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Marie Antoinette's Darkest Days: Prisoner No. 280 in the Conciergerie

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  147 ratings  ·  53 reviews
This compelling book begins on the 2nd of August 1793, the day Marie Antoinette was torn from her family s arms and escorted from the Temple to the Conciergerie, a thick-walled fortress turnedprison. It was also known as the waiting room for the guillotine because prisoners only spent a day or two here before their conviction and subsequent execution. The ex-queen surely k ...more
Hardcover, 392 pages
Published December 1st 2016 by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (first published August 1st 2016)
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Will Bashor One more day, Kris. Happy holidays! And I hope you won't be disappointed!

One more day, Kris. Happy holidays! And I hope you won't be disappointed!


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Nov 10, 2016 rated it liked it
*3.5 STARS*

Thank you to Netgalley & Rowman & Littlefield for my ARC in exchange for a fair & honest review*

This is a moving and comprehensive account of Prisoner No 280's final days, leading to her fate with the guillotine. Now known as widow Capet she was formerly known as Marie Antoinette, Queen of France.

Austrian by birth, Marie Antoinette was seen by the French people as a rather cold and thoughtless person, who continued to live a particularly lavish lifestyle whilst they were were left wit
Jul 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book reads like a novel and I zipped right through it.

After Louis XVI is executed Marie Antoinette is ripped from her family and her incarceration at the Conciergerie begins. She's sick both physically and mentally and she'll spend 76 days in this dungeon before her death and her ultimate beheading on October 16 1793.

There are escape plans, a trial that is a farce, accusations of incest and plenty more to keep you interested. Definitely recommend.
Oct 29, 2016 rated it liked it
Marie Antoinette, also known as Widow Capet, No. 280, was imprisoned in the dungeons of the Conciergerie prison for two and half months until the guillotine took her life and finally ended her suffering; mentally and physically. The Revolutionary press did not help her situation by printing false stories which went too far with their hatred of the Queen who wanted her head at any cost. Not all Parisians were so viciously against her as many attempted to rescue Marie and her young son who was kep ...more
Heidi The Reader
Dec 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
I thought that after the King and Queen of France were taken by the Revolutionaries that what happened went like, "You were the monarchs but now we have a Republic. Off with your heads." and boom, it was done. How wrong I was. Did you know, that both Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were given very brief public "trials"? Did you know that Marie Antoinette languished in a prison for weeks after her husband was executed? Did you know that the bodies of both former monarchs were dumped in unmarked gr ...more
Informative and Memorable!

MARIE ANTOINETTE was born November 2, 1755 and died by decapitation on October 16, 1793. She was executed only hours after receiving a guilty verdict, and the horror story of her last 76 days of incarceration is told here.

Will Bashor writes an enticing and detailed work of non-fiction describing the harsh and frightening prison conditions, the ex-Queen's crude treatment in the cell, her brutally long days of trial interrogation (while in declining health) and the horrif

Diane S ☔
Nov 24, 2016 rated it liked it
A sad and harrowing look at the last days of Marie Antoinette's life. Taken away from her children, her husband already guillotined, she is kept form while as a pawn in the political maneuverings of the time, treated kindly by a few, cruelly by many. Plans for her escape doomed time and time again. In ill health and heartbroken her days are a monotonous and repetitive passing of time.

Impeccably researched, maps of the prison included, interesting reading but for me it lacked heart. A recitation
Jun 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What an unexpected find! My perceptions of Marie Antoinette were previously influenced by A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Famously, Marie Antoinette was to have cried, "if they have no bread, then let them eat cake". King Louis VII and Marie Antoinette indulged in excesses while the citizenry starved.

Marie Antoinette's Darkest Days: Prisoner No. 280 in the Conciergerie is a thoroughly researched historical masterpiece. Written in a novelistic style, documentation of her seventy-six days
Jill Mackin
Jun 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Excellent account of Marie Antoinette's last days. Details given of her daily life and the people who were around her abound. Also a very good account of her trial. Highly recommend.
Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Overall, enjoyed the book. I might have given this book a higher rating, except for two main reasons. First, there are various spelling errors and awkward grammatical passages in the book. More importantly, though, are some puzzling omissions. For example, the author provides us almost minute-by-minute coverage of Marie Antoinette's trial. However, he jumps almost immediately from the conclusion of the trial to the sentence handed down to her... entirely skipping the jury's actual pronouncement ...more
Jul 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-history
Thanks to publisher Rowman & Littlefield and Netgalley for a free egalley copy for review.

