Skip to main content

Marie Antoinette: The Last Queen of France by Evelyne Lever: A Book Review

Marie Antoinette: The Last Queen of France
Author: Evelyne Lever
Genre: Nonfiction, History, Biography
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: 2000
Pages: 374
Source: Personal Collection
Synopsis: Married for political reasons at the age of fourteen, Marie Antoinette was naive, impetuous, and ill equipped for the role in which history cast her. From her birth in Vienna in 1755 through her turbulent, unhappy marriage, the bloody turmoil of the French Revolution, her trial of high treason (during which she was accused of incest), and her final beheading, Marie Antoinette’s life was the tragic tale of disastrous circumstances colliding.

     Drawing upon diaries, letters, court records, and memoirs, Evelyn Lever paints vivid portraits of Marie Antoinette, her inner circle, and the lavish court life at Versailles. Marie Antoinette dispels the myth of the callous queen whose supposed response to her starving subjects was the comment, “Let them eat cake.” What emerges instead is a surprisingly average woman thrust into a position for which she was wholly unprepared, a combination that proved disastrous both for her and for France. this revealing story of how Marie Antoinette kept her dignity and courage when Fate turned its back and she lost everything: throne, children, husband, and-- in a very public and cruel execution--her life.


     My Review: Marie Antoinette has always been one of history’s most hated figures. She is known to be the evil queen of France, whose response while watching her subjects starve was, “Let them eat cake!” Indeed, my French grandmother told me stories of Marie Antoinette’s horrible evil deeds that would scare as a child. My grandmothers first words of the story was, “Marie Antoinette was evil, Lauralee, so very evil.” Indeed, at the end of her tale, my grandmother would say, “It was a good thing for Marie Antoinette to be beheaded. She deserved it because she did not care about her people.” However, in Evelyn Lever’s biography of Marie Antoinette, I got the opportunity to separate fact from fiction. It turns out that Marie Antoinette did not say, “Let them eat cake.” Instead, this book tells the tragic tale of Marie Antoinette’s life starting from her idyllic life in the court of Austria to the end of her life at the French guillotine.


     Marie Antoinette, in the beginning of the biography, is described as lazy. She did not like to study and would like to play with her siblings and put on plays. At 14, her mother used her as a pawn to strengthen Austria’s alliances with the most powerful country at that time, France. When she married the Crown Prince of France, Marie Antoinette is stubborn, judgemental, easily gullible, and naive. She makes the wrong decisions that will eventually lead to the French Revolution. During the French Revolution, we readers do admire her courage, and we feel sorry for her losing both her husband and her children.


     Overall, this is a balanced biography of Marie Antoinette. Marie Antoinette lived a sad life, for even at the court, there were pressures that were demanded of her, and when she did not fulfill those pressures, she was mocked, slandered, and criticized. Her life is both a horror story and a morality tale. Indeed unlike the fiction in my grandmother’s tales, I found Marie Antoinette to be a victim rather than a villain. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in history, and who is interested in learning about the true story of Marie Antoinette.


Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post by Allison Pataki: A Book Review

The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post Author: Allison Pataki Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Ballantine Release Date: February 15, 2022 Pages: 381 Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis: Mrs. Post, the President and First Lady are here to see you. . . . So begins another average evening for Marjorie Merriweather Post. Presidents have come and gone, but she has hosted them all. Growing up in the modest farmlands of Battle Creek, Michigan, Marjorie was inspired by a few simple rules: always think for yourself, never take success for granted, and work hard—even when deemed American royalty, even while covered in imperial diamonds. Marjorie had an insatiable drive to live and love and to give more than she got. From crawling through Moscow warehouses to rescue the Tsar’s treasures to outrunning the Nazis in London, from serving the homeless of the Great Depression to entertaining Roosevelts, Kennedys, and Hollywood’s biggest stars, Marjorie Merriweath

The Seven Sisters (The Seven Sisters #1) by Lucinda Riley: A Book Review

The Seven Sisters (The Seven Sisters #1) Author: Lucinda Riley Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance Publisher: Atria Release Date: 2015 Pages: 463 Source: My State Public Library Synopsis: Maia D’Apliese and her five sisters gather together at their childhood home, “Atlantis”—a fabulous, secluded castle situated on the shores of Lake Geneva—having been told that their beloved father, who adopted them all as babies, has died. Each of them is handed a tantalizing clue to her true heritage—a clue which takes Maia across the world to a crumbling mansion in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Once there, she begins to put together the pieces of her story and its beginnings. Eighty years earlier in Rio’s Belle Epoque of the 1920s, Izabela Bonifacio’s father has aspirations for his daughter to marry into the aristocracy. Meanwhile, architect Heitor da Silva Costa is devising plans for an enormous statue, to be called Christ the Redeemer, and will soon travel to Paris to find the right sculptor to

Blog Tour: Marie Antoinette’s World: Intrigue, Infidelity, And Adultery In Versailles by Will Bashor

Marie Antoinette’s World: Intrigue, Infidelity, And Adultery In Versailles [history/biographical nonfiction] Release date: June 15, 2020 Postponed due to Covid-19: July 30, 2020 at Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Hardcover and ebook, 320 pages Author’s page | Goodreads SYNOPSIS Synopsis: This riveting book explores the little-known intimate life of Marie Antoinette and her milieu in a world filled with intrigue, infidelity, adultery, and sexually transmitted diseases. Will Bashor reveals the intrigue and debauchery of the Bourbon kings from Louis XIII to Louis XV, which were closely intertwined with the expansion of Versailles from a simple hunting lodge to a luxurious and intricately ordered palace. It soon became a retreat for scandalous conspiracies and rendezvous—all hidden from the public eye.       When Marie Antoinette arrived, she was quickly drawn into a true viper’s nest, encouraged by her imprudent entourage. Bashor shows that her often thoughtless, fantas