audrey_e (audrey_e) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Book 33

Originally posted by audrey_e at Book 33
33 MARIE ANTOINETTE: THE JOURNEY Antonia Fraser (England/Ireland, 2001)

This is a biography of the French Queen that goes from her childhood in Austria to her execution in France. The author's main thesis is that throughout history the queen has been wrongly accused of possessing a bad character as well as being partially at the root of  the terrible financial state France was in by the start of the revolution.

Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette is, for aesthetic reasons, one of my favorite movies. Years after seeing it, I finally decided to read the biography behind it. It certainly has none of the fluffiness of its Hollywood counter-part, but it is just as fascinating.
What makes Antonia Fraser's book stand out is that while it can be read with the same eagerness one reads an exciting novel, its readability is not achieved at the cost of research. It remains a book filled with details as all (good) history books should be. The pro-Marie Antoinette bias is of course something to reflect upon, but the author never conceals it, which I respect a lot. After all, it is her thesis.

While Fraser discusses the context of the French Revolution along the way (it would be impossible not to), I believe this biography could not be a satisfying read without some background knowledge regarding this major historical event and the reasons why it took place. As for me, a woman born and raised in France, I was delighted to learn more about the lifestyle at Versailles when most of my high school history classes focused much more, for obvious reasons, on the politics of the revolution.

Tags: biography, history

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