To the Scaffold: The Life of Marie Antoinette
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To the Scaffold: The Life of Marie Antoinette

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  549 ratings  ·  33 reviews
An extraordinary life...Erickson gives us a likable, empathetic woman and broadens our understanding of her. - The New York Times Book Review
Paperback, 384 pages
Published September 5th 2000 by St. Martin's Press (first published 1991)
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Jan 13, 2011 Jessica rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in: French History, French revolution, European Monarchy
Things I learned from this book:

1)King Louis had a medical condition known as phimosis that made is excruciatingly painful to ejaculate. It required a painful surgery to correct, and it was until 7 years into their marriage he finally opted for this surgery. Ouch.

2)Marie Antoinette never left France after she arrived as a young bride.

3)The guillotine was a new execution method invented during the revolution. It was actually a political statement meant to grant all levels of society an equal meth...more
This is one of the most riveting biographies I've read. After reading the biography of Napoleon Bonaparte, I picked it up AGAIN (this is my third time reading it) in order to refresh my memory of what layed the groundwork in France for the French Revolution and the rise of Napoleon. Undisciplined, LAVISH spending by Marie Antoinette and the royal family and courtiers during a time in France when their economy was on the verge of bankruptcy, led to wide protest and unrest. Burdensome taxes were d...more
Page Wench
A more informal feel to this than other Marie Antoinette biographies I've read. I appreciated the footnotes and kept my bookmark at the appropriate place to easily flip back to refer to them for each chapter. A good mixture of personal and court details and the broader political picture of a troubled France. Recommended to anyone interested in the French Revolution or Antoinette, even if you've read other biographies.
Delicious Strawberry
I read this back in highschool - this book was a chance discovery as I wandered among the shelves at my school library, looking for something to read. This book looked interesting, so I picked it up, and I was not disappointed. Not only does Ms. Erickson offer a glimpse into Marie Antoinette's life, but she also gives a background of French history (which is vital to understanding the French Revolution and the circumstances that stripped the royal family of their powers and led to Louis and Mari...more
This is a good crash course on the life of Marie Antoinette and the circumstances that led to her death. Erickson is a highly sympathetic author, but she doesn't whitewash the monarchy's absurd extravagance (she notes in one chapter that the cost of maintaining the royal household was, at one time, fully a sixth of the national budget). On the whole, she does an excellent job telling the story of how the French monarchy refused to change with the world around it. It doesn't read like fiction, bu...more
Kathleen Hagen
To the Scaffold: the Life of Marie Antoinette, by Carolly Erickson, Narrated by Davina Porter, Produced by recorded Books, Downloaded from

This book is filled with details about Marie Antoinette’s life, first in Austria as Empress Maria theresa’s daughter, and then in France where she went to be the wife of Prince (dauphine) Louis. Louis, when he became king, was not a leader. Antoinette, as she was known, had to advise him and lead him. But in doing so, she went, in the view of the...more
Dolores Marconi
Great read; well researched story. Marie Antoinette was nothing like she has been generally portrayed; her famous quote "Let them eat cake", in this account, meant to allow them what she herself could eat. The teen aged King and Queen were untrained in business but good hearted.
Michelle Davila
It is by no means the best chronicle of this woman. It talks endlessly about the queens growing up and life, but not much about the trial. So the tittle is missleading
Noelle M
The French Revolution, in my opinion, was the death blow to the ancient "organic" social structure and its economy, that divided society into three classes or "estates": clergy, aristocracy, and serfs. From what I can see of the economy of that system, the clergy and aristocracy held the land and wealth, and the serfs provided the engine's steam. The economy enforced by these classes of power and non-power collapsed under the demands of the Hundred Year War. Economies and social organizations do...more
A good read if you like surprise (spoiler alert), Marie Antonette was beheaded.

