Official Review: Marie Antoinette's Darkest Days

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melissy370
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Official Review: Marie Antoinette's Darkest Days

Post by melissy370 » 17 Jul 2018, 17:22

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Marie Antoinette's Darkest Days" by Will Bashor.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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Being from America, my history teachers never lectured about the French Revolution much. If you asked me who were the participants in it, I would answer Marie Antoinette and quote "let them eat cake." In my limited knowledge of Antoinette, I pegged her as a narcissistic airhead, oblivious to her people's plight. While her subjects were starving, she was having parties and wearing stylish dresses. My understanding of the French ruler has changed, however, from a narrow viewpoint to a realization that her story is more complicated. Antoinette became not merely a hapless royal but also a woman who loved her husband, cared deeply for her children, and was a devout Christian.

I owe this mental shift to Will Bashor's book titled Marie Antoinette's Darkest Days. Bashor brings to life the queen's last months in prison and outlines the many failed plots to save her. When Marie Antoinette became a detainee, she was no longer called a queen but referred to as widow Capet or Prisoner No. 280. She languished in her damp, mice-ridden cell for two-and-a-half months before being convicted. The author shows transcripts from her trial detailing what the allegations were against her; ranging from treason to the more shocking and absurd, intending to get her to the guillotine. Tragically the royal children suffered in the wake of the Revolution as well. Eight-year-old Louis Charles was put into solitary confinement for fifteen months without the means of taking a bath or his bedding changed. Reading like a novel at some points with dialogue, this book is an eye-opening and absorbing read.

As clueless as I was about the Revolution, I appreciated Bashor summarizing it and providing a family tree of Louis XVI. There are many theories on what brought about the revolt, but most agree it was due to the high cost of bread. France's involvement in the American Revolution could have also led some to consider freedom from a ruling class. The Reign of Terror is the two-year period of intense persecution, and during this time the jailors meted out the death sentence 60 to 80 times every night and day. Louis XVI himself was a feeble monarch and indecisive, causing his wife and his brothers to advise in policies for the country. Because the public perceived her as the primary person deciding, they faulted the queen for the bulk of the country's miseries. When Marie Antoinette came to Paris in 1773, the Parisians praised her for her beauty and cheered. However, by 1795 the public was roaring for her "to drink long of death" and "be chopped up like meat for pâté.”

I liked how the author used various mediums to chronicle Antoinette's death. In the book, it shows paintings someone made of the queen, documents of the trial, a diagram of the Conciergerie prison, weather reports, a poem written about the queen and a short bio of the architect of the guillotine. The author even shares multiple theories on what happened to the queen's dog. One of the most disturbing and dark tales is about a game the convicts at the Conciergerie would play to pass the time called "Guillotine." They would pretend to get sentenced and then act out themselves getting their heads lopped off.

I feel the author thoroughly researched for this book, and he notes all his sources clearly, even acknowledging when there is an inconsistency in eyewitness accounts. There were no flaws for me to pick apart. So, without further adieu, I give Marie Antoinette's Darkest Days 4 out of 4 stars. Anyone who loves history will be enamored with this work.

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Marie Antoinette's Darkest Days
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Post by Kmdehn » 22 Jul 2018, 13:59

The story of Marie Antionette is quite intriguing and I must admit I don't feel I know the details well enough. This book might be just what I need to get a better understanding of this Icon. Thank you for the attention-grabbing review!

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Post by AmySmiles » 22 Jul 2018, 14:03

I appreciate your review, but I find books like this about history boring. Just my opinion. Your review did a good job of making it sound interesting though.
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Post by Cecilia_L » 22 Jul 2018, 15:33

Also from America, I received limited teaching on the French Revolution too, so your review quite intrigued me. Thanks for the recommendation!

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Post by melissy370 » 22 Jul 2018, 16:17

Kmdehn wrote:
22 Jul 2018, 13:59
The story of Marie Antionette is quite intriguing and I must admit I don't feel I know the details well enough. This book might be just what I need to get a better understanding of this Icon. Thank you for the attention-grabbing review

I hope you do get to check it out. Thanks for commenting.

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Post by melissy370 » 22 Jul 2018, 16:23

AmySmiles wrote:
22 Jul 2018, 14:03
I appreciate your review, but I find books like this about history boring. Just my opinion. Your review did a good job of making it sound interesting though.
I did not find it boring, but I understand that some do not find history that interesting to read. :D Thanks for your comment.

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Post by kfwilson6 » 22 Jul 2018, 19:15

This book sounds so good. I love stories about the European monarchs. There is so much tragedy for them though. They were all so conniving and were either sending people to the guillotine or being sent themselves. Excellent review. I definitely want to read this one.

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Post by Sarah Tariq » 23 Jul 2018, 01:47

It's very in depth historical fiction. I have little knowledge about French revolution. But hope this book will explore new dimensions of this historical event. Thanks for this great review.
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Post by Dahmy 10 » 23 Jul 2018, 06:17

Oh my, this book seems perfect with lots of information. I hardly know anything about the French revolution. I would surely love to learn more through this book.

Thank you!!!

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Post by Rosemary Khathibe » 23 Jul 2018, 06:45

Being a degree holder in History, I find your review very interesting. I now really want to read this book, as I might find more details I want to know about french life.

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Post by KatSims92 » 23 Jul 2018, 11:48

Like you, I wasn't really educated about the French Revolution. With that said, I'd love to read this because I'm always intrigued by historical figures and this period of history. I'm glad it was engaging to read as well.

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Post by Jgideon » 24 Jul 2018, 04:06

I like books that teach me one or two things about different things in history. This one seems to have caught my attention especially aboutthe life of Marie Antoinette. Thanks for the recommendation.

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Post by joycechitwa » 27 Jul 2018, 10:03

Wow! Riveting review. Made me realize that the only thing I know about Marie Antoinette and the French Revolution is from the animation movie "Dr. Peabody" - hardly anything to stand by! Thank you for shedding light on the importance of the information contained in this book.

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