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Marie Antoinette: The Journey

3.90  ·  Rating Details  ·  25,094 Ratings  ·  946 Reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 544 pages
Published September 18th 2001 by Nan A. Talese (first published 2001)
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Kelli You might like "When the King Took Flight" by Timothy Tackett. Not specifically about King Louis, but it does say more about his decision making…moreYou might like "When the King Took Flight" by Timothy Tackett. Not specifically about King Louis, but it does say more about his decision making (though the answer below is completely right--he lacked conviction and Marie Antoinette did a lot of the decision making toward the end. He leaned on her a lot. He wasn't known for being exciting). As for cruelty and rash decisions, the execution of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI and the feelings the people had toward them were actually very different. The people didn't kill Louis because they hated him (though of course some did) and they weren't really being rash. If you read some things from that period, you'll find it wasn't an easy decision. They were very split. Ultimately, they executed him because they felt they had to in order for the Revolution to survive at that point. That's very different than with Marie Antoinette. Her they did absolutely despise. That was definitely more cruelty than sacrifice. (less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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K.D. Absolutely
Oct 09, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, bio, french
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 really liked it  ·  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
Jan 08, 2010 Elena rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Alice Poon
May 23, 2016 Alice Poon rated it really liked it
Shelves: history

This was my second Antonia Fraser book, the first being The Wives of Henry VIII. Thorough research and minute attention to details is the clear mark of both. Personally I found the writing of Marie Antoinette: The Journey to be more lucid and less confusing.

Perhaps this passage in the Epilogue best sums up the book:-

“A scapegoat was in fact what Marie Antoinette became. Among other things, she would be blamed for the whole French Revolution, by those who optimistically looked to one “guilty” in
...more
Tatiana
Apr 06, 2010 Tatiana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of history and biographies of royals
Shelves: non-fiction, 2010
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
Feb 06, 2012 Megan Medley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
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
Elizabeth
Feb 04, 2016 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Marie is bae.
Cassie
Nov 15, 2010 Cassie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
AnnLoretta
Jan 01, 2016 AnnLoretta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I admired the even quality of the author’s tone. I was glad to read the history of the apocryphal quotation “Let them eat cake.”

This is my first Antonia Fraser, I think. I didn't enjoy her writing as much as I have enjoyed biographies by Ralph Martin, say, or Robert Massie. I believe this is due to the subject matter. I certainly have no quarrel whatsoever with Lady Antonia's research or with her conclusions.

I can understand why the monarchy had to go, given the conditions of the day. I unders
...more
Ana Mardoll
Mar 02, 2011 Ana Mardoll rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ana-reviewed
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
Jessica
Jan 22, 2016 Jessica rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Fascinating, well-written, and tragic.
Caidyn
Jun 08, 2016 Caidyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5

Having read -- technically listened -- to this, I can see why this is typically seen as the Bible to Marie Antoinette, much like how Eric Ives' The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn is the Bible for Anne Boleyn. Fraser casts Marie in a very good light, making her seem smart and powerful and very much like the Queen of France, dispelling rumors that have stuck with her throughout the years, such as "Let them eat cake!" or that she had many lovers.

See, when I was a kid, I read diaries for the royal
...more
Dana Loo
Jul 29, 2016 Dana Loo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Conoscevo sommariamente la vita e la tragica fine di Maria Antonietta ma, averne letto dettagliatamente ogni fase della sua vita fino al momento della sua violenta morte, è stato a dir poco commovente.
Una biografia accuratissima questa della Fraser che ci fa conoscere una bambina trascurata alla corte d'Austria, poi usata come pedina e merce di scambio per i disegni politici di due nazioni, quindi sposa bambina che dovette attendere più di sette anni per consumare il matrimonio con Luigi XVI, un
...more
Jennifer
Sep 16, 2008 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 26, 2008 Alison rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Apr 02, 2009 Anne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographies
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
Emily
Jan 23, 2016 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
It's no surprise that this book took me forever to get through, it is a really dense, long history book. Despite this fact I really enjoyed it! I didn't know much about Marie Antoinette prior to reading this, but I was very interested in her life, and now I feel like I know practically everything about her! The author definitely has a more sympathetic view of the doomed queen, which is not a bad thing in this case. It really seems like bad luck was really Marie Antoinette's problem! I would defi ...more
Amanda
Aug 28, 2008 Amanda rated it liked it  ·  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
Tiffany
Jan 27, 2016 Tiffany rated it it was amazing
Shelves: our-world, history
An absolute intriguing historical figure. I think all the injustice she faced makes me just love her more!
 SaЯRah Muhammad
Dec 16, 2015 SaЯRah Muhammad rated it it was amazing
Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, and Georgiana Cavendish nee Spencer, Duchess of Devonshire were two of the most famous women of the 18th century. When the Duchess visited France and met the Queen, the two women discovered they had a lot in common and became life long friends. So, what are the similarities between them?

-Overbearing mothers: both Countess Spencer and Empress Maria Theresa loved their daughters very much, but this love was very often suffocating. The two women were convinced the
...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
Socraticgadfly
Oct 09, 2012 Socraticgadfly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biography
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
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
Kelly
Apr 16, 2009 Kelly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Lisa
Apr 14, 2016 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the most detailed biography I have ever read, and I've read many. This is not a light summer read, but a thoroughly researched biography that includes every minuscule detail about royal life in pre-Revolutionary France. The book details Marie Antoinette's childhood in Austria, her unfortunate marriage to King Louis XVI, and her untimely death at the guillotine. I am no expert on French history or even the monarchy in general, but this biography provides a somewhat sympathetic depiction o ...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
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“I have seen all, I have heard all, I have forgotten all. marie antoinette” 25 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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