Marie Antoinette

Joan Haslip, Author Grove/Atlantic $0 (306p) ISBN 978-1-55584-183-6
In a sympathetic reassessment of France's ill-fated Hapsburg queen, Haslip (The Lonely Empress, etc.) focuses on her subject's early years. The author attributes Marie Antoinette's failures to inexperience, the ineptitude of her husbandboth of them pawns in the Franco-Austrian allianceand a flighty, naive though generous nature, ill-suited to cope with the intrigues of a corrupt court under the sway of Louis XV's mistress DuBarry. The Dauphine's voluminous letters included here to her mother, the Empress of Austria, and to her mentor, Count Mercy, the Empress's ambassador and spy, are vivid records of Marie's daily life and Versailles gossip. But Marie's concerns are frivolous in the stern light of her mother's politically savvy replies. With a king too weak to defend her, the young queen's imprudence and Austrian blood eventually turned the nobility and an impoverished, resentful people against her, despite the birth of an heir. Haslip provides a moving account of the last tragic period of Marie's life and the courage and dignity with which she faced humiliation and death. Illustrations. (March)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
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