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Marie-Thérèse, Child of Terror: The Fate of Marie Antoinette's Daughter

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  1,902 Ratings  ·  142 Reviews
The first major biography of one of France's most mysterious women—Marie Antoinette's only child to survive the revolution.

Susan Nagel, author of the critically acclaimed biography Mistress of the Elgin Marbles, turns her attention to the life of a remarkable woman who both defined and shaped an era, the tumultuous last days of the crumbling ancien régime. Nagel brings the
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Hardcover, 418 pages
Published March 18th 2008 by Bloomsbury USA (first published May 12th 2006)
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Elena
Apr 15, 2008 Elena rated it really liked it
"Marie-Thérèse: Child of Terror" by Susan Nagel is a greatly anticipated biography which provides an overview of the turbulent life of the courageous daughter of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. Rare anecdotes and little-known incidents are pulled together into one volume to make for a consuming read. I would especially recommend it to the readers of the novel "Madame Royale" since it fills in many gaps which the novel, being a novel, did not cover. The Duchesse d'Angoulême, who was in looks and ...more
Anna
After reading many biographies on Marie Antoinette, I knew she had four children - two died as children, one - Louis XVII - at the Temple Prison in Paris, and the eldest, Marie-Thérèse, survived. But Madame Royale, as Marie-Thérèse was known as eldest daughter of the King, not only survived but went on to live a long and eventful life.

Born after years of a childless marriage between Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, Marie-Thérèse (named after her grandmother, Austrian Empress Maria Theresa) had a
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The Wee Hen
Aug 04, 2012 The Wee Hen rated it really liked it
I don't think I've ever given a thought to whatever happened to Marie-Antoinette's daughter but am I glad I got my hands on this book and read it because Marie-Therese, Madame Royale Of France, was a fascinating woman. Versailles was her childhood home; opulence, deference, divine right and Privilege with a P were hers from birth. But Marie-Antoinette and her husband also instilled a deep and abiding religious faith as well as a serious case of Noblesse Oblige in the little girl that served her ...more
Carol
Mar 11, 2010 Carol rated it it was amazing
This excellent biography of the only surviving child of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI gives an outstanding, scholarly but easily-read depiction of the events and atmosphere leading up to her birth and throughout her more than seven decades of life. I was especiallh impressed by the ease with which rumors could be spread in the mostly-illiterate population, by the role of Louis XVI's cousin Louis-Philippe in propagating rumors in the hope of his own succession and Louis-Philippe's disingenousnes ...more
SlushTurtle
Jun 11, 2008 SlushTurtle rated it it was amazing
I got this because it promised to reveal the true story of the "Dark Countess". I had no idea who she was, but she sounded like someone I wanted to get to know. She actually doesn't figure much into this book after all, but the story of Marie Antoinette's only surviving child was thrilling enough to hold my interest. And for the record- I think poor Marie got the shaft from history. I'm going to have to get a book on her next.
Juliet-Camille
This was absolutely excellent! One of the strongest, and well researched biographies of any person I've read in a long time.

I've read a lot of books, and biographies, about Marie-Antoinette and the French Revolution, and looking back I shutter to realize how seldomly noted her eldest child (her only child to make it to adulthood) is in the historical context of all those collected works.

This is a new all time favorite of mine.
1CheekyLass
Such a sad, sad, story.
Louise
Apr 29, 2013 Louise rated it it was amazing
Most important to me in a biography is that the writer lay out the story of the person and the times in an interesting and readable way. For the writer this means finding the right balance between documenting, which can get very dry, and telling, which calls for judgment of what to leave in and out. Susan Nagel has hit a perfect balance. She has sorted through a tremendous number of sources and created what may be the first biography of the only surviving child of Marie Antoinette.