While I do think she was spoiled and really overdid in many cases, I do have to wonder if her life would/ could have been different if her mother had chosen to educate her more in politics and allowed her to see her in action negotiating. Maybe Marie Antoinette would have been more able to help Louis XVI, who I really do think of as such a weak king and individual, if she had more background and instruct...more
I began this book with a very limited knowledge of Marie Antoinette and that period of French history. From the standpoint of describing how people lived, especially at court, during that time, the author was amazing. I truly had no idea of the awful, unclean living conditions! Because of surviving diaries, letters, etc, the author was able to paint a very clear picture of Marie Antoinette and her life.

The period of time was a sad one for the people of France, especially in the crowded, dirty ci...more
I thought this was a very well written and interesting biography of one of the most famous women in history. I really didn't know much about Marie Antoinette and found the descriptions and background of the political situation in France leading up to the revolution to be quite helpful in giving context to her tragedy. Good read for anyone who wants to learn more about these subjects. Familiar with Ericsson as a historical fiction author, very impressed with this biography.
All in all pretty good. Interesting narrative and I learned a lot, but it lacked spark for me. Perhaps there simply isn't enough detailed documentation of Marie Antoinette's life to flesh her out more fully. At times, I felt the author wanted the reader to be more sympathetic than the circumstances called for. A good introduction to the subject with interesting information, but not a riveting read.
Connie Barillas
Lots of French history. Insights into the royal family as "regular" people. Sadness that the naivete of the royal couple lost them their heads. I've wondered what became of their children. It has been interesting to read early American history books with the memory of this book. The American founders knew this couple, and liked them.
This was the first book that I'd read about Marie Antoinette. Like most adolescents, my opinions at the time, were based on the small paragraphs in class history books. I felt amazing sympathy for this historical figure. Carolly Erickson's ability to enliven this person (beyond the page) opened new literary possibilities.
I just finished reading this book and I loved it. It gave a lot of information on th normal everday life and the view points everyone was coming from. I had a hard time puting this book down and was a little sad when it was over.
A great read - clear;y very well researched but written in a tone that makes it both absorbing and a riveting read. I had not come acrooss this author previously but will be adding some of her titles to me to-read list.
I remember being scandalized by this book, but also facinated. Marie Antoinette is certainly one of those characters who baffles, delights, and offends...loved and hated by history, who only lived as she was raised.
Aug 24, 2013 Diane rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: history buffs
Recommended to Diane by: 9th Ward Book club
This book was so interesting. I never would want to live in those times. She was raised in a royal home, yet really had no idea how to be a queen. She had a really sad life that ended with her beheading.
Allison Marx

Good book, but I was surprised at how much history was reviewed that involved the queen but was not about her. I wish it had more accounts of her diaries, letters, etc.
Dec 17, 2007 Cecilia rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who like historical biographies
Interesting perspective to read. Made me see her in a completely different light. She really was a very misunderstood woman thrown into something beyond her control.
This was a very interesting read. It made me want to learn more about the political situation in France during this time period.
Thoroughly enjoyed although it's too bad I already knew the ending...goes with the territory of biographies and non-fiction.
Annie Matthys
A stirring account of the lives of the French royals. The images of the guillotine will haunt me for days.
Pam Curtis
Loved the history of the French Revolution. The detail of life in that age is well researched.
Jul 26, 2007 Ann rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: History buffs
Biography of Marie Antoinette. Exciting. Maybe more sympathetic to her than it should have been.
Interesting so far. Not a novel on Marie Antoinette but it is reading like one so far.
A well researched story of Marie Antionette, one of the most abused historical figures.
What an amazing life. I can't wait to read the biography of her daughter
Valerie Whodat
Very good if you are interested in learning about Marie Antoinette.
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Distinguished historian Carolly Erickson is the author of The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette, The First Elizabeth, Great Catherine, Alexandra and many other prize-winning works of fiction and nonfiction. She lives in Hawaii.
More about Carolly Erickson...
The Last Wife of Henry VIII The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette Bloody Mary: The Life of Mary Tudor The Tsarina's Daughter Rival to the Queen

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