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Antonia Fraser is the author of many internationally bestselling historical works, including Love and Louis XIV, Marie Antoinette, which was made into a film by Sofia Coppola, The Wives of Henry VIII, Mary Queen of Scots, Faith and Treason: The Story of the Gunpowder Plot, and Perilous Question: Reform or Revolution? Britain on the Brink, 1832. She is also the author of Must You Go? My Life with Harold Pinter. She has received the Wolfson Prize for History, the 2000 Norton Medlicott Medal of Britain's Historical Association, and the Franco-British Society's Enid McLeod Literary Prize. She was made a Dame of the British Empire for services to Literature in 2011
Fraser (Mary Queen of Scots) has written an exciting biography of a young Austrian woman named Marie Antoinette, the future bride of a future king of France, during a period of increasing political unrest. This volume moves quickly, but not without the most interesting of historical detail, through the courts of Austria and France. Marie Antoinette was the bride at 14 to Louis Auguste, her senior by just over a year; they both lacked the maturity for marriage, let alone the political leadership to command a European power. Fraser leads us through the daily lives of the two young people constantly before the public eye; from the planned marriage we move into an era of political and social revolution, knowing what the final violent outcome will be yet hoping for a different end. A well-researched biography that may cause one to rethink the role in which history has cast Marie Antoinette, this complements but doesn't replace Evelyne Lever's slightly less sympathetic Marie Antoinette: The Last Queen of France (LJ 6/1/00). Highly recommended for academic and public libraries. Bruce H. Webb, Clarion Univ. of Pennsylvania Lib. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
A child-princess is married off to a husband of limited carnal appetite. Her indiscretions and navet, scorned by elderly dowagers, are coupled with charity, joie de vivre and almost divine glamour but her life is cut brutally short. The queen of France's life is rich in emotional resonance, riddled with sexual subplots and personal tragedies, and provides fertile ground for biographers. Fraser's sizable new portrait avoids the saccharine romance of Evelyne Lever's recent Marie Antoinette, balancing empathy for the pleasure-loving queen with an awareness of the inequalities that fed revolution after all, Marie herself was fully conscious of them. Her subject shows no let-them-eat cake arrogance, but is deeply (even surprisingly) compassionate, with a "public reputation for sweetness and mercy" that is only later sullied by vituperative pamphleteers and bitter unrest. She would sometimes be trapped by ingenuousness, and later by a fatal sense of duty. Yet her graceful bearing, acquired under the tutelage of her demanding mother, the empress Maria Teresa, made her an unusually popular princess before she was scapegoated as "Madame Deficit" and much, much worse. The portrait is drawn delicately, with pleasant touches of humor (a long-awaited baby is conceived around the time of Benjamin Franklin's visit: "Perhaps the King found this first contact with the virile New World inspirational"). Fraser's approach is controlled and thoughtful, avoiding the extravagance of Alison Weir's royal biographies. Her queen is neither heroine nor villain, but a young wife and mother who, in her journey into maturity, finds herself caught in a deadly vise. Color and b&w illus. (on sale: Sept. 18) Forecast: Fraser needs no introduction to American audiences. She will come over from England for a five-city tour, and with widespreand favorable reviews, this should have no trouble making the bestseller lists. It's a BOMC, History Book Club, Literary Guild and QPB selection. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
"Fascinating . . . the court at Versailles comes alive." -The Washington Post"Colorful, fluently narrated. . . . A touching, psychologically believable portrait." -The Wall Street Journal "Absorbing as ever. Fraser's blend of insight and research persuade us that this unfortunate queen deserves neither the vilification nor the idealization she has received." -The New Yorker Fascinating . . . the court at Versailles comes alive. The Washington Post Colorful, fluently narrated. . . . A touching, psychologically believable portrait. The Wall Street Journal Absorbing as ever. Fraser s blend of insight and research persuade us that this unfortunate queen deserves neither the vilification nor the idealization she has received. The New Yorker" " Fascinating . . . the court at Versailles comes alive." - "The Washington Post"" Colorful, fluently narrated. . . . A touching, psychologically believable portrait." - "The Wall Street Journal" " Absorbing as ever. Fraser's blend of insight and research persuade us that this unfortunate queen deserves neither the vilification nor the idealization she has received." - "The New Yorker"