This book is a gateway drug. It could lure impressionable young people into history. People associate history with men, but statistics show it often affects women. Know the warning signs. You can pretend not to notice she's doing Doris Kearns Goodwin and tell yourself it's only a phase. But by the time you find the Margaret MacMillan hidden in her mattress, it'll probably be too late – she'll already be exp
Caidyn (he/him/his)
So, I've read Marie Antoinette: The Journey, which is a very general book that covers all of her life. This one only covers her final seventy days, much like Alison Weir's The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn only covers the last months of Anne Boleyn's life. It's an intense look at what she went through, the plots that people conspired, and her feelings. I thought that Will Bashor did an amazing job and he disclaims in the introduction that at times it could read like a fiction novel, ...more
Dec 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Book received from NetGalley.

Oh my, poor Marie Antoinette. I have read a few books on this French Queen, but they mostly focus on her childhood and time as co-ruler of France. I had some idea that her captivity leading up to her execution was horrifying, but I never knew exactly how bad. This book's research was phenomenal, looking into a part of French history most know of but know little about. I recommend this for anyone who enjoys the history of that era or area.
I received a free copy via Netgalley.

Although I doubted for a while that there'll be a non-fiction book that will get a 5-star rating from me I finally found one that I truly enjoyed.

Starting 'Marie Antoinette's Darkest Days' I knew hardly anything about her last months in the Conciergerie. I've been to Paris recently and saw the building but apart from knowing that it used to be a prison there was no other connection.
When I start to read a non-fiction book I want to learn something new and e
May 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Well researched and a nice take on the famous story of Marie Antoinette. While most stories on the subject end when Antoinette was arrested, this one starts there. The combination of easy to read writing and interesting images makes this a great one for non-fiction beginners, but will also keep non-fiction pros engaged. If you are interested in the subject, I say pick this one up.

**I received this copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**
Toni Osborne
Nov 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Prisoner No. 280 in the Conciergerie

This unique account of an intriguing period of history is meticulously researched to give us the most accurate version of the events and is so cleverly crafted it manages to read like a novel. Drawing from records Mr. Basher has captured what Marie-Antoinette may have endured during the two and half month imprisonment prior to her execution.

The book begins on the 2nd of august 1793 the Marie- Antoinette was escorted from the temple to the Conciergerie, known a
Oct 20, 2016 rated it liked it
While there are plenty of Marie Antoinette biographies, this one sets itself apart by focusing only on her time at the Conciergerie. The reader won't get any glittering court intrigues, just a dark, damp, horrid prison cell after another.

While seemingly well researched, I found the book in a strange niche. For the casual reader who might not be intimately acquainted with all the comings and goings of the French Revolution, it will seem almost suspended in time, with very little information about
Mar 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In a follow-up to his award winning "Marie Antoinette's Head: The Royal Hairdresser, The Queen, and the Revolution" Will Bashor continues Marie Antoinette's story with an equally well researched "Marie Antoinette's Darkest Days: Prisoner No. 280 in the Conciergerie". I did know about the unsuccessful attempt to save the French Royal family by Swedish Count Hans Axel von Fersen. But Will Bashor tells about various other attempts to free Marie Antoinette, all equally unsuccessful. We learn of the ...more
Feb 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
A sad recounting of Marie Antoinette's final months in prison, her trial, and her execution. Bashor draws from several sources to present details of her life (the sections about her incarceration are fascinating if you've not read about it in depth) and how she was viewed at the time, but ultimately leaves it up to the reader to ponder the extent of her guilt and the justice of her punishment.
May 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Painstakingly researched to the point of tedium sometimes (names, dates, "did you know about this", "no, I've never seen that person") but a moving account of the final days of Marie Antoinette. I had no idea that she was so closely guarded during the entire time, to the point of being observed while changing clothes!
Lucy Pollard-Gott
Mar 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: france, biography
Will Bashor offers the reader a gripping narrative history, unremitting in its gaze on the horrors of imprisonment and the mockery of justice that was the Revolutionary tribunal in the years of the Reign of Terror, principally 1793-1794. This is a book about the revenge exacted by the winners against the losers, a phenomenon which, in Marie Antoinette’s case, magnified and distorted her acknowledged faults, laying the whole burden of the nation’s anger upon her shoulders. She carried this burden ...more
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Marie Antoinette's Darkest Days is aptly named, given the subject matter. Though I'd known the basics about her imprisonment and execution, Bashor's book brought to life in great detail the hellish, difficult days and nights that she endured in prison. The historical research was immense (and many pages of notes and references are included, if you're the sort that likes to go back to primary sources!)

