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Marie Antoinette
February 14, 2011
2:40 pm
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bethany.x
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I know she has nothing at all to do with the Tudors, but I'm just curious about your opinions of her. She's a recent obsession of mine. Personally, I must say I absolutely adore her.

I wish to confess to you and tell you my secret, which is that I am no angel. -Queen Elizabeth I

February 14, 2011
3:39 pm
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DuchessofBrittany
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I read Antonia Fraser's biography on Marie Antoinette and I got a lot of insight into her life, and I finished the book with a greater appreciation for her and the situation she found herself in. I hated the movie version of this book and could not finish it: too pop culturish for me. But, I digress.

I feel Marie Antoinette found herself in a France on the brink of social change. It must have been terribly hard to be a foreigner in the French Court, to be ignored by many courtiers, and seen as a shallow, vain girl. She lacked the education and formal training necessary to be the future Queen of France. One cannot forget that when she came to France, she was a mere 14 years old, suffering from homesickness (something I can appreciate).

While Marie Antoinette was no Katherine of Aragon or Eleanor of Aquitaine, she was not the stupid women history claims her to be. She never said “let them eat cake,” which has prolonged the negative view of her. She found herself in a court that wanted her to beget heirs with a husband unable to perform, which led her to overcompensated for her perceived failures.

Rather, she was the scapegoat for everything wrong with France. Her husband was so out of touch with French society that Marie Antoinette paid the ultimate price. Yes, she was a pretty and rich women, who was in a loveless marriage, and took lovers. Hell, the majority of women at the French court were the same. But, the Queen in the face of her people and she took the brunt of the revolution's hatred for the royal family.

Her greatest hour was on the scaffold. She died with dignity and courage. She did not break under the pressure of her long-term confinement. I pray she rests in peace and found happiness in her afterlife.

I found Marie Antoinette to be a women misunderstood in her time and through history. I hope more people can come to learn about this tragic, yet courageous woman. Frankly, I find her quite delightful.

"By daily proof you shall find me to be to you both loving and kind" Anne Boleyn

February 15, 2011
7:03 pm
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Gentillylace
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bethany.x and Duchess of Brittany: have you read Elena Maria Vidal's novel about Marie Antoinette, Trianon  I have not yet read it, but I regularly follow Ms. Vidal's blog, Tea at Trianon http://www.teaattrianon.blogspot.com and have read another novel of hers, The Night's Dark Shade, set in 13th-century southern France. Ms. Vidal writes well, and her distinctly orthodox Catholic point of view comes across in her fiction.

Yours as long as lyffe endures, Katheryn

February 15, 2011
8:06 pm
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MegC
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I find Marie Antoinette fascinating, but I haven't had the time to really do any kind of in-depth reading on her yet.  I do have a book on my Amazon wishlist called Queen of Fashion:  What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution by Caroline Weber.  I've read probably the first chapter of it and it seems very interesting.  It talks about how when she first came to France, her clothing, though in the French fashion, was from the previous fashion season and how that affected how people initially perceived her as something of a country bumpkin.

I find it sad that so little of history was recorded by women.  Can you imagine the things we would know if more of history had been written down by women?

"We mustn't let our passions destroy our dreams…"

February 16, 2011
12:03 pm
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bethany.x
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DuchessofBrittany, that film was dreadful! Our history teacher got bored toward the end of term so just made us watch that for a few lessons (she has the teaching capabilities equal to that of a cabbage…) so now everyone in the form sees her purely as she was portrayed in the film and I hate to think of how many other people have made the same mistake…

I agree that her fall was the time that I admire her for. She shoed more courage and dignity than I could ever dream of. It was a truly cruel transistion that the revolution made her go through and that's the Marie Antoinette I'm always going to see. I just wish that people would be less ignorant in being quick to judge her on the rumours and the faults (most of which I don't agree were her fault) and ignoring what she went though and how she coped so well with it.

Gentillylace and MegC, I haven't read those books but will have a look thanks. I follow the Trianon blog quite a lot though. Just bought Lady Antonia Fraser's biography and also a book about Marie-Therese, so should have a good read!

I wish to confess to you and tell you my secret, which is that I am no angel. -Queen Elizabeth I

February 16, 2011
2:33 pm
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DuchessofBrittany
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bethany.x,

 Like Anne Boleyn, Marie Antoinette has been maligned by history. I wish there would be a film made about Marie Antoinette that portrayed her iin a more balanced perspective, as a human being, out of her element, and reacting to circumstances. Sophia Coppalla's film did nothing to make Marie Antoinette enduring. I get the point of the film, but the script destroyed any hope to seeing her as a misunderstood women, and reinforced the mythology about her life and death. Such a shame since they filmed at Versailles (shortly before I visited), and there was such potential to use the background to reflect the extremes of extravagence of the rich and the austerity of the poor in France.

