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Marie Antoinette

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  22,792 ratings  ·  877 reviews
Marie Antoinette, Antonia Fraser's first book in five years, heralds the welcome return of her wonderfully lucid, engaging style as she disentangles myth from fact regarding the life of the still controversial, and misunderstood, wife of Louis XVI of France. It is also perhaps her most assured work to date. The daughter of Empress Maria Teresa of Austria, the 14-year-old M ...more
Paperback, 488 pages
Published 2001 by Weidenfeld and Nicolson
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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K.D. Absolutely
Next Saturday, October 16th will be her 217th Death Anniversary. On that same day, 217 years ago, Marie Antoinette or Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna (1755-1793) was executed by guillotine. She was convicted of treason. Nine months prior to that her husband, King Louis XIV was executed. These all happened at the height of the French Revolution (1789-1799).

Marie Antoinette was a victim from birth to death. Her marriage to King Louis XIV was a move to forge alliances among the warring countries incl
...more
Jane Vandre
Sep 02, 2007 Jane Vandre rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History Buffs
As a former French major in college, I really enjoyed this book and learned so much about this period of time and the dynamics of the monarchy in France. While at times it was difficult to keep all the characters straight since they had multiple names/titles, I found that the overall narrative was compelling. Most people today have little sympathy for this queen, but I came away from this book with a much altered impression of her character and personality. She was truly in an impossible positio ...more
Elena
My copy of Lady Antonia Fraser's "Marie-Antoinette, The Journey" (Anchor Books, 2002) sports on its cover the round face of Kirsten Dunst which, as anyone who has studied portraits of Marie-Antoinette knows, is in sharp contrast to the lovely oval countenance of the real queen. I found it annoying, at first. However, while reading the international best seller, I came to see the photo from the Coppola film as suitable for a book which, at times, sacrifices historical exegesis to the demands of p ...more
Tatiana
Apr 06, 2010 Tatiana rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of history and biographies of royals
Shelves: 2010, non-fiction
I am not a history buff, so it's hard for me to judge if this book is historically accurate. What I can attest to is that Antonia Fraser knows how to write a very engaging non-fictional narrative. And from my limited experience with non-fiction, it is a hard thing to do.

"Marie Antoinette" doesn't appear to be an overly objective book, the tone of it is very involved and I guess that's what makes it so readable. Fraser paints a very sympathetic portrait of Marie Antoinette, who at some point in
...more
Harriet M.
This was a good for a beach-ready kind of history. Fraser's good in terms of readability, but she bends over backwards to explain how Antoinette was misunderstood without really coming to terms with the complexity of her public face. I would have liked more footnotes, although I'm probalby not the target audience in that regard. I REALLY would have liked some more editing, not just in terms of overall repetitiousness, but in terms of readability. Fraser writes engagingly and well most of the tim ...more
Megan Medley
I have a slight fascination with Marie Antoinette. She is what led me to study the French Revolution whe I did my minor in History. While in Paris, I wanted to visit everything related to her, and when anything on the History Channel comes on about the French Rev., I must watch it. She is probably one of the most misunderstood monarchs. I suppose it's unjust of me to sympathize with her, but she too, was just a girl. Married at 14 to a prince who knew nothing about how to rule a kingdom. Forced ...more
Cassie
LOVE LOVE LOVE. This book took me a while to get through because of Mrs. Fraser's dense style of writing but also because I tried to savor each moment of this biography. Somehow Antonia Fraser writes in a no nonsense way yet allows the reader to hear the music, and the swish of Marie Antoinette's skirts as she walked through Versailles. This book takes the reader on a journey through an incredible life, causing me to laugh, cry and at one point throw the book I was so incensed at the injustices ...more
Ana Mardoll
Marie Antoinette / 0-385-48949-8

I love reading and learning about Marie Antoinette as a historical figure - she had such a fascinating life, and was such an interesting person - but I could not have been more disappointed with this book. I'm really surprised that it has so many high ratings, so take my review with a grain of salt, but I just found this book to be a complete chore to wade through.

It's really frustrating to see Fraser take such a fascinating historical figure and rob her of all in
...more
Madeline
This book was one of Sofia Coppola's primary sources for her movie "Marie Antoinette" and anyone who's seen the movie will enjoy finding all the quotes used in the movie that the historical figures actually said. It's a good biography and, unlike Coppola's movie, actually tells you what happened to Marie-Antoinette and her family after the mob arrested them and brought them to Paris. Fraser goes a little out of her way to portray Marie-Antoinette as just a misunderstood but good-hearted person ( ...more
Jennifer
Not only does Antonia Frasier dispell the rumor that Marie Antoinette ever uttered “let them eat cake” when told that the French were starved for bread, she gives a fuller picture of the queen that shows her more than just an extravagant self-involved royal out-of-touch with reality. Frasier packs in gossipy details that keep this from being a dry read.
Marie Antoinette is born to be a pawn in her mother’s (Hapsburg Empress Maria Theresa) bid to expand Hapsburg power and influence. At the age of
...more
Alison
I enjoyed this quite a bit. I haven't read anything else about Marie Antoinette, but I felt that Fraser did a good job of telling "Marie Antoinette's dramatic story without anticipating its terrible ending," as she writes in the author's note. Here and there she mentions that something will have greater consequences in the future, but she does so in a straightforward manner, with no melodrama.

