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Marie Antoinette: The Journey by Antonia…

Marie Antoinette: The Journey

by Antonia Fraser

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Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
I have been interested in Marie Antoinette since I was a child and have read several biographies about her over the years. I particularly liked this one because Antonia Fraser attempts to tell the story as if we do not know the terrible ending--hence the subtitle, "The Journey." In other words, Fraser avoids allowing the events of the French Revolution and the specter of the guillotine to influence her interpretation of the earlier years of Marie Antoinette's life. Like the best biographers, Fraser beautifully renders the essential texture of life in 18th-century France; she writes in her introduction that she was immensely moved while doing research at the French National Archives, where she examined the tiny fabric swatches with pinpricks where Marie Antoinette had indicated her choice of a dress for a particular occasion. That attention to detail informs this book so that the reader feels immersed in Antoinette's life and times. ( )
  kimberlice | Sep 6, 2014 |
Summary: A biography based on a more intimate view into the life of the Queen of France.

Personal reaction: The first time I read this book it was the summer of 8th grade so you can only imagine how bored I was with this book. The second time I read it I was a senior in high school so it wasn't so bad since I actually had interest in European history. Although the book did get a little tedious to read at times, I really enjoyed this book and learned so much about this period of time and the dynamics of the monarchy in France.

Classroom extension ideas:
1. Lesson on the French Revolution
2. Students can compare historically significant women in power along with Marie Antoinette
  nwoodley | Apr 21, 2014 |
I knew a little about Marie Antoinette, not loads but you know the usual - Austrian princess, unhappy marriage, decadence, blamed for the revolution, misquoted with the 'let them eat cake', beheaded, the end type knowledge that everyone knows. I mean, it went a little further, but no more than the stuff that got covered in an hour long documentary. With that in mind, I gotta confess that when I was reminded of how much that period intrigues me, I kinda jumped all over the chance at getting a bit more knowledge on the subject.

I was a bit wary about reading a deeply historical biography but I was so pleasantly surprised at the way the author wrote it. There was a wealth of information, but I rarely felt like I was being purely bombarded with history. It was easy to read, with quotes and notes to back up facts and to provide background to events that weren't covered in depth.

The book covers her childhood in Austria under such a strict mother, to her marriage and departure to France. The years that she spent as the beloved Dauphine, and then to Queen until her fall from grace via libelous propaganda (99% of which was untrue), rumour, scandal and eventual torment and death.

It was funny, I read this obviously knowing how it goes to end but as I was reading it was hard for me to continue at times knowing what fate would bring. Marie Antoinette was flawed, but ultimately a good person. She had vices which at least contributed the background to her downfall in terms of giving people an opportunity to take her flaws and manipulate them to a far more sordid and vicious conclusion due to her frivolous nature, her gambling and her spending excesses. Lewd accusations about her relationships (both male and female) were made. This was never more sadly made obvious when one of her friends (Princesse de Lamballe) was violently murdered and her body desecrated by a mob with her head mounted on a pike and paraded outside the building where the crowd chanted for the queen to come out and place a kiss on the lips of her favourite.

When you read the way the cards fell around her and her family, the stars aligning to make the dominoes fall in the most tragic way you can't help but, with the benefit of hindsight, wonder how no one saw it coming. It's a sad story, made doubly so when you watch her downfall and how the propaganda is produced to dehumanise her as she desperately tries to look after her family.

If you have an interest in history, in particular that time in history I would highly recommend it. I'm hoping her biography on Mary Queen of Scots (another tragic queen) is as good as this as I plan on reading that at one point in the future. ( )
  sunnycouger | Sep 20, 2013 |
This was initially a good, fast read, but as I got further into the book I found myself tiring of Marie Antoinette and wanting to read something else. It became a bit of a chore. I was disappointed because I'd always had an interest in finding out more about her since I saw a documentary on Blue Peter was I was very young. ( )
1 vote Fluffyblue | Jul 5, 2013 |
I've got to admit with all the things we have heard about Marie Antoinette through History, it was always with an unsympathetic edge - indicating that both she and Louis deserved their decapitation. Most of us know her for being extravagent and for the saying - let them eat cake - which according to this book by Antonia Fraser, was never her saying. This is a sympathetic view of the trials and tribulations of one of France's most well recognised historical figures. I enjoyed reading it and have to admit after reading it my feelings towards the Austrian Queen are more sympathetic. In some ways I didn't want it to end with her beheading - which we all know happened and history can not change this. It's an enlighting read into her life and well worth checking out the story of a Queen who was targeted by the French people from the very beginning.
  ninadangelo | May 12, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Antonia Fraserprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Peters, DonadaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Book description
blurb: France’s ironic queen, Marie Antoinette, wrongly accused of uttering the infamous ‘Let them eat cake,’ was alternately revered and reviled during her lifetime. For centuries since, she had been the object of debate, speculation, and the fascination so often accorded illustrious figures in history. Married in mere girlhood, the essentially lighthearted child was thrust onto the royal stage and commanded by circumstance to play a significant role in European history. Antonia Fraser’s lavish and engaging portrait excited compassion and regard for all aspects of the queen, immersing the reader not only in the coming of age of a graceful woman, but in the culture of an unparalleled time and place.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385489498, Paperback)

In the past, Antonia Fraser's bestselling histories and biographies have focused on people and events in her native England, from Mary Queen of Scots to Faith and Treason: The Story of the Gunpowder Plot. Now she crosses the Channel to limn the life of France's unhappiest queen, bringing along her gift for fluent storytelling, vivid characterization, and evocative historical background. Marie Antoinette (1755-93) emerges in Fraser's sympathetic portrait as a goodhearted girl woefully undereducated and poorly prepared for the dynastic political intrigues into which she was thrust at age 14, when her mother, Empress Maria Theresa, married her off to the future Louis XVI to further Austria's interests in France. Far from being the licentious monster later depicted by the radicals who sent her to the guillotine at the height of the French Revolution, young Marie Antoinette was quite prudish, as well as thoroughly humiliated by her husband's widely known failure to have complete intercourse with her for seven long years (the gory details were reported to any number of concerned royal parties, including her mother and brother). She compensated by spending lavishly on clothes and palaces, but Fraser points out that this hardly made her unique among 18th-century royalty, and in any case the causes of the Revolution went far beyond one woman's frivolities. The moving final chapters show Marie Antoinette gaining in dignity and courage as the Revolution stripped her of everything, subjected her to horrific brutalities (a mob paraded the head of her closest female friend on a pike below her window), and eventually took her life. Fraser makes no attempt to hide the queen's shortcomings, in particular her poor political skills, but focuses on her personal warmth and noble bearing during her final ordeal. It's another fine piece of popular historical biography to add to Fraser's already impressive bibliography. --Wendy Smith

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:20 -0400)

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"Famously known as the eighteenth-century French queen whose excesses have become legend, Marie Antoinette was blamed for instigating the French Revolution. But the story of her journey, begun as a fourteen-year-old sent from Vienna to marry the future Louis XVI, to her courageous defense before she was sent to the guillotine, reveals a woman of greater complexity and character than we have previously understood. We stand beside Marie Antoinette and witness the drama of her life as she becomes a scapegoat of the Ancien Regime, when her faults were minor in comparison to the punishments inflicted on her."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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