Next in import
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Lauren Albert
This is practically a hagiography of the royal family. It is a shame because her obvious tendency to adoration makes her portrayal--sometimes, I'm sure, unfairly--seem less believable. It is an interesting story about someone I knew nothing about. I realize that Nagel might simply be attempting to counter narratives biased in the other way of the "let them eat cake" sort. But the constant references, for instance, to members of the royal family "charming" people made this reader think that perha ...more
Lynne-marie
May 20, 2010 Lynne-marie rated it it was ok
Given her birth to Marie Antoinette, and the loss of the mother, father and younger brother in the French Revolution, you would expect Marie-Therese's life to be full of interest. Instead it's full of horror in it's French half and of dull priggishness once she is returned to the Germans, who allow her to marry back into the French royal family, a course that even the author seems to see as self-destructive. This is living proof that being born a "royal" does not make one a singular person. The ...more
Colleen McCarthy
A lot of interesting detail about the French Revolution and the aftermath that I had never heard before - so that kept me reading, but I had 2 big issues with this book:

1. It's written as though the French royalty were saints as if everything everyone besides Marie Antoinette, Louis the 16th, and Marie Therese did was right and the rest were wrong...Even the adjectives she uses for everyone else are negative - even though I'm not sure she really has enough historical info to describe some of the
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Holly
Aug 31, 2012 Holly rated it it was ok
An interesting subject, but the book suffers mightily from the author's inability to express anything but the highest praise for Marie-Therese. She is always intelligent, kind, thoughtful, generous, charitable, etc., never sets a foot wrong, never makes a bad choice -- which makes her, in the end, rather impossible to like. At the same time, the massive events through which Marie-Therese lived are treated so superficially, and so much through a lens of what would or would not benefit or please M ...more
Natalie Wright
2.5

Let me preface this super mini review by saying that I think that part of my problem with this book was that I listened to it on audiobook. Keeping track of all of the people in the latter half of the book got to be a bit of a problem, especially because by the time I got about 3/4 of the way through the book I was, admittedly, a little bit bored.

My largest problem, however, was that I had a hard time believing some (I repeat: some, not all) of the things that the author said. While I knew n
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Alice
Nov 26, 2008 Alice rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Margaret Sankey
Jul 23, 2011 Margaret Sankey rated it liked it
This is a sympathetic and interesting biography of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI's daughter, Marie-Therese, who survived her parents' execution and time in the Temple prison (her brother the Dauphin died) to be traded to her Habsburg Austrian relatives and eventually married to her first cousin and returned to France with the Bourbon restoration. Because of Salic law in France, she couldn't inherit the throne, and was Queen, technically for 20 minutes between the abdication of Charles X and the ...more
Anne
Jan 29, 2010 Anne added it
I thought this was a very well researched and well written, sympathetic portrait of a tragic figure, the only surviving child of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette of France. She took after her father more than her mother, lacking as she did in her mother's charisma, but more than making up for it with her father's extraordinary patience and even serenity during life's great upheavals, of which she experienced many, and many that would have reminded her only too painfully of her original family's de ...more
LemontreeLime
I was totally unaware that her daughter survived the revolution, so I had to read this, and i was surprised. Had no idea there was a restored Bourbon King after Napoleon, or that most of the early 1800s was a variation on a theme of the 1700s just less hair powder, or that the Duke of Orleans was potentially responsible for so much chaos and essentially, well, genocide in his bid for taking the throne from Louis 16. Glad I read it, even if it was totally off my radar, and not sure if I will be r ...more
Nadine
Sep 15, 2010 Nadine rated it did not like it
Shelves: french-history
I recently re-read this book and remembered that I did not like it after my first reading. Nagel spends unnecessary time on the "Dark Countess" which pretty much has nothing to do with Marie Therese. In fact, if you read this after Antonia Fraser's excellent "Marie Antoinette: A Journey" you will realize that Nagel makes many baseless claims. In the hands of a better researcher Marie Therese's story would have been well worth reading.
Nicole
Aug 23, 2013 Nicole rated it liked it
Super interesting, I didn't know a lot about this period in European history. It was fun to get a different perspective on the French Revolution.
Jules
Oct 01, 2013 Jules rated it did not like it
So many unsourced affirmations. So I stopped reading. Why do everyone hate citations these days?
Lindsey
Mar 14, 2017 Lindsey rated it really liked it
If you could sum up Marie Therese, Child of Terror in three words, what would they be?
Admirable
Biographical
Anticlimactic

Who was your favorite character and why?
Marie Therese is someone to be admired, for sure, but the author gives the reader no other option for protagonist/hero.