Much as is the case with Alison Weir's "Six Wives of Henry VIII," Fraser has produced a deeply-research
...more
Anne
Although it took me so long to read it that I had to pay tremendous fines at the library (ahem...) I did enjoy this book and a better understanding of Marie Antoinette. I certainly learned a lot about Marie Antoinette and the French Court and Revolution, and I liked that it was easy to read but not sensationalized.

I was disappointed, though, that Antonia Fraser, rather than simply writing about Marie Antoinette's life, projected across her views of Marie Antoinette through her writing, forcing
...more
Amanda
Aug 28, 2008 Amanda rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of history
Recommended to Amanda by: the movie
Three stars for a very well written biography, but minus two for the difficulty in user[reader] friendliness. I don't think I would've read this whole thing if it wasn't so darned interesting to me. It has alot of very difficult words/wording because (in my opinion) it was written by a famous historian rather than a great 'writer' if you will. It's loaded with historical facts about what we know of Marie Antoinette the person, which is extremely interesting especially since she lead such an inte ...more
LibraryCin
As a little girl, Marie Antoinette was an Archduchess of Austria. She later married Louis XVI, the future king of France. They ruled France in the late 18th century, but that came to an end via the French Revolution. They had to run for their lives, which in the end, they both lost. This is her biography, so it's nonfiction.

This was very good. I must admit to not knowing a lot about her, the time period, or the other people involved, so I learned a lot. Because I don't know as many people, at ti
...more
Caroline
It is always the sign of a good book when you find yourself slowing down upon nearing the end instead of speeding up, reluctant to come to a close. All the more so when the book is the story of a life and, in slowing down, you somehow try to put off the inevitable death at the end. I definitely found that with this excellent biography of Marie Antoinette; knowing her fate from the outset I still found myself dreading the last few pages, utterly engrossed in this fascinating personality.

From the
...more
Kaye
After visiting Paris and Versailles this summer I wanted to learn more about the history of France and in particularly Marie Antoinette. This book tells the story of a 15 year old Marie Antoinette who is wed for political reasons to the French Dauphin. Neither are well educated or prepared to become King and Queen at early ages. Fraser is a detailed historian and particularly in the first half, explained how she came to conclusions about very intimate parts of life at Versailles. There are many ...more
Conor Byrne
Before reading this book I knew very little about the doomed queen, Marie Antoinette. I have to confess that, while seriously doubting that she ever made the notorious comment 'let them eat cake' (something, by the way, completely unrelated to her), I had viewed her in my mind as a frivolous, pleasure-loving, essentially none too bright woman who happened to become Queen of France, enjoy a reign of said frivolity and pleasures which covered a turbulent marriage and disastrous relationship with h ...more
Socraticgadfly
Very good book. I've never read a bio of her before, nor an extended history of France at the end of the ancien regime. I knew that she probably had never said "let them eat cake"; I didn't know that it was a "commonplace saying" put on the lips of other royals already nearly a century earlier. Beyond tidbits of learning like that, there's real history and biography alike.

Fraser gives a good profile of Marie as a person, first of all. That includes detailing her personal development as Dauphine,
...more
Kelly
This is my kind of history. If those shows on the history channel about medieval weapons are history for boys, this is history for the girlies. It feels like reading an 18th century tabloid. In a really good way. I could not put it down, not even to brush my hair. (I needed one of Marie's famous horse-hair wigs). I loved the politics, the history, and Frasier's analysis, artfully dotted with details about the cut and fabric of her gowns, the food on her table, and the horribly wacky rules of lif ...more
Brittany B.
Really great biography, just a lot of info. A LOT OF INFO!! It is not easy to finish, nor to keep focused on the material. Antonia Frasier is remarkable and was obviously dedicated to her work.

I had incentive: I planned to watch the movie that was inspired by this biography, if I could finish the book.


