There are, perhaps, only a dozen or so persons whose mark on history is so definitive and broad that their lives continue to touch the living hundreds of years after they are gone. The French have contributed several august and even notorious characters to this group – Louis XIV, the builder of Versailles; Napoleon, whose initials still mark the bridges in Paris; and without a doubt, Marie-Antoinette, the last queen of the Bourbon dynasty, beheaded during the French Revolution while bearing on her own shoulders the faults and sins of generations of French royalty.
John Hardman’s new biography crowns the existing panoply of biographies detailing the life of this tragic princess, brought to the French court as a young girl to cement a political alliance that only brought her the opprobrium of the French people. This book, based on the scholarship of 230 years and numerous memoirs of people who lived through the Revolution, is an exciting and rewarding volume that will blow open quite a few windows where before we had only “peeps through a keyhole” or the surmises and conjectures of hearsay evidence.
John Hardman is hailed as one of the world’s leading authorities on the French Revolution. Marie-Antoinette’s story from Hardman’s point of view is a captivating and intense reading experience.