In the autumn of the year that the French Revolution broke out, Benjamin Franklin wrote that 'nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.' With forethought, he might have added 'and books about Marie Antoinette'. The French queen's place in history was already assured. ' Voila la victime', as Mirabeau said.
In her acknowledgements, Joan Haslip states that she hesitated when her publishers asked her to add another volume to the list. But biographers arc seldom bashful for long, and she was soon persuaded that 'in every generation there are certain characters which require a reassessment'. It is an extraordinary idea,