Marie Antoinette: The Journey by Antonia Fraser - review by John Adamson

John Adamson

Ahead of Her Time

Marie Antoinette: The Journey

By

Weidenfeld & Nicolson 488pp £25 order from our bookshop
 

In the extensive catalogue of royal foolishness, the entry for Marie Antoinette has always bulged disproportionately large. Consort of the portly and ill-fated Louis XVI, she has been portrayed as the personification of the ancien régime’s self-destructive indulgence and triviality, the pampered fantasist who played at being a ‘shepherdess’ in her Versailles mock village as real rustics starved. In this version, her death on the guillotine in 1793 at the hands of France’s Revolutionary regime was a just comeuppance. Nemesis followed hubris in a life so frivolous as to preclude any proper sense of the tragic._
That guillotine has cast a lengthy shadow over Marie Antoinette’s biographers. Whether they have regarded her as public enemy or royal martyr, they have hared a tendency to be far more interested in the high drama of her life’s denouement – its four years of Revolutionary Sturm und Drang

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