MARIE ANTOINETTE was a Top Ten bestseller and has sold well over 170,000 paperbacks to date Antonia Fraser's biography of Marie Antoinette was the basis of Sofia Coppola's recent movie on the French queen THE SIX WIVES OF HENRY VIII sold over 150,000 copies in hardback alone As read on BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week 'Written with a rare combination of sympathy, erudition and high literary accomplishment, this book is a delight' Mail on Sunday 'A wonderfully rounded portrait of the philandering king... Fraser has evoked a world by exercising the gifts that make her one of the most brilliant biographers of our time: her scholarship and her great humanity. Precise details bring the past to life' Daily Telegraph 'Bringing vividly to life the fairytale dazzle of the most splendid court in Western history... lively and wholly absorbing' The Times
Since 1969, Antonia Fraser has written many acclaimed historical works which have been international bestsellers, including Marie Antoinette, Mary Queen of Scots (James Tait Black Memorial Prize), Cromwell: Our Chief of Men, The Six Wives of Henry VIII and The Gunpowder Plot: Terror and Faith in 1605 (St Louis Literary Award; CWA Non-Fiction Gold Dagger). Antonia Fraser was made CBE in 1999, and awarded the Norton Medlicott Medal by the Historical Association in 2000. She is married to the playwright Harold Pinter and lives in London.
Internationally acclaimed biographer and historian Fraser has written another fascinating and accessible biography. Her focus is on the private life rather than the power and political achievement of that larger-than-life sovereign, Louis XIV of France. Beginning with his relationship with his mother, Anne of Austria, Fraser argues that the happiest moments of Louis's life were associated with women. She details many (though admittedly not all) of his liaisons, interweaving the narrative with rich historical insights about the customs of court life, including practices regarding contraception, sexuality, and sexual initiation. A secondary theme is the apparent contradiction between the enormous power that the Catholic Church held over conscience and behavior at the time and the king's clearly immoral actions. Absolute kings, as God's representatives on Earth, were expected to behave better than their subjects, and Fraser shows how Anne of Austria worried about her son's promiscuity and his salvation. Fraser also wonders about the extent to which Louis's paramours might be termed victims, and she tries to uncover the perceptions that they had of themselves and of their relationship with Louis. She stresses his generosity and courtesy to them and his enjoyment of female company outside the bedroom. A glossary of principal characters and a chronological political summary help general readers understand the historical context. Recommended for public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/06.] Marie Marmo Mullaney, Caldwell Coll., NJ Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
"A sparkling history which captures the giddy quality of the times" SUNDAY TELEGRAPH "Vividly capturing 17th-century Europe's most extravagant court.' -- Mark Comber THE DAILY EXPRESS 'Antonia Fraser's colourful history emphasises the conflict between private pleasure and religious dut in the life of Europe's grandest Catholic ruler.' -- Simon Shaw THE MAIL ON SUNDAY 'Fraser brilliantly dissects the intense rivalry of the ladies who indulged in 'commerce' with the king. -- Ian Pindar THE OBSERVER 'this enjoyable account. Fraser brings to life the female stars circling the Sun King in an account that successfully combines erudition with gossipy stories of the kind the Versailles courtiers loved so much.' THE SUNDAY TIMES
Prolific royal biographer Fraser (Marie Antoinette) has assiduously researched her measured yet engrossing study, shedding welcome light on the galaxy of influential women who orbited the dazzling Sun King. The most important woman in Louis XIV's life, in Fraser's telling, was probably the first-his mother, Anne of Austria. The voluptuous, pleasure-loving but pious and dignified queen regent inculcated Louis with the notion that he was a godlike miracle who was nevertheless accountable to the deity for his sins. As this narrowly focused history suggests, Louis was constantly trying to reconcile his gargantuan sexual appetite with his duty to his people and his God. Louis gave up his first love, the bold and amusing Marie Mancini, to marry his graceless first cousin, the Spanish princess Maria Teresa. A serious flirtation with his charming sister-in-law Henriette-Anne, sister of England's Charles II, ended when Louis fell for Charles and Henriette's decoy, the timid virgin Louise de La Valliere. In sexual thrall to the intelligent, magnetic Athenais, the Marquise de Montespan, the king intriguingly threw her over for Francoise Scarron, the puritanical governess to their bastards. Lastly, Louis gave his heart to his spirited granddaughter-in-law Adelaide, who died of measles within days of her husband, the Dauphin. (Oct. 17) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.