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Old 09-01-2016, 12:16 AM
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"Marie Antionette The Journey" by Antonia Fraser.

So many details in this book, creating a rich picture of both Marie Antoinette and the French Court of her time, but also the Austrian Court and her equally interesting mother Maria Teresa.

*The young Austrian Archduchesses on sleds carved as swans and gilded with gold, dressed in fur-trimmed velvet, their diamonds sparkling, all lit by torch-light.

*Twenty thousand horses needing to be posted along the route for the two and a half week journey from Vienna to Versailles, as the entourage had so many coaches, dignitaries and attendants.

*The "Versailles Glide" which Marie Antoinette mastered to the extent of becoming the "supreme exponent". (A way for the ladies of the Court to walk without lifting their feet from the ground.)

*The use of, (almost scarlet), rouge, as a precise circle on each check - not so much for vanity, but to denote rank. (Non-nobles were forbidden to use it, though the market women copied them by staining their cheeks with red wine.)

*The pressing into service of people such as the King himself, Louis XV, and the musician Gluck, to report to Austria on Marie Antoinette's menstrual cycle.

*The presence of some people at the Court who had been there from the time of Louis XIV and were still in service there - from childhood to old age - through three reigns.

*The use of sniffer dogs to round up the vagrants who would find a nook or cranny to home themselves in, as Versailles was so open - and there was a tradition of the people being able to see their monach - and people would just take up residence there.

*The handicap of being "The Austrian Woman" was accompanied by being descended from Lorraine through her father - both a black mark against Marie Antoinette at the French Court, and people with connections to Lorraine tried to use her, harming her standing.

*"Let them eat cake" was in use a hundred years before Marie Antoinette arrived at Versailles - used to discredit other foreign born princesses.

*Marie Antoinette had some physical drawbacks such as her shoulders being of different heights, which was disguised with padding in her clothing. Her hairline was un-even but again, this was diguised by a French hair-dresser sent to Austria before her arrival in Versailles. Even her teeth were adjusted by a French dentist using wire, again before her journey to France.

A very easy to read book as Antonia Fraser is such a skilled writer. Thoroughly engrossing.
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Old 09-01-2016, 06:41 AM
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I have a copy of this, it is one of my favourite books. I'm glad you like it too. Have you seen the Sofia Coppola film based on the book? What do you think of that?
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Old 09-01-2016, 10:45 AM
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I have owned "The Journey" for at least five years but I have not gotten around to reading it. I began reading biographies of Marie-Antoinette when I was about 12 years old, have actually lost count of the number now.

Antonia Fraser is one of my favorite biographers. I have read her biographies of Mary Queen of Scots and the Wives of Henry VIII and I also have "Royal Charles," her study of the life of Charles II, but I've not got around to that one yet either.

The Sofia Coppola film was a bit giddy for my taste, but it was beautiful to look at.
"Be who God intended you to be, and you will set the world on fire" St. Catherine of Siena

"If your dreams don't scare you, they are not big enough" Sir Sidney Poitier
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Old 09-01-2016, 04:38 PM
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Originally Posted by WreathOfLaurels View Post
I have a copy of this, it is one of my favourite books. I'm glad you like it too. Have you seen the Sofia Coppola film based on the book? What do you think of that?
I dragged my husband along to that WreathOfLaurels and he actually enjoyed it - though I don't think he "got" the modern music track.

It was exactly how I expected it to be and I loved it.

I'm only interested in entertainment from the cinema - for education or insight I'll watch a documentary or read a book.

(A bit like the film "Moulin Rouge" with Nicole Kidman/Ewan McGregor - for me, pure entertainment to be immersed in. So many people criticised that too at the time, for similar reasons.)

I have seen the old black and white Norma Shearer movie a few times on TV. That is worth watching if you ever get the chance.

And yes Moonmaiden23, this book has sat on my shelves for a few years - really enjoying reading a bit every day now I've started it.

So good to get into something well written and insightful.
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Old 09-01-2016, 10:11 PM
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I've seen the Norma Shaerer version when it was on tcm once. It was a shame they could not have filmed in colour due to cost constraints as it's pretty amazing to look at and the final scene with MA going to the guillotene is heart wrenching. That was based on stefan Zweigs bio so both books and films are fun to compare.
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