Thursday, April 16, 2009

Marie Antoinette: The Journey by Antonia Fraser

Marie Antoinette: The Journey

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is my kind of history. If those shows on the history channel about medieval weapons are history for boys (Yes, Freud. It always comes back to sword length), this is history for us girlies. It feels like reading an 18th century tabloid. In a really good way. I could not put it down, not even to brush my hair. (I needed one of Marie's famous horse-hair wigs. Maybe the one with the model ship propped up in it as a hair accessory). 

I loved the politics, the history, and Fraser's analysis, liberally sprinkled with details about the cut and fabric of her gowns, the food on her table, and the horribly wacky rules of life at Versailles. These items are like the chips in the Tollhouse cookie of history: not so delicious all by themselves, but in context, they make the whole a divine creation.

I saw the movie, and liked it, cause it is gorgeous and has a fab soundtrack; but it doesn't bear much resemblance to the book.

If you like this, try Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire (an across-the-pond contemporary of Marie's), and To the Scaffold: The Life of Marie Antoinette. (And then visit Versailles, the Petit Trianon, and the Conciergerie). Also, try Fraser's The Wives of Henry VIII. I'm going to read Alison Weir's book about Henry and his ladies next. Also just bought The Unruly Queen: The Life of Queen Caroline, by Flora Faser. Don't know if she is any relation to Antonia.

View all my reviews.


  1. I really want to read this. Food, France, Fashion - it has to be good.

  2. Also loved the movie. Which sent me to read a short history on her--can't remember which, jsut now. And it made consider Marie in a completely different light. Completely fascinating--must read.

  3. We got sorta bored with the movie and especially her non-english accent. But I did enjoy it from a historical standpoint. The show I loved even more that we watched a week later was Elizabeth: The Golden Age. That was NOT even remotely boring!

    BTW, I'm interested to hear your review of "Disease Proof Your Child"--it wont hurt my feelings if you hated it and disagreed with everything it says.

    Also, I still owe you an e-mail reply.

    Also, what did you really think of the ending of Life of Pi?

  4. I will review Disease Proof when I finish. I haven't been picking it up so much because I've been busy with Easter candy.

    I liked that there was a twist ending in Life of Pi. Blew my mind a bit. Which rarely happens. So it was fun.

  5. I read this book a long time ago and loved it. Antonia Fraser always does a really good job.

  6. I've read most of those and love them. Particularly Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. I am going to look up the scaffold book as I haven't read that one.

    I spent too much time on my visit to Versailles in the LONNNNNG line for the bathroom (too much orangina on the train) but it really did open my eyes as to the opulence and beauty that they lived in and took as normal and actually, as deserved.

    As a sidenote, Flora is the daughter of Antonia.

  7. Avid reader, here, so I'm thrilled to find this blog (by way of your other blog, which I found by way of MMB).

    I just watched The Duchess the other day, so I'm looking to read Georgiana as soon as I can. After reading this review, I'm also now anxious to read Marie Antoinette (AND see the movie...haven't yet).

  8. I think that Flora is Antonia's daughter. (I could have looked it up first, but I'm going with my faulty memory.)

    I enjoyed this book, too, although I think that I loved Georgiana slightly more . . . although the way that she gambled away large sums of money made me feel physically sick. The Duchess is also good -- and also bears little resemblance to the book.

    I am now going for a Young Victoria combo -- recently saw the film, and loved it, and will now read the book. (The way you write is very contagious. Am realizing that pronouns are falling by the wayside.)

  9. Fraser and Weir are my go-to gals for serious History, with an excellent side of gossip and dirt. Great books!

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