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Marie Antoinette: The Last Queen of France

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Marie Antoinette: The Last Queen of France

Current Status:
In Season
Evelyne Lever
Farrar, Straus & Giroux
History, Nonfiction

We gave it a B+

In the zesty bio Marie Antoinette: The Last Queen of France, historian Evelyne Lever draws on journals, memoirs, and letters of the period for an insightful assessment of France’s most glamorous, frivolous, and unfortunate queen. When the teenage Austrian archduchess wed the future King Louis XVI in 1770, her dazzling new home at Versailles proved a dangerous political house of mirrors. Faced with an impotent husband and duplicitous courtiers, the spoiled young royal cultivated fashion and illicit romance (with a dashing Swedish count) at the expense of political sensitivity and savvy (while Marie Antoinette never actually said of the starving populace, ”Let them eat cake,” she may as well have). Yet she braved mob revolt, a rigged trial, and the guillotine with astonishing courage. This spicy, unsparing chronicle reads as both a brainy bodice ripper and a fascinating morality tale. B+