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Marie Antoinette: The Journey

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  30,656 ratings  ·  1,193 reviews
Brilliantly written, a work of impeccable scholarship. An utterly riveting and intensely moving book by one of our finest biographers.

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
Paperback, 512 pages
Published September 12th 2006 by Anchor Books (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 (thou…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)
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Average rating 3.93  · 
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Alice Poon
Apr 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, favorites

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
K.D. Absolutely
Sep 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, french, bio
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
Jane Vandre
Sep 02, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Ana Mardoll
Apr 25, 2010 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
This is an interesting and extremely readable biography of the late Queen.
This somewhat removes the Queens actual power and agency.
As the monarchy failed under Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette stepped up politically.
She was a major player in revolutionary events. For details check out John Hardman's 'Marie-Antoinette: The Making of a French Queen" which focuses almost exclusively on her actions leading up to and during the revolution.
Her death is memorialized in every detail.
Yet many of my ancestors
Mar 20, 2010 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
Harriet M.
Jul 24, 2007 rated it it was ok
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 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
Jun 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
And it only took me 11 years to finish it...
I've read some great historical fiction on Marie Antoinette (Juliet Grey's trilogy starting with Becoming Marie Antoinette comes to mind) but this was my first nonfiction read on this doomed queen. It was comprehensive and packed full of information, but never dragged. This book also reinforced why I prefer to read nonfiction history books in paperback/hardcover rather than on my Kindle--there were lots of pictures included throughout the text. I really like it when history books do this because ...more
Dec 05, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Nov 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
2.5 stars - It was alright, an average book.

Certainly not textbook dry, but it is still a 600+ page biography, so not exactly a page turner either. I did however want to high-five the author when she sarcastically referred to convents as the place to put Queens and noble wives that were no longer convenient for their husband/father/brother.
First Sentence: On 2 November 1755 the Queen-Empress was in labour all day with her fifteenth child.
Caidyn (BW Reviews; he/him/his)

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
Mar 31, 2009 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
Oct 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
An absolute intriguing historical figure. I think all the injustice she faced makes me just love her more!
Jan 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Fascinating, well-written, and tragic.
Aurélien Thomas
With a nice and very accessible writing style, we go through 'The Journey' more like through a novel than an historical biography; making for a quick and pleasing read. The fact the author deals straightforwardly with Marie-Antoinette as a woman and a mother above all, beyond the historical and well-known character, also allows for an original outlook helping to sympathise with her.

Simple pawn on the geopolitical chessboard of the times, married at 15 and against all expectations just so as to
Sep 23, 2016 rated it liked it
I saw the movie based on this book in the theater when it came out, and I didn't like it that much. I guess it was too subtle for me. I saw it again recently and liked it more.

So I decided to read the book. The movie only goes up to the leaving of Versailles, not the horrible denouement of the story. In some ways, that fits the tone of the film better--the fall from grace, the decline of Eden, and we all know what happens next. And the book turns at this point from an analysis and interpretation
Oct 15, 2008 rated it liked it
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
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
May 18, 2015 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
Aug 28, 2008 rated it liked it
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
 SaЯRah Muhammad
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
Tarah Luke
Apr 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good biography of a very unfortunate and unlucky person who became the target of public hatred for no real discernible reason. Good introduction to her life, though I did spot a couple of minor historical errors that only nerds like me would notice or care about. It is, however, not as unbiased as one would hope, as Fraser cannot hide her pro-Marie Antoinette feelings, especially toward the end when her situation gets bad. Overall, though, well-written.
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was different from what I was expecting, but in a very good way. I was expecting it to read more like a story, but it is very much documentary. I was very impressed by the author's depth of investigation into the historical record to help her reader get a real feel for who Marie Antoinette really was and also to uncover fact from gossip and hearsay. The book is very readable, compelling, and eye-opening.
Feb 14, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting! But not great. I was not impressed by the writing and the epilogue dragged on for far too long.
Shahine Ardeshir
Jul 19, 2012 rated it liked it
If you're interested in an unbiased, detailed account of the life of Marie Antoinette, this is the right book to pick up. Students of history are always taught that they should refer to multiple sources to form an opinion about a historic event or personality - and that's exactly what Antonia Fraser did.

With painstaking detail, the author has put together jigsaw pieces from multiple sources to tell the story of the unfortunate queen of France, Marie Antoinette. This book is well written, detaile
Jan 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.

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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” 31 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!” 11 likes
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