I am interested in learning more, do you recommend any other books to read about Marie Anotinette, etc.

I know the public libray system here ordered Susan Nagel's Marie-Theresa: the fate of Marie Antoinette's daughter. Have you read this? I must request the book when I finish this post.

"By daily proof you shall find me to be to you both loving and kind" Anne Boleyn

February 16, 2011
8:01 pm
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Bella44
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Try Antonia Frasers' biography on Marie Antoinette.  That was the book that Sofia Coppola based her movie on and Antonia Fraser is an excellent author for an introduction to an historical figure.  Just a shame the movie was nothing like the book, even though I thought the movie did have its good points it was ultimately pointless as they barely touched on the Revolution.

February 16, 2011
8:17 pm
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Impish_Impulse
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I agree, Bella. I liked Antonia Fraser's book. It doesn't make her out to be a saint, but neither is she a monster. She's just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Her suffering the last few years of her life really define her for me; she rises above the circumstances. Have you read her last letter? Ironically, it was saved for history because it wasn't delivered. I also recommend Elena Maria Vidal's blog, http://www.teaattrianon.blogspot.com/. You can find Marie and Louis' last letters there.

                        survivor ribbon                             

               "Don't knock at death's door. 

          Ring the bell and run. He hates that."    

February 17, 2011
12:37 pm
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bethany.x
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DuchessofBrittany, I ordered Marie-Therese: The fate of Marie Antoinette's Daughter and it came today! I'll let you know how it is. I ordered the Antonia Fraser biography on the same day too. Not too sure about other books, I mainly read the blogs about her. I think it is an awful shame that they didn't do a better job of the film. You've been to Versailles? How was it? It's on my list of places I need to visit! I think the purpose of the film could have been improved if they took her story to the end.

Impish_Impulse, I agree. She certainly did rise above the circumstances in her final years. I was in tears reading her last letter; she was a truly remarkable woman.

I wish to confess to you and tell you my secret, which is that I am no angel. -Queen Elizabeth I

March 4, 2011
3:22 pm
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DuchessofBrittany
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I just finished reading Versailles by Kathryn Davis. It is an interesting take on Marie Antoinette's life. I am of two minds about the book. I did not like the characterization of Marie Antoinette, too much of a diservice to her memory. Marie Antoinette in the book is more interested in her own vaity than political issues of the day. However, the book does bring to life the mindset of people in the years leading up to the revolution. I found the time come alive, even if I did not agree with some characterizations.

I would love to know what others think if they have read this book, or if they read it in the future. I just wanted to put this book out there for Marie Antoinette fans, since I find myself becoming one. She is quite a beguiling figure!

"By daily proof you shall find me to be to you both loving and kind" Anne Boleyn

March 14, 2011
1:32 pm
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bethany.x
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I can't stand some of the characterisations of Marie Antoinette. She deserves better than where the modern-world put her.

Have you seen L'Autrichienne? It's about Marie Antoinette's final few days. It's all in French so I couldn't work out what anyone was saying but I enjoyed it all the same! I think it got her almost perfect and certainly offered a more sympathetic portrayal.

I'll have a look at that book, thanks. I've decided no more buying untill I've read some more of the ones I've been collecting… Smile

I wish to confess to you and tell you my secret, which is that I am no angel. -Queen Elizabeth I

March 14, 2011
9:10 pm
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La Belle Creole
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DuchessofBrittany said:

I just finished reading Versailles by Kathryn Davis. It is an interesting take on Marie Antoinette's life. I am of two minds about the book. I did not like the characterization of Marie Antoinette, too much of a diservice to her memory. Marie Antoinette in the book is more interested in her own vaity than political issues of the day. However, the book does bring to life the mindset of people in the years leading up to the revolution. I found the time come alive, even if I did not agree with some characterizations.

I would love to know what others think if they have read this book, or if they read it in the future. I just wanted to put this book out there for Marie Antoinette fans, since I find myself becoming one. She is quite a beguiling figure!


