P.J. Sullivan's Reviews > Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette by Joan Haslip
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May 13, 13

bookshelves: history, biography, nonfiction

This book presents Marie Antoinette as a kindhearted and generous person. It sympathizes with her difficulties in a foreign and not-so-friendly court. But it also acknowledges her frivolity, her extravagant lifestyle, and her irresponsible spending. In Chapter 22 it calls her stupid and arrogant, “a spoilt, capricious woman, who always acted on impulse and never stopped to reason.”

There is some new material here. In addition to public archives in Vienna and Paris, the author accessed many private archives, diaries, and letters, including the queen's correspondence with her mother and her brother, and her secret love letters with Count Axel Fersen. The reader is treated to an occasional ribald ditty from the streets of Paris or Versailles.

A good introduction to Marie Antoinette, especially her earlier years, but not necessarily to the politics that surrounded her. There are better sources for the political context. A big book, thorough and well researched. Indexed and illustrated.
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