Marie Antoinette's World: Intrigue, Infidelity, and Adultery in Versailles - Blog Tour and Review

Marie Antoinette's World

Will BASHOR

on tour July 20-August 14 with    

Marie Antoinette’s World: Intrigue, Infidelity, And Adultery In Versailles

[history/biographical nonfiction]
Release date: June 15, 2020
Postponed due to Covid-19: July 30, 2020 at Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Hardcover and ebook, 320 pages

SYNOPSIS

This riveting book explores the little-known intimate life of Marie Antoinette and her milieu in a world filled with intrigue, infidelity, adultery, and sexually transmitted diseases. Will Bashor reveals the intrigue and debauchery of the Bourbon kings from Louis XIII to Louis XV, which were closely intertwined with the expansion of Versailles from a simple hunting lodge to a luxurious and intricately ordered palace. It soon became a retreat for scandalous conspiracies and rendezvous—all hidden from the public eye.

When Marie Antoinette arrived, she was quickly drawn into a true viper’s nest, encouraged by her imprudent entourage. Bashor shows that her often thoughtless, fantasy-driven, and notorious antics were inevitable given her family history and the alluring influences that surrounded her. Marie Antoinette’s frivolous and flamboyant lifestyle prompted a torrent of scathing pamphlets, and Bashor scrutinizes the queen’s world to discover what was false, what was possible, and what, although shocking, was most probably true.

Readers will be fascinated by this glimpse behind the decorative screens to learn the secret language of the queen’s fan and explore the dark passageways and staircases of endless intrigue at Versailles.


My Take:

I haven't read Will Bashor's other books about Marie Antoinette, but I have a lifelong interest in French history and Versailles in particular. Marie Antoinette's World starts with a history of Versailles and how it was used by the kings through the years. That was actually very interesting and it sets up how the atmosphere of the Palace of Versailles influences everyone who lives there.

The book is organized chronologically. This works well to demonstrate the evolution of the palace, its uses, and its perception by the population. The palace often seems to have been a place to indulge in and hide certain kinds of behavior. I found this to be the most interesting aspect of the book.

As stated in the Introduction of the book, this is not an unbiased look at Marie Antoinette and I found this very disconcerting. I found some of the sources used to create a picture of who Marie Antoinette was as a person to be questionable - I didn't find the handwriting analysis or astrological charts to be relevant or compelling.

The chapter on the pamphlets published about Marie Antoinette was quite interesting. The chapter examines in detail some of the pamphlets and gives a pretty clear picture of how women who don't behave according to certain standards are maligned by men. As a "foreigner", Marie Antoinette was always something of a target for certain factions. But it was interesting that as Marie Antoinette grew up and became more interested in politics and policy and began using her influence and power, she became a much larger target and the attacks became much more personal. There is a lot to unpack in this book and the reader will have a lot to consider. I found myself pondering over how little progress society has made regarding women with power. It seems that they are still threatening to many and we have a long ways to go in that regard.

While I didn't like the biased nature of the book, I did find much of it very interesting and worthwhile to read. There are lots of notes and sources which is always useful.  I feel that any reader who is interested in French history, the French Revolution, and Marie Antoinette in particular, will find Marie Antoinette's World to be a good addition to their reading and library.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Will Bashor pictureWill Bashor is the author of the award-winning Marie Antoinette’s Head: The Royal Hairdresser, the Queen, and the Revolution and Marie Antoinette’s Darkest Days: Prisoner No. 280 in the Conciergerie. He holds a doctorate in international studies from the American Graduate School in Paris and is professor of global issues at Franklin University. He lives in Barcelona, Spain.

Visit his website, or connect with him here:
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