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Marie Antoinette: The Last Queen of France
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312283334, Paperback)This highly readable translation of French historian Evelyne Lever's 1991 biography captures all the drama and pathos of Marie Antoinette's short life. Born in 1755, this carefree, fun-loving daughter of Austrian empress Maria Theresa inherited neither her mother's political shrewdness nor her sense of duty. She was married off at 14 to the stolid, clumsy French Dauphin, who would not fully consummate their marriage for another seven years, at which point he was King Louis XVI and their marital difficulties were the subject of public ridicule. She consoled herself by retreating to the artificial village she constructed at Trianon, where she could be free of the court etiquette she hated and indulge in expensive amusements that only increased her unpopularity. Her rare incursions into politics were just as ill judged; she alienated the French nobility with attempts to further Austria's diplomatic goals, and from the first rumblings of revolution in 1788, she influenced Louis to take a hard line on royal power when compromise might have saved the monarchy and prevented their executions in 1793. Lever does not soften Marie Antoinette's faults or downplay her poor judgment, but most readers will finish this absorbing narrative feeling very sorry for a pretty, goodhearted, but fundamentally frivolous woman thrown into a historical moment whose demands were beyond her. --Wendy Smith
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:02:49 -0400)
Leading French historian, Evelyne Lever tells the compelling story of the last, and most infamous, Queen of France. She draws on little explored sources including Austrian and Swedish archives and the correspondence of foreign ambassadors to Paris to paint vivid portraits of the Queen, her inner circle and the lavish court life at Versailles, as well as the tragic events leading to her death. She describes the queen's life in detail, from her birth in Vienna, through her turbulent, unhappy marriage, the intrigues of life at court, to the final bloody turmoil of the French Revolution and her beheading. She also describes Marie Antoinette's relationship with the Swedish Count Axel Fersen, the grand passion of her life, the seething social and political climate of prerevolutionary France and the degree to which the Queen remained wilfully out of touch with the nation's economic troubles.
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