Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Book Report--Marie Antoinette, The Journey

I LOVE good biographies. This one grabbed me from the first pages. Marie Antoinette, groomed from birth to be married into royalty was unfortunately groomed for little else. France's tragic last Queen has become synonymous with extravagance and a disregard for the working class. Marie Antoinette was accused of gross promiscuity and lesbianism and most noted for a 'quotation' "Let them eat cake" she never uttered. {According to author Antonia Fraser, the infamous phrase was first spoken generations before MA.}

Fraser sheds a sympathetic light on Marie Antoinette. The biography is well-researched and really takes off when MA is married to the French Dauphin at the age of 14, leaving her beloved family, home, and friends in Austria for an inept and immature 16-year-old husband. As France's queen, MA lived in the most formal of all courts where her every move was ritualized and watched by both court insiders and the public.

During Louis XVI's reign, the French economy collapsed under rising expenses and a huge deficit {partly due to France's financial support of the American Revolution}. The starving working class looked at the royal family as the cause...and well, the rest is history.

Marie Antoinette lived extremes in her life: great wealth, great poverty; great recognition, great loneliness; great honor, great humiliation. Her story, however, is ultimately one of grace and unearthly courage and strength as she tried to protect her husband and children through four years of terror.

BTW, Antonia Fraser is a prolific biographer and author of historical fiction. Her specialty is English history {The Wives of Henry VIII, Cromwell Our Chief of Men, King Charles II, etc.}.


Shoeaddict said...

I will be looking for this in the library this week. Thanks!

Lesli said...

I own this book!! And I love historical biographies especially about royalty. I have always been fascinated by the story of Marie Antoinette.

Lucas said...

So...was Marie Antoinette a lesbian?