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Publisher's Summary

France's iconic queen, Marie Antoinette, wrongly accused of uttering the infamous "Let them eat cake", was alternately revered and reviled during her lifetime. For centuries since, she has been the object of debate, speculation, and the fascination so often accorded illustrious figures in history. Married in mere girlhood, this essentially lighthearted child was thrust onto the royal stage and commanded by circumstance to play a significant role in European history. Antonia Fraser's lavish and engaging portrait excites compassion and regard for all aspects of the queen, immersing the listener not only in the coming-of-age of a graceful woman, but in the culture of an unparalleled time and place.
©2001 Antonia Fraser (P)2001 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
  • Karen
  • San Diego, CA, USA
  • 07-19-07

Very Detailed

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.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story


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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A touching tale

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".

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Alexandra
  • Ardmore, PA, United States
  • 11-08-06

Excellent, sympathetic biography

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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Barbara
  • Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  • 10-31-06

Great if you can survive the narrator

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.

12 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Richard
  • Glendale, NY, USA
  • 06-19-09

Great book Rough Listen

Once again Antonia Fraser does a magnificent job bringing what could be bland historical research, to life. The problem with this audiobook is the reader. Her voice, once you get used to it is fine. It is her choice of doing foreign accents, male/female voice characters and even children's voices that is .... freaky. I wanted to pull off my headset more than once. Please, next time, just a good solid read would suffice.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Annoying Narration

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.

17 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Very detailed and informative

I, like a few other listeners, have found the narrator of this story so annoying that it has been hard to get through this otherwise good book. The details and historical accounts about Marie Antoinette are very interesting, and of course, cleared up a lot of confusion that I had when watching the historically inaccurate movie.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Detailed and thought provoking

Any additional comments?

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Barry
  • Petaluma, CA, United States
  • 08-02-12

Antonia Fraser is a great biographer!

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful