On the morning of 2 November 1755, Empress Maria Theresa gave birth to her 15th child, a daughter named Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna – and she would go down in history as the French Queen Marie Antoinette. In 1770, she married the future King Louis XVI, and they would go on to have four children together – though two would tragically die young. As the French Revolution descended upon them, the family would be decimated. Only their daughter Marie Thérèse would leave France alive after many months of imprisonment. At 12:15 in the afternoon on 16 October 1793, Marie Antoinette was guillotined. Her last words were to the execution, on whose foot she had accidentally stepped. “Pardon me, sir, I meant not to do it.”
Marie-Antoinette: The Making of a French Queen by John Hardman tries to show us an independent and powerful Queen, much misunderstood and ready for a fresh look at her life. However, she disappears from her own book by the introduction of so many different characters small and big. I was surprised to see her miscarriage skipped over in one line and I felt really disconnected from Marie-Antoinette while reading this. I just couldn’t get into it, which I thought was a real shame as I had been really looking forward to this book.