In the Shadow of the Empress: The Defiant Lives of Maria Theresa, Mother of Marie Antoinette, and Her Daughters

Nancy Goldstone. Little, Brown, $32 (624p) ISBN 978-0-316-44933-5
Historian Goldstone (Daughters of the Winter Queen) recounts in this fascinating saga the personalities and power struggles of Maria Theresa, ruler of the Habsburg Empire, and three of her daughters, each of whom served as official or de facto rulers of their own realms during periods of upheaval. Maria Theresa (1717–1780) learned boldness from countering Prussian king Frederick the Great’s incessant attacks, and honed her diplomatic skills as she sought to retain the loyalty of her sprawling empire’s subjects. Stalwart Maria Christina (1742–1798) ensured a strong alliance between the Austrian Netherlands and her family’s other territories, while energetic Maria Carolina (1752–1814) ushered in the “Golden Age of Naples” before the kingdom was conquered by Napoleon—who married into the family he overthrew. In Goldstone’s compassionate retelling, French queen Marie Antoinette (1755–1793) transitioned from a frivolous high-spender into a more serious sovereign, but was doomed to the guillotine by her early reputation. Adding wry humor to her lucid narrative, Goldstone clarifies the era’s complex politics and pinpoints how these commanding women helped give shape to modern Europe. This mesmerizing history isn’t to be missed. Agent: Michael Carlisle, InkWell Management. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 05/13/2021
Release date: 09/21/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-5491-9405-4
Paperback - 624 pages - 978-0-316-44930-4
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