Even though it took me forever to finish, Antonia Fraser's Marie Antoinette: The Journey was fantastic and riveting. I have to say that I knew absolutely nothing about her before reading this book, and I'm so glad that I decided to pick it up. The two things I knew about her were that she said, "Let them eat cake" (she never actually said this) and was beheaded during the French Revolution.
I found myself very saddened when I read the paragraph of the book in which she is executed. She was not an effective queen, but she certainly did not deserve the execution or the reputation she has been given over time. Certainly her greatest fault was being extravagant at a time when France's economy was in trouble. She seemed to be a product of her time without the means or power to change the course of her life. Her family was more concerned with the fact that she was not able to further the interests of Austria than with her welfare. Louis XVI sounds like one of the least effective monarchs in history. Neither he nor Antoinette were cut out to run a country, but that's what you get when people are born to the throne. The French were never able to forget that she was Austrian and never trusted her. They demonized her to the point where she became the scapegoat for the ills of the country. Of course she bears some of the responsibility for her downfall, but she wasn't the monster that history has made her out to be.
I highly recommend this biography if you are interested in the life of Marie Antoinette.
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