So on Christmas Eve, I watched Marie Antionette. The movie was a tiny fraction of the book. Copolla has such a great vision, and followed the book really well. I only wish the movie had been an
...more
Alexandra
It's weird reading biographies. There can be no great surprises, really; you do already know the ending after all. And in the case of Marie Antoinette, I know the outlines of her life so well that I was curious to see how Fraser shaped the events, rather than finding them out - especially of the last half of her life. I knew very little of her childhood and in fact did not realise that she was the youngest daughter of the Austrian Empress, which does add a particular shade to her upbringing.

Over
...more
Karleen Koen
I am not a Marie A. fan, but I picked up this because I think the world of Fraser's writing and presentation of history. And once again, she didn't fail me, and I ended up with more compassion for the French queen than I had had reading other histories. Fraser can write!
Maan Kawas
A wonderful book about the life and downfall of the unfortunate queen of France Marie Antoinette, which provides many details about her from birth to death, even about her children after her death! I was deeply moved by this book, and it made me wonder about the complex nature of the humankind, the hidden violence and hatred within that can be explicit under certain circumstances; moreover, the cruelty of man to man. The book shows the power of the situation and the impacts of environment and ed ...more
Martine Bailey
Having very much enjoyed Antonia Fraser’s biography, The Life and Loves of Louis XIV I was very keen to read this. I found the opening stunning – who can forget images of the young Arch-Duchesses sleighing in furs and diamonds by torchlight? But the character of under-educated Antoine, eager to please and traded for alliances by her mother Maria Therese, becomes increasingly poignant. Once Antoine arrives in France as the teenage bride of fat and awkward Louis the truth is ever more disturbing. ...more
Miri
Marie Antoinette: The Journey is a biography of the famous French queen starting with her birth in 1755, her childhood in the Viennese court of her mother the Holy Roman Empress, her frivolous youth at Versailles and tragic death at the hands of the Revolution in 1793. In between them lies the forgotten period of the happy wife and mother.

I’ve been reading Fraser’s book on and off for some years now without ever finishing it. I could never quite face Marie-Antoinette’s grim fate and always prefe
...more
Jo
What a treat! I love the work of Antonia Fraser and I've been looking forward to reading her take on Marie Antoinette, one of the most misunderstood figures in Western History. This biography tracks indeed the journey of a fourteen year old girl-bride, uprooted from her home and landed in a foreign court where she was viewed with suspicion and prejudice, to her rise to a position of authority without power, as the consort to the king of France in the most challenging of times, to her demise on t ...more
Lynne-marie
I have already proclaimed my admiration for Fraser; I will not reiderate that here. It is far too easy from the public viewpoint to have a simplistic picture of Marie Antoinette and her life & death. Fraser documents the more complex interlocking facts of her life: hated from the first by the people of France as an alien pawn of her mother Maria Theresa's Habsburg Empire, Maria enjoyed a brief period of popularity and then fell again into deeper and deeper disrepute in France. She, herself, ...more
Amy
I knew Marie Antoinette was executed and yet the whole time I was reading this I kept thinking "yeah, but maybe it won't happen somehow". And then it did, and I was left yet again feeling mildly enraged at patriarchal society and it's determination to put women into boxes and yet somehow still blame them and see fault in them for doing exactly what they were raised to do. (I.E., Marie Antoinette was raised knowing that as a royal daughter she had no purpose other than to be married off to a fore ...more
Nina
I've got to admit with all the things we have heard about Marie Antoinette through History, it was always with an unsympathetic edge - indicating that both she and Louis deserved their decapitation. Most of us know her for being extravagent and for the saying - let them eat cake - which according to this book by Antonia Fraser, was never her saying. This is a sympathetic view of the trials and tribulations of one of France's most well recognised historical figures. I enjoyed reading it and have ...more
Roxana
Antonia Fraser’s "Marie Antoinette: The Journey" was the first historical biography I ever read, and I found, to my delight, that it was the perfect historical biography with which to introduce myself to the genre. It helped me realize that non-fiction could be just as interesting and engaging as a fictional tale, and that a great biographer is able to take all the many facts of a person’s life, from all the many different sources, and weave them all into a story that can be just as emotionally ...more
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Antonia Fraser is the author of many widely acclaimed historical works, including the biographies Mary, Queen of Scots (a 40th anniversary edition was published in May 2009), Cromwell: Our Chief of Men, King Charles II and The Gunpowder Plot (CWA Non-Fiction Gold Dagger; St Louis Literary Award). She has written five highly praised books which focus on women in history, The Weaker Vessel: Women's ...more
More about Antonia Fraser...
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“I have seen all, I have heard all, I have forgotten all. marie antoinette” 21 likes
“As the Dauphine stepped out of her carriage on to the ceremonial carpet that had been laid down, it was the Duc de Choiseul who was given the privilege of the first salute. Presented with the Duc by Prince Starhemberg, Marie Antoinette exclaimed: 'I shall never forget that you are responsible for my happiness!” 7 likes
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