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

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  1,246 ratings  ·  114 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 th
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Hardcover, 418 pages
Published March 18th 2008 by Bloomsbury USA (first published May 12th 2006)
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Best Memoir / Biography / Autobiography
432nd out of 2,696 books — 2,926 voters
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Marie-Antoinette in Fiction
13th out of 45 books — 63 voters


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Elena
"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
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
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
Lynne-marie
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
SlushTurtle
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.
Alice
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Holly
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
Louise
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
Gloriavirtutisumbra
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
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
Helen Azar
This book was the first one I read which was solely about Marie Therese and not her more famous parents. I thought it gave a pretty overview of her life. I especially found it useful for learning the history of French royalty post- Marie Antoinette/Louis XVI executions, which I wasn't completely on the ball about... I especially liked the few bits about the identity conspiracy, does every royal who went through some sort of a turmoil have to be ttached to those types of conspiracies?
Nadine
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.
Katie
Absolutely loved this book. My passion for the subject matter may have helped gloss over some of the narrative deficiencies, but I ate this story up and it left me hungry for more information on the Bourbon dynasty and the craziness of French history in general. I don't know why Hollywood hasn't seized on this and other incredible stories from the era, instead of wasting its time on endless remakes of worn-out comic book heroes. The only complaint I have about Nagel's work is that it is so blata ...more
Jules
So many unsourced affirmations. So I stopped reading. Why do everyone hate citations these days?
Kim
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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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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Stephanie
Whew--this is an epic biography detailing the life of Marie Antoinette's daughter, Marie-Therese. The first section portrays her life as the royal princess, much of which was not new knowledge to me, as I have read other novels and biographies on Marie Antoinette. However, reading about the family's imprisonment during the French Terror was new for me and completely different from any references that I have read previously, always being from Napolean or Josephine Bonaparte's perspective. The tor ...more
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
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
Heather
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
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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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Caroline
I freely confess I know very little about French history. Most of what I do know is largely in connection with English history of the same period, and my primary interest there is medieval, rather than early modern. So I was pleasantly surprised to find myself utterly unable to put this book down, thoroughly engrossed in this life of the daughter of Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI.

Marie-Therese had a remarkable life, daughter to a King, royal orphan, emblem of France's monarchy in exile, niece an
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Alison
I am not quite done with this yet, but I am very close. Also, it's overdue at the library and needs to go back tomorrow, and that will happen whether or not I'm done.

Anyway, this is the story of Marie Antoinette's daughter, Marie-Therese. I picked this up because I have found the stories of the Tudors absolutely fascinating. I've seen the movie "Marie Antoinette" a couple of times and have been curious about the Bourbons, and so I thought this would be a good way to learn more about this royal f
...more
Ilana
Going into this, I had zero knowledge of the Marie Antoinette and her family out side of the pop-y trash that everyone knows. Which is to say, nothing. This was a remarkably interesting read. Spanning from Marie Antoinette's first coming to France to Marie Therese's death. I learned so much interesting French history. (Having just been to Paris and blowing off visiting Versailles I was angry at myself.) The book did get slightly less fascinating once Marie Therese left the prison, but nonetheles ...more
Shannon
Excellent biography of Madame Royale! She managed to overcome a horrific adolescence and became a strong, brave woman. However, neither side of her family proved to be very loving and supportive. The Habsburgs really were not interested, and her Bourbon uncles used and emotionally manipulated her. Although a victim of circumstance, she stayed strong and even garnered the respect and admiration of none other than Napoleon Bonaparte.
Danielle
This biography is phenomenal! It reads like a novel. This is one of the best biographies I have ever read. This woman's life was so full, so varied that it really is hard to grasp. There is a reason she was the only member of her family that Napolean respected. It is well worth a read if you have any interest in the history of France.
Christina Dudley
I tore through this absolutely fascinating book. If you're a fan of Marie Antoinette or French Revolution lore, you will find this hard to put down. The passages detailing the family's imprisonment in the Tuileries and the treatment of little Louis Charles made me furious AND made me cry. Marie Therese's long life after her family's death was rather less thrilling, and, without the help of family trees or pictures in the kindle edition, sometimes hard to follow, but I filled in all that French h ...more
Bridget
It's a giant (thorough) story of Marie Antoinette's life and continues through her daughter's journey as a pawn of Europe. The one thing that I'd say is the author doesn't do a perfect job of taking the known history and putting it into an easily readable narrative. I don't doubt that she did a ton of research to find all of the details, diaries, letters, all that. But there's got to be a better way of describing discrepancies than just "X said this, but Y said this." Also, while I appreciate an ...more
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