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Saturday, July 5, 2008

Marie-Therese, Child of Terror

Author: Susan Nagel
Reason for Reading: In Their Shoes Reading Challenge
Rating 4.5/5

Marie-Therese was a celebrity from the moment she was born in front of an adoring crowd of onlookers. If I tell you that her mother was Marie-Antoinette, though, you have some idea of how the fairy tale ended. While still very young, Marie-Therese, along with her family, was placed under house arrest and eventually imprisoned in the France's Temple Prison.

She was kept ignorant of her mother and father's death, and was forced to listen to the cries of her brother as he was tortured in an adjacent cell. Eventually she was allowed to leave, and spent much of the rest of her life in exile, waiting for the Monarchy to be welcomed back to France. Until her dying day, she believed in France and represented the hope for the future of France.

I enjoy history, but I remembered very little of this time period from my college history course. Susan Nagel writes passionately and sympathetically about the monarchy of France. Marie-Therese lived an amazing, almost unbelievable life. From her childhood in the fairy-tale palace of Versailles, she faced her country's largest civil crisis with incredible endurance. She lived as an exile, dependent upon her royal cousins abroad for support, as a returned monarch, and was the subject of much speculation. Had she actually been switched with her half-sister and lived out her life as "The Dark Countess"?

This book was an excellent recounting of a tumultous period of history and an amazing woman who came to symbolize France. I had only a very minor complaint, and it has nothing to do with the actual book, but rather the marketing of the book. In the description, it focuses itself on the fact it will be exploring the mystery of whether or not Marie-Therese had been switched with her half-sister. I was expecting the book to be an in-depth examination of the mystery. Actually, the resolution of the mystery with all the research Susan Nagel did was an afterward.

If you have any interest in history, France, and/or interesting heroines, I can definitely reccommend this biography.

Other reviews:
In the Louvre


Nymeth said...

I enjoy history too, but like you I don't remember much about this time period...yet the little I do know fascinates me. I'll definitely look for this one.

Andi said...

I'm glad to hear you liked this one. It sounds great. I first heard about it from Melissa (Booknut). There's a review in this month's Estella's Revenge.

Seachanges said...

I love biographies, and history so this looks like a good one for the ever increasing tbr pile....

Kim L said...

nymeth-it is definitely worth reading! Hope you enjoy.

andi-I'll be looking forward to that review :-)

seachanges-of course!