I read “Versailles” a few years ago, and I found it very enjoyable.  I considered Marie Antoinette's “voice” and personality in the novel pretty credible with what's known about her.  Marie Antoinetter was a political wife, not a politician, and she was known for her love of luxury.  Compared with other rulers, she wasn't well educated and she had few intellectual interests. 

A lot of authors have tackled Marie Antoinette as a fictional character, and I think she's always something of a challenge, because authors would like to portray her and readers would like to read her as a “deeper” kind of person.  There's only so much one can read about lavish parties, big spending, hairstyles and fashions and might-have-been-love-affairs. But if the stories get too intellectually deep, it sounds less authentic.  I felt Davis did a better job than most.

  I've been trying to read “Abundance” by Sena Jeter Naslund, and I find it terribly overwritten and I don't think it sounds like how Marie Antoinette thought and reasoned at all. 

March 15, 2011
6:47 am
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DuchessofBrittany
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I came upon a book about Marie Antoinette on my own book shelves that I forgot I had bought. I was looking for another book entirely. Anyway, its titled Queen of France: A Biography of Marie Antoinette by Andre Castelot (trans. by Denise Folliot). 

"By daily proof you shall find me to be to you both loving and kind" Anne Boleyn

March 23, 2011
4:10 pm
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DuchessofBrittany
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I just finished Marie-Therese: the fate of Marie Antoinette's daughter by Susan Nagel. I loved it! What a great biography. There are many writers out there who could learn from Ms. Nagel's writing. She lays out her work, theories about Marie-Therese's fate, and does a wonderful job of exploring this amazing woman's life. I highly recommened it to anyone who loves biographies. I do not know much about French history, especially the Revolution, but Nagel takes the reader through the trials and tribulations of Marie-Therese's life.

"By daily proof you shall find me to be to you both loving and kind" Anne Boleyn

May 2, 2011
1:36 am
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Neil Kemp
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Just as a late add on to this subject, a new film is due for release later this year in France, it will be in French (as you would expect) and is called “Farewell my Queen”, based on the book of the same name by Chantel Thomas. Diane Kruger is playing Marie and it will be interesting to see if this film offers any greater depth to the character than “Marie Antoinette”, which I found very unsatisfactory doing the historical character of Marie little justice.

May 6, 2011
10:44 am
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bethany.x
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Thanks for that! It's when I wish I could speak French… If it helps a thing, I've been studying Russian, German and Latin for the past two years Wink

I wish to confess to you and tell you my secret, which is that I am no angel. -Queen Elizabeth I

May 6, 2011
1:30 pm
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DuchessofBrittany
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Neil Kemp said:

Just as a late add on to this subject, a new film is due for release later this year in France, it will be in French (as you would expect) and is called “Farewell my Queen”, based on the book of the same name by Chantel Thomas. Diane Kruger is playing Marie and it will be interesting to see if this film offers any greater depth to the character than “Marie Antoinette”, which I found very unsatisfactory doing the historical character of Marie little justice.


This sounds interesting. I am not sure if my limited French would keep up with the dialogue. But, it would be good practice! I'll have to check it out one day. I can only hope it is a better film that “Marie Antoinette.” I am still not sure what to make of that film. High on pop culture, low on real history.

"By daily proof you shall find me to be to you both loving and kind" Anne Boleyn

May 8, 2011
11:50 am
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Neil Kemp
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DuchessofBrittany said:

 


I can only hope it is a better film that “Marie Antoinette.” I am still not sure what to make of that film. High on pop culture, low on real history.


Yes Duchess, you are right about that film, based very loosely on Marie Antoinette, more a case of let them eat cheesecake perhaps?  We must trust that this version is better (reports are promisingly good), J'espere que oui.

May 8, 2011
10:45 pm
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Bella44
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^ Cheesecake – LOL!!!!!

That kind of sums that movie up, though I still kind of like it.  It's so pretty and the soundtrack is brilliant, even if nothing really happens….!

May 9, 2011
1:12 am
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Neil Kemp
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Bella44 said:

^ Cheesecake – LOL!!!!!

That kind of sums that movie up, though I still kind of like it.  It's so pretty and the soundtrack is brilliant, even if nothing really happens….!


Bella, you are also right in what you say, you liked this film and that's fine, we shouldn't allow ourselves to be influenced by mass popular opinion and bravo for expressing your positives for the film, after all we shouldn't judge other peoples preferences (some things I like get funny looks – take ABBA for example!). Historically suspect regarding Marie but, as you pointed out, there is perhaps more than that to take out of an AV experience (I do tend to override this thought process regarding anything to do with PG however!Wink).

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