In this illuminating and sweeping biography of France's most infamous queen, best-selling author Antonia Fraser portrays a young woman whose journey from palace to guillotine was doomed by her innocence and the manipulations of the ancien regime. The life of Marie Antoinette has been told before, but never with such sympathy. Antonia Fraser takes us behind the scenes to tell the story of the fourteen-year-old Archduchess of Austria's arrival at the French Court of Versailles, betrothed to the reluctant future King Louis XVI. Hostage to her mother Empress Maria Theresa's foreign policy, Marie Antoinette was immediately accused of political interference by the French, yet she was not interested in state affairs. The kind of queen that Marie Antoinette wanted to be - gracious, philanthropic, patroness of the arts (especially music), and above all maternal and protective of her private life - was not to be. She was criticized fiercely for not following the expensive and intransigent ways of Versailles. Her marriage was a disaster and she was publicly ridiculed for her initial inability to conceive an heir. Her low self-esteem led to years of frivolity and extravagance. Yet after 1789 when she at last became a mother, and her husband collapsed into weakness, Marie Antoinette found both the spirit and the courage to face her accusers and her tragic end. Marie Antoinette is a work of impeccable scholarship that took five years to complete. In preparing her material for this work, Antonia Fraser researched the archives of Austria and France and visited all the sites associated with the Queen. The result is a masterpiece of historical non-fiction.