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Marie Antoinette

Book cover photo provided by FSB Associates. Click to buy the book.Marie Antoinette: The Last Queen of France by Evelyne Lever.

Publisher's Summary

Family life in Vienna, the wedding at Versailles, the French court, boredom, hypocrisy, loneliness, allies, enemies, extravagant entertainment, scandal, intrigue, sex, birth and bereavement, lovers, peasant riots, the fall of the Bastille, the attack on Versailles, confinement in the Tuileries, escape and capture, mob rule in Paris, imprisonment, the guillotine...

In "Marie Antoinette" Evelyne Lever tells the sumptuous story of the last -- and the most infamous -- queen of France. Married off at fourteen by her ruthless mother for political purposes to the unprepossessing Dauphin, the future Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette was immature, brazenly self-indulgent, impetuous and wholly unprepared for the role history cast for her. Her sad attempts to consummate her marriage read like bedroom farce, and she did little to quell the rumors of her increasingly dangerous liaisons. Bolstered by the staged receptions that she mistook for popular approval, she was willfully out of touch with the nation's dire economic troubles, the seething social and political climate of prerevolutionary France, and eventually retreated--from both her husband and the public--behind a wall of courtiers and into a world of opulent fantasy -- until it was too late.

About the Author

Evelyne Lever is a leading French historian and the author of seven books, including, most recently, "Madam de Pompadour." "Marie Antoinette" is her first book to be published in the United States. She lives in Paris with her husband, Maurice Lever, the author of "Sade."


"Evocative...The most important contribution to the subject since the studies of Pierre de Nolhac in the early part of this century... Lever's qualities as a biographer, already shown in her Lives of Louis XVI and XVIII, are again evident here in her deft treatment of narrative, and her gift for the apt quotation." --John Rogister, The Times Literary Supplement

"Lively and fully informed... No Queen of France has been more written about than Marie Antoinette and... Evelyne Lever's book is a valuable addition." --Joan Riviere, The Eighteenth Century

"This biography, not at all romanticized, is very well written and provides a good description of the characters and setting of a tragedy that has remained engraved in the memory of history. With this portrait, Evelyne Lever proposes a true 'de-caricature' of Marie Antoinette to her readers. It was long due." --Francis Matthys, La Libre Belgique

"Drawn from little-explored sources -- such as the Austrian and Swedish archives and the correspondence of foreign ambassadors to Paris -- the work of Ms. Lever restores the political dimension that has often been lacking in the biographies of the last queen of France." --Bruno de Cessole, Figaro Madame

"This political Marie Antoinette completes the body of impressive work that has earned Evelyne Lever a reputation for talent and erudition... The author paints a psychological portrait that leaves no room for ambiguity." --Paul Moriceau, Ouest France

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Marie Antoinette: The Last Queen of France by Evelyne Lever, translated by Catherine Temerson. Lever portrays the young queen as a charming featherbrain who was callously manipulated by her mother for political reasons. Naive and impulsive, Marie Antoinette made many mistakes that contributed to her own downfall. To a large extent she deserved her reputation as "Madame Deficit," squandering money while the people starved. But Lever succeeds in humanizing her, and this entertaining biography is the perfect introduction to the life of Marie Antoinette. (Disclosure: I received a copy of this book to review.)

More Books About Marie Antoinette


These DVDs are formatted for North American audiences and may not work in other regions.

Marie Antoinette: The Tragic Queen. A documentary from A&E's "Biography" series. Journey back to the explosive era of the French Revolution for a revealing portrait of the young queen. See the incredible opulence in which she lived, and hear from famed historians about her upbringing and heritage, and why she was a victim of her time more than anything else.

Marie Antoinette. Her name is synonymous with the French monarchy's excesses, but there is more to the story of Marie Antoinette. This two-hour PBS documentary paints a portrait of a courageous figure, tracing her journey from splendor to her final hours in prison.

The French Revolution. A feature-length look at the Revolution that transformed Europe.

Marie Antoinette. This 2006 movie, directed by Sofia Coppola, stars Kirsten Dunst at the young Marie Antoinette. It is also available from Amazon to U.S. customers as a digital download.

Marie Antoinette. Lavish 1938 MGM movie starring Norma Shearer as the tragic queen and Robert Morley as Louis XVI. The cast also includes Tyrone Power and John Barrymore. This well-acted and entertaining drama received four Oscar nominations.

The Affair of the Necklace. 2001 movie starring Hillary Swank as Jeanne de La Motte, the con artist who impersonated Marie Antoinette. The queen is played by Joely Richardson.

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Related Topics

The Life of Marie Antoinette
French Royalty
Louis XIV and the Man in the Iron Mask
Napoleon Bonaparte
World Royal History

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