Monday, June 23, 2008

Marie-Therese, A Child of Terror: The Fate of Marie Antoinette's Daughter by Susan Nagel

Marie-Therese, Child of Terror: The Fate of Marie Antoinette's Daughter
Susan Nagel
Bloomsbury USA
448 pages
Book provided by Authors On The Web

When Holy Roman Emperor Joseph I died without a male heir in 1711, the crown passed to his brother, Charles VI.
~ First sentence, Chapter 1 - Sex and Politics, Marie-Therese, Child of Terror ~

What was the fate of Marie-Thérèse (1778–1851) after the beheadings of her parents, King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette of France? Nagel, professor of humanities at Marymount Manhattan College (Mistress of the Elgin Marbles), relates the dramatic highs and lows experienced by the woman known as Madame Royale. Her uncle, the Austrian emperor, wanted her to marry his brother, when she escaped from the Temple Prison at age 17 after three hellish years. Instead, she endured a loveless and childless marriage to her Bourbon cousin the Duc d'Angoulême, but became the close political ally of their uncle, Louis XVIII, whom she joined in his peripatetic exile and saw in his triumphant return to France in 1814 as king. Marie Thérèse survived the 1830 abdication of her father-in-law, Charles X, and died in exile. Known for her kindness and wit, she also endured persistent rumors that she was not the real Marie-Thérèse and the constant threat of abduction and assassination.

A thoroughly engrossing non-fiction book that reads like a novel. It is filled with rich and exacting detail of Marie-Therese's life and no stone is left unturned. One would think that a book like this would be slow going, not so. The author brings the characters, times and places to life and you become enmeshed in the world around you. Marie-Therese was truly a remarkable woman considering what she went through as both a child and an adult. She forgave the people of France for the horrendous treatment of her family and always believed until the end that she would see her family restored and returned to glory. She never stopped loving her country. I very much enjoyed this book and recommended it to any lover of historical non-fiction or fiction.


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