well-received works, Mary Queen of Scots (1969) and Royal Charles: Charles II and the Restoration (1979). Marie Antoinette was dispatched to the French court as a teenage bride by her mother, Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, to cement an alliance between the two "superpowers." Marie's intended role was to function as a spy-agent for the Austrian imperial court. She had been raised with a certain informality, a sensibility she brought with her to the opulent Palace of Versailles, but Fraser is quick to admit to Marie's extravagance once she became queen. Even though Marie's marriage to Louis XVI proved problematic, the king never took a mistress; however, Marie got saddled with a reputation for taking lovers of both sexes. Although Marie had no real taste for politics, the revolution proved fatal for her, but Fraser concludes, "her weaknesses, although manifest, were of trivial worth in the balance of her misfortune." --Brad Hooper"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "A child-princess is married off to a husband of limited carnal appetite. Her indiscretions and navet, 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. (on sale: Sept. 18) Forecast: Fraser needs no introduction to American audiences. She will come over from England for a five-city tour, and with widespreand favorable reviews, this should have no trouble making the bestseller lists. It's a BOMC, History Book Club, Literary Guild and QPB selection. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Marie Antoinette, -- Queen, consort of Louis XVI, King of France, -- 1755-1793.
Queens -- France -- Biography.
France -- History -- Louis XVI, 1774-1793.
Publisher Waterville, ME :Thorndike Press,2002
Language English
Description 861 pages (large print) : map ; 25 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references.
ISBN 0786239026 (lg. print : hc : alk. paper)
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