I found it fascinating that there were so many plots to try to save Marie Antoinette's life. Not
Kara Babcock
It’s entirely a coincidence that I read about Marie Antoinette in Trainwreck just prior to picking up Marie Antoinette’s Darkest Days. That being said, it was nice to have a little primer from Sady Doyle about why Antoinette is such a fascinating character from a feminist perspective. Here, Will Bashor pieces together Antoinette’s experiences while imprisoned in the Conciergerie prior to her trial and execution. He draws upon a wealth of primary sources in an attempt to fill a gap in his rea ...more
Elspeth G. Perkin
"My blood alone remains: take it, but do not make me suffer long.”

From the moment I read the opening poignant words voiced by Marie Antoinette in her last hours and the author’s explained notable intentions for writing about the doomed woman’s darkest days, I had this unexpected positive feeling I may have found something special. I was right, not only did Marie Antoinette's Darkest Days: Prisoner No. 280 in the Conciergerie end as an impressive nonjudgmental toned narrative that encouraged fina
Sep 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
All my reviews are on my site:

I will admit I do not know much at all about Marie Antoinette. I read a fiction book with an alternate history about her that piqued my curiosity in regard to her life(Insatiable: A Macabre History of France
by Ginger Myrick). Darkest Days does not deal with her whole life, it focuses on the last few months of her life, specifically her 76 days of life in the Conciergerie.

Will Bashor obv
Mar 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-challenge
Another great book that tackles a really specific and under explored aspect of Marie Antoinette's life. This one tackles her time in the Consierege prison including her trial and excecution. This book was obviously well researched and well written.
Jul 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I’ve read a few novels over the years about Marie Antoinette and the French Revolution, both fiction and nonfiction. I find this period of history fascinating. The story of the end of the French monarchy and the Reign of Terror is both interesting, compelling, and to me, unfinished. People have their opinions of what led up to the Revolution, who was to blame, how it could’ve been avoided, who was right, who was wrong, but as with most major historical events, there is no end all, be all definit ...more
Jul 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
I personally felt Marie Antoinette was given a raw deal. She may have been frivolous and a bit of an airhead. But did she deserve to die? No! In my opinion, she could have been sent back to Austria. The French never liked her from the beginning. That much was easy to see. Was she trying to rule France with own evil machinations? I doubt it. The trial was clearly set against her and the court was looking for nothing less than death. Reading this book made feel pity for this beleaguered queen. Fro ...more
Sue Fernandez
Jul 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
Thank you NetGalley and Roman and Littlefield for this ARC in exchange for my honest review. I've never read a biography of Marie Antoinette before, and I was happy to receive this one. It read like a novel, and I learned things I hadn't known. She comes off as, perhaps being out of touch, but not the horrible person I'd always envisioned. This book was a good account, fair in it's treatment/discussion of this period of her life, and death. If you enjoy historical reads, this one is a great choi ...more
Doris L.
Marie Antoinette is taken from family, home, and a life of splendor. She is taken to the most heinous, notorious prison at that time. Everything negative you can possibly imagine, rats, bugs, the noxious smells and that's only the beginning. The horror of the prison and the length of time she is there, does not even compare to the horrendous crimes she's charged with. Very well written, interesting, entertaining. 5 Stars
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Will Bashor, MBA, Ph.D., also has a B.A. degree in French and an M.A. degree in French literature from Ohio University. He earned his Ph.D. in International Studies from the American Graduate School in Paris where he gathered letters, newspapers, journals, and plays during his research for his trilogy on Marie Antoinette. Professor at Franklin University and Southern New Hampshire University, he i ...more

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