Marie Antoinette's dramatic life-story continues to arouse mixed emotions. To many people, she is still 'la reine mechante', whose extravagance and frivolity helped to bring down the French monarchy; her indifference to popular suffering epitomised by the (apocryphal) words: 'let them eat cake'. Others are equally passionate in her defence: to them, she is a victim of misogyny.
In this biography Antonia Fraser examines her influence over the king, Louis XVI; the accusations and sexual slurs made against her; her patronage of the arts, which enhanced French cultural life; her imprisonment; the death threats made against her; rumours of lesbian affairs; her trial (during which her young son was forced to testify to sexual abuse by his mother); and her eventual execution by guillotine in 1793.
©2009 Antonia Fraser; (P)2009 Orion Publishing Group