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Marie-Therese, Child of Terror: The Fate of…

Marie-Therese, Child of Terror: The Fate of Marie Antoinette's Daughter

by Susan Nagel

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Good view of French Revolution history, but very long book. The ups and downs of Marie Therese's were continuous. Lots and lots of French name dropping, almost became tedious. Glad when it was done. ( )
  Pmaurer | Oct 29, 2013 |
Marie-Thérèse, sometimes called Madame Royale, was the daughter of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. As a young girl, she spent years living under severe restraints including a three-year stint in prison. Later in life, she was a member of the Bourbon diaspora, living a peripatetic life traveling from one place of exile to another. She participated in two restorations, only to be sent back on the road again, along with her royal family and its retinue. She was an integral yet never determinative member of a family that remained fascinating to millions while it became more and more mired in irrelevancy. Nagel, apparently an ultra-royalist, takes Marie-Thérèse's side at every opportunity, which is not necessarily the job of a biographer. She writes well, though, and her book has become the number one "reliable source" used by Wikipedia for articles on the later Bourbons and related topics. I have to say, however, that the shaggy dog story about the "dark count and countess" takes up too much space and time. ( )
  jburlinson | Dec 26, 2012 |
The bummer of historic biographies: nobody makes it out alive. ( )
  DSeanW | Aug 7, 2011 |
I heard the author talk about this book at my library. It wasn't a great program, (the author just read from a script) but it was enough to intrigue me to want to know how the story ended, but I knew I'd never be able to get through reading the 400 plus pages(translates to 15 discs). So, I listened to the audio edition. And that was a great choice on my part. I was a fascinating story about the history of the French government after Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, based around what happened to Marie-Therese plus some intrigue about a possible switch. But there were so many players, that it was sometimes hard to remember who did what and who was who. But, I wanted to read more non-fiction this year and this was a good story. ( )
  Evynrude | Aug 22, 2009 |
Marie-Therese was only a child when her parents, King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette of France, were beheaded during the French Revolution. After a childhood of privilege, she faced great deprivation as a teenager and endured constant struggle through the rest of her life, yet somehow managed to remain dedicated to France and her people. Marie-Therese was an inspirational woman and Susan Nagel has done well on writing her first biography. I have always wondered exactly what happened to Marie Antoinette’s children. So often, history focuses on her and her husband, ignoring that one of the children survived and went on to live a mostly healthy life.

Contrasted with Marie-Therese’s story, there are short snippets about another woman, “The Dark Countess”, whose story has convinced many that she was the real Marie-Therese. There was another girl very similar in appearance to Marie-Therese, but who died at a much younger age, so the identity of this woman has never been discovered. This story was relevant, but I was glad that it only had a small place in the book, as I thought the real Marie-Therese deserved her own story.

This book is horrifying to read at times, particularly when the royal family is imprisoned and treated disgracefully. As a historian, Nagel can tease out all the details and we can learn how unjust their treatment was. The entire family lived less extravagantly than their forebears and essentially fell prey to the ambition of their cousin, who made the most of a bad situation. The royal family remained loyal to France despite their despicable treatment as prisoners.

Nagel’s writing is always fluid and easy to read. At times, I did get bogged down in the vast number of people that I was supposed to be remembering, especially regarding the Dark Countess. I think that if I knew a bit more about post-Revolution France, or even if I spoke French, I would have had an easier time of it.

Regardless, I enjoyed this a lot and I felt I learned a great deal about one of those parts of history that isn’t normally focused on. Marie-Therese was an interesting person who led a fascinating life, even in its extremely unhappy parts. As the only royal to survive, she had a great legacy on her shoulders and she bore it well. I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in history.

http://chikune.com/blog/?p=179 ( )
  littlebookworm | Aug 12, 2008 |
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The biography of Marie Antoinette's only child to survive the revolution and the woman who helped shape the future of nineteenth-century Europe.

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