MARIE ANTOINETTE: The Tragic Queen by Dorothy Moulton Mayer


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Long before Marie Antoinette makes her grande entree here, the title will have indicated the position taken in Lady Mayer's biography of gay, gracious, impulsive, foolish but courageous Marie Antoinette, the first since Andre Castelot's of 1957. With the exception of Victoria Holt's novel The Queen's Confession last year to which the general reader will turn more readily. And perhaps with equal justification since there is so much (im)putative speculation here along with obviously earnest homework (none of it revealed however in footnotes and much of it violated in conversations which may or may not have taken place). The point of view is quite explicit: ""Her tragedy was--and we cannot insist on it too often--that she was placed in a position which she was too young to handle, in a sick society which she had no means of evaluating, a world already shaken by revolutionary ideas."" Perhaps, but from here on Lady Mayer makes ridiculous assertions (""She lives in history because of those few hours [of courage] on this one night"") and fearless speculations. Having established for the purposes of this book that ""there is no other record"" save one statement of the ""impossible love"" with Axel Fersen, she is not one to forego surmise about not only their love, but their love at first sight, and the reasonable expectation of its physical fulfillment. None of it, however specious, renews the familiarity of her story.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1969
Publisher: Coward-McCann