©2001 Antonia Fraser; (P)2001 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.
"The portrait is drawn delicately, with pleasant touches of humor...Fraser's approach is controlled and thoughtful." (Publishers Weekly)
"Absorbing as ever. Fraser's blend of insight and research persuade us that this unfortunate queen deserves neither the vilification nor the idealization she has received." (The New Yorker)
"Donada Peters...excels at injecting subtle irony into seemingly flat narrative. She handles the snotty comments and the lewd scandal-mongering of the court with equal aplomb. Fraser is one of the most highly respected and best-selling biographers of our time, and it's easy to see why in this enlightening glimpse into the turbulent France of the 1770s." (AudioFile)
I think this book is probably the best biography around for those interested in Marie Antoinette's life and place in history. I have thoroughly enjoyed it and feel as though I am an expert now on the subject! It is very well written and detailed which really paints a lively and in-depth picture of the late queen of France.
As to Donalda Peters narration- I had no problem listening to her and do not think her voice detracts from the story at all.
Antonia Fraser has an amazing knack for writing biographies that are both impeccably researched and absolutely entertaining to read, and Marie Antoinette is no exception. Fraser takes us into the life of the young "Antoine," the daughter of the strong, hands-on empress of Austria, Maria-Teresa, who has raised all her children to be rulers and consorts. We then follow Marie Antoinette from her arrival at the French court, where courtiers compete for the right to help her dress and privacy becomes a distant memory, to her affectionate but passionless marriage to the Dauphin (unconsummated for seven years) to her frivolous years as a fashion goddess, gambler and party animal and her final years as a woman who faced slander, intrigue, defamation and treason charges with dignity and grace. Whatever her shallow moments, Fraser's Marie Antoinette has wisdom, steel and immense loyalty. Alas, the narrator is so unpleasant that I abandoned this book several times in frustration. Donalda Peters has one of those annoying, tight, dry, upper-crust British voices that make the listener feel like a disobedient child being lectured by a menacing nanny. Although her French pronunciation is mostly adequate, Peters seems unable or unwilling to pronounce the French name "Marie," and refers to the heroine as "Marry Antoinette" and sometimes even sounds as if she is saying "Murray Antoinette." What an annoying disservice to a strong book.
Fraser's elegant telling and touching tale of the maligned and exploited queen contains perfect proportions of intimate domestic detail, analysis and historic background. I was carried along by it's compelling momentum and even-handed description of the personal and social tragedies of the French Revolution.
Yes, the reader Donada Peters takes a little getting used to. But those completely intolerant of her British accent deprive themselves of an excellent "read".
This is a well-written, superbly detailed and very engaging biography of Marie Antoinette. Unlike other reviewers, I thought the narrator did an excellent job, underscoring the drama adequately, provided nice characterizations of the historical figures, and pronounced the French and other foreign names on the whole rather well. It is true that her voice can be a bit harsh at times, but I didn't find it got in the way of enjoying the book.
I love the biography - it is well written and engaging (as are most of her books) but the narration really destroyed it for me. I quit listening 1/2 way through and went for the print edition. A thoroughly annoying English granny accent with atrocious English-public-school French pronounciations set my teeth on edge.
I advise people to listen to the sample first to see if they can stand the narration before they decide to download this audio version of this great book.
Yes, this is a long book. I purchased it because I was interested in getting allot more details of daily life and a story that was not rushed. I was not disappointed. This book offered detailed information about the complex relationships and hierarchy of French Court. It did an excellent job of pointing out the precise change in the public's view of Marie Antoinette and the probable causes. I found myself increasingly empathetic toward her. She did her very best to live up to all of the requirements of her role, but was sadly ill-prepared for some aspects of married life and politics. This book is for the person who wants a deeper look into the everyday life, relationships, politics, and obstacles of the premier queen of France.
professor. like great and VERY good books, fiction and history, mainly
I HAE LISTENED TO SO MANY... BUT THIS IS AMONG THE TOP.
SHE IS CURRENTLY MY FAVORITE READER -- SUCH INTELLIGENCE AND SENSITIVITY IN HER VOICE -- AND SHE CAPTURES THE IRONY AND HUMOR, AS WELL.
NO, I'D RATHER SAVOR IT.
LISTEN TO IT!
My interests run to psychology, popular science, history, world literature, and occasionally something fun like Jasper Fforde. It seems like the only free time I have for reading these days is when I'm in the car so I am extremely grateful for audio books. I started off reading just the contemporary stuff that I was determined not to clutter up my already stuffed bookcases with. And now audio is probably 90% of my "reading" matter.
I was largely ignorant of the details of Marie Antoinette's life. This book was a revelation not only about Marie but about the times in which she lived. Fraser does not idolize her subject, but she makes a superb case that Marie deserves better than the conventional image of the woman who said let them eat cake. As for the atrocities committed by the revolutionaries, no one should ever have had to endure those.
Antonia Fraser writes a detailed account of Marie Antoinette's life supported by primary sources of differing perspectives. As a history teacher, I was delightfully surprised to learn so much more about circumstances surrounding the Queen's life and Europe as a whole during this time period. At times, the story seemed to move a bit slowly because of the detail, but it didn't impact my overall enjoyment. Also, I appreciated the epilogue, which resolved many unanswered questions about MA's legacy.
I was also very satisfied with Donada Peters' narration, especially after reading such critical reviews from others. I love that she used different voices and accents to personalize the LARGE number of people cited in this story, which made it much easier to put everything in context while listening.
I purchased this book for a trip to France with my family. I wanted to immerse myself in French history. It was so interesting listening to this then seeing Versailles with my own eyes, visiting the Petite Trianon, and Marie Antoinette's little play farm.
This book humanized her. This book helped me to understand her at a different level, away from the layers of historic baggage. In many ways she lived a life of luxury, rich beyond my imagination. In many others, she was terribly neglected by the people in her life. The end, as we know, is tragic for her. I found myself weeping for a woman who essentially failed at everything in life, largely through the whims of fate, and her own lack of skills. A woman whose husband was killed, and who had two children die, and then was killed knowing that her two remaining children were left to a terrible fate.
I loved how the author used so many first person quotes, this history is so well documented, it is fascinating to hear what the players thought at the time.
The last chapter was especially well done, when the author examines how Marie Antoinette was treated differently than her husband, and how that was due mostly to sexism. I wish she would have gone a little further to explore how Marie Antoinette has been portrayed in history, because I think there is significant misogyny in the way she is portrayed even today. Still, when visiting the excesses of Versailles, and the very odd farm that emphasized how utterly clueless she was as to how most people lived, I had sympathy for those who executed her. Even though she was a scapegoat, a symbol of many years of history.
Many people have criticized the reader. I wasn't bothered. I liked how she changed her voice for different people in the book, and although she often pronounced "Marie Antoinette" "Mary Antoinette". Definitely listen to the sample before purchasing.
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