Join BookBrowse today and get access to free books, our twice monthly digital magazine, and more.

Reviews of Marie Antoinette by Antonia Fraser

Marie Antoinette

The Journey

by Antonia Fraser

Marie Antoinette by Antonia Fraser X
Marie Antoinette by Antonia Fraser
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Sep 2001, 608 pages

    Paperback:
    Nov 2002, 544 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Brilliantly written, a work of impeccable scholarship. An utterly riveting and intensely moving book by one of our finest biographers.

Never before has the life of Marie Antoinette been told so intimately and with such authority as in Antonia Fraser's newest work, Marie Antoinette: The Journey. Famously known as the eighteenth-century French queen whose excesses have become legend, Marie Antoinette was blamed for instigating the French Revolution. But the story of her journey begun as a fourteen-year-old sent from Vienna to marry the future Louis XVI to her courageous defense before she was sent to the guillotine reveals a woman of greater complexity and character than we have previously understood. We stand beside Marie Antoinette and witness the drama of her life as she becomes a scapegoat of the Ancien Regime when her faults were minor in comparison to the punishments inflicted on her.

The youngest daughter, fifteenth out of sixteen children, of Austrian empress Maria Teresa and Francis I, Marie Antoinette was sent on a literal journey by her mother from Vienna to Versailles with the expectation that she would further Austrian interests at all times. Yet, Marie Antoinette was by nature far from interested in state affairs and much more inclined to exert a gracious, philanthropic role, patronizing the arts especially music, as royalty would come to behave in the nineteenth century. Despite this the French accused her of political interference and wrote scandalous tracts against her, mocking her lack of sophistication. Meanwhile, longing for a family and the birth of an heir who would have cemented the Franco-Austro alliance, the French queen had to endure more than eight years of public humiliation for her barren marriage before the delivery of her first of four children.

As these problems unfold, Antonia Fraser also weaves a richly detailed account of Marie Antoinette's other, more poignant journey: from the ill-educated and unprepared girl who sought refuge in pleasure as a consolation into a magnificent, courageous woman who defied her enemies at her trial with consummate intelligence, arousing the admiration of even the most hostile revolutionaries.

Brilliantly written, Marie Antoinette is a work of impeccable scholarship. Drawing on a wealth of family letters and other archival materials, Antonia Fraser successfully avoids the hagiography of some the French queen's admirers and the misogyny of many of her critics. The result is an utterly riveting and intensely moving book by one of our finest biographers.

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 ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!
  1. How important was Marie Antoinette’s childhood in Austria–historical enemy of France–in influencing her career? Would it ever have been possible for an Austrian princess to have a satisfactory life in France?

  2. Was Marie Antoinette’s relationship with her mother, the Empress Maria Teresa, a damaging or a supportive element of her life?

  3. Marie Antoinette’s marriage to the Dauphin, later Louis XVI, remained unconsummated for seven and a half years. What effect did this have on her character–and her relationship with her husband?

  4. Were the accusations of extravagance and frivolity leveled against ...
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

Booklist
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.

Library Journal
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.

Publishers Weekly
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.

Reader Reviews

Katie

Truth Unfolds
I really loved this book. It proved how wrong people can be sometimes and how history can really mess things up. The book showed Marie Antoinette as she really was and told nothing but the truth. I believe every word it says and feel that history has...   Read More
Laura Elizabeth

Antonia Fraser's book on Marie Antoinette will not be listed as one of her better works. Ms. Fraser is so obviously, painfully, an Antoinette devotee. There is little to no historical objectivity in this book and there are factual errors.

I am ...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Read-Alikes

Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Marie Antoinette, try these:

  • Liberty Equality Fashion jacket

    Liberty Equality Fashion

    by Anne Higonnet

    Published 2024

    About this book

    Three women led a fashion revolution and turned themselves into international style celebrities.

  • In the Shadow of the Empress jacket

    In the Shadow of the Empress

    by Nancy Goldstone

    Published 2022

    About this book

    The vibrant, sprawling saga of Empress Maria Theresa - one of the most renowned women rulers in history - and three of her extraordinary daughters, including Marie Antoinette, the doomed queen of France.

We have 11 read-alikes for Marie Antoinette, but non-members are limited to two results. To see the complete list of this book's read-alikes, you need to be a member.
More books by Antonia Fraser
Search read-alikes
How we choose read-alikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Joy Is the Justice We Give Ourselves
    Joy Is the Justice We Give Ourselves
    by J Drew Lanham
    As a recipient of the MacArthur "Genius" Grant, and a Professor of Wildlife Ecology and Master ...
  • Book Jacket: Glorious Exploits
    Glorious Exploits
    by Ferdia Lennon
    Lampo and Gelon are two unemployed potters in their thirties whose lives are spent between their ...
  • Book Jacket: Song of the Six Realms
    Song of the Six Realms
    by Judy I. Lin
    Xue'er has no place in the kingdom of Qi or any of the Six Realms. Her name means "Solitary Snow" ...
  • Book Jacket: The Demon of Unrest
    The Demon of Unrest
    by Erik Larson
    In the aftermath of the 1860 presidential election, the divided United States began to collapse as ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Long After We Are Gone
by Terah Shelton Harris
After their father's death, four siblings rally to save their family home in this gripping and hopeful tale.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Stolen Child
    by Ann Hood

    An unlikely duo ventures through France and Italy to solve the mystery of a child’s fate.

  • Book Jacket

    Daughters of Shandong
    by Eve J. Chung

    Eve J. Chung's debut novel recounts a family's flight to Taiwan during China's Communist revolution.

Win This Book
Win Only the Brave

Only the Brave by Danielle Steel

A powerful, sweeping historical novel about a courageous woman in World War II Germany.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

F T a T

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.