Marie Antoinette by Antonia Fraser

Antonia Fraser has been one of my favourite historians for as long as I can remember. Her distinctive narrative style draws the reader in from the outset and the focus never shifts from the main character for a moment. Marie Antoinette is one of the most famous women in history and I believe much underestimated and misunderstood. Vilified both during her life time and subsequently, she has become a byword for excess and privilege but very little is known about the woman herself.

This book introduced me to parts of Marie Antoinette’s life that I didn’t know and gave me a completely new insight into this fascinating women who deserves a lot more positive attention and praise than she has received thus far.

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The world of Versailles is a galaxy away from anything we can imagine today. Even at the time it had become a caricature of itself and was outmoded and out of touch with reality. Marie Antoinette as a foreigner was the scapegoat for everything that was wrong in the French constitution. In reality she was caught up in a world that exploited and abused her from the age of 14 before chewing her up and spitting her out aged 36. She was a victim of circumstance and this book and the truth it includes need to be more widely read so that story of the real Marie Antoinette can be appreciated and she can be accepted for who she was rather than what she is assumed to be.

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