What about Rosalyn Landor’s performance did you like?
Her accents were fluid and natural, communicating changes in age, gender, and nationality easily.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or
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Ashley
Sep 22, 2011 Ashley rated it it was ok
Everyone knows about Marie Antoinette, or at least thinks they do. I was excited to read about her daughter. Unfortunately, in several books I've read lately it seems author's choose a lesser known or unpopular historical figure in order to sneakily write about a more popular one. Until her death in the book it's mostly about Marie Antoinette and her youngest son, and not her daughter. If paragraphs not directly relating to the young girl were omitted it would be a much shorter account. Which is ...more
Jessica
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Vasilena
Dec 28, 2016 Vasilena rated it liked it
Excellent overview, however very little sourcing and some statements also not backed up by direct sourcing. The Dark Countess theory was maintained throughout more for suspense and was factually explained only in the afterword. Find it also quite vague on the personal character of the person whose biography it is - mostly factual narrative.
Heather
I have not spent much time previously reading about the time period surrounding the French Revolution and accordingly I did not know much about Marie Thérèse, Madame Royale, either. When I have seen her appear in historical novels she is typically a child with an apparent attitude problem – and I was sure that there was more to her than that, however until now I didn’t know just what it was. Nagel’s book follows Marie Thérèse from the opulent Bourbon court, to incarceration at the Temple Prison, ...more
Mary Simonsen
Jul 23, 2012 Mary Simonsen rated it really liked it
Marie Therese (1778-1851) is the story of the only surviving child of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI of France. Because of their tragic end on the guillotine, the royal couple is a favorite of biographers and historical novelists, and the first third of the book recounts the circumstances that led to their execution, the difference being that, in Marie Therese, we are looking at these events through the eyes of a young girl. The downward spiral that began with the storming of the Bastille and le ...more
Kim
Dec 23, 2009 Kim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, audio, france
Marie Antoinette is perhaps one of the most visible queens of all time, her exploits and tragic fate known to even those not well-versed in history. It is because of that notority that she often overshadows the fact that, while the queen herself did not live to see France come out of the fires of the Revolution, her firstborn child did indeed survive and continue on with her life.

Nagel provides an excellent window into the life of Marie Therese, from her idyllic childhood brought up by two adori
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Jen
Yet another book from my Borders grave robbery. I've read a lot about the French revolution, and especially Marie Antoinette (she's a thoroughly intriguing character), but not much about what happened after. And especially not much about Marie-Therese, the last survivor of that family.

The book starts out with a sketch of her parents. I appreciated the author not falling into what has to be a seductive trap--writing a bio of Marie Antoinette's daughter but focusing on Marie Antoinette instead. A
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Amy
This book... I don't even know how to grade this book. I feel like it's more like 2 1/2 stars, but since it's not TWO stars I rounded up instead. The problem is that while this book is very nicely paced and interesting, it's hard to trust it's accuracy. In fact, it lost any believe-ability in my mind from pretty much the beginning, when the author tried to claim that Louis VXI had an affair with a woman on staff to prove his fertility and fathered a child with her, and then later had an affair w ...more
Heather
Jun 26, 2012 Heather rated it it was amazing
This was an intriguing biography of a little known figure. While Marie-Therese's mother and father (Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI) are very well known, the fate of their only surviving daughter is less understood.

For as much as I've read about Marie Antoinette, there were many things in this book that surprised me. Maybe I missed it the first time, but I was shocked that Louis XVI had been unfaithful to his wife (with her best friend, the Duchesse de Polignac), and that it resulted in a half-s
...more
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