• Marie Antoinette

  • The Journey
  • By: Antonia Fraser
  • Narrated by: Donada Peters
  • Length: 20 hrs and 27 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (539 ratings)

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Marie Antoinette

By: Antonia Fraser
Narrated by: Donada Peters
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Publisher's Summary

France's iconic queen, Marie Antoinette, wrongly accused of uttering the infamous "Let them eat cake", was alternately revered and reviled during her lifetime. For centuries since, she has been the object of debate, speculation, and the fascination so often accorded illustrious figures in history. Married in mere girlhood, this essentially lighthearted child was thrust onto the royal stage and commanded by circumstance to play a significant role in European history. Antonia Fraser's lavish and engaging portrait excites compassion and regard for all aspects of the queen, immersing the listener not only in the coming-of-age of a graceful woman, but in the culture of an unparalleled time and place.
©2001 Antonia Fraser (P)2001 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"The portrait is drawn delicately, with pleasant touches of humor...Fraser's approach is controlled and thoughtful." (Publishers Weekly)
"Absorbing as ever. Fraser's blend of insight and research persuade us that this unfortunate queen deserves neither the vilification nor the idealization she has received." (The New Yorker)
"Donada Peters...excels at injecting subtle irony into seemingly flat narrative. She handles the snotty comments and the lewd scandal-mongering of the court with equal aplomb. Fraser is one of the most highly respected and best-selling biographers of our time, and it's easy to see why in this enlightening glimpse into the turbulent France of the 1770s." (AudioFile)

What listeners say about Marie Antoinette

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Annoying Narration

I love the biography - it is well written and engaging (as are most of her books) but the narration really destroyed it for me. I quit listening 1/2 way through and went for the print edition. A thoroughly annoying English granny accent with atrocious English-public-school French pronounciations set my teeth on edge.

I advise people to listen to the sample first to see if they can stand the narration before they decide to download this audio version of this great book.

20 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Great if you can survive the narrator

Antonia Fraser has an amazing knack for writing biographies that are both impeccably researched and absolutely entertaining to read, and Marie Antoinette is no exception. Fraser takes us into the life of the young "Antoine," the daughter of the strong, hands-on empress of Austria, Maria-Teresa, who has raised all her children to be rulers and consorts. We then follow Marie Antoinette from her arrival at the French court, where courtiers compete for the right to help her dress and privacy becomes a distant memory, to her affectionate but passionless marriage to the Dauphin (unconsummated for seven years) to her frivolous years as a fashion goddess, gambler and party animal and her final years as a woman who faced slander, intrigue, defamation and treason charges with dignity and grace. Whatever her shallow moments, Fraser's Marie Antoinette has wisdom, steel and immense loyalty. Alas, the narrator is so unpleasant that I abandoned this book several times in frustration. Donalda Peters has one of those annoying, tight, dry, upper-crust British voices that make the listener feel like a disobedient child being lectured by a menacing nanny. Although her French pronunciation is mostly adequate, Peters seems unable or unwilling to pronounce the French name "Marie," and refers to the heroine as "Marry Antoinette" and sometimes even sounds as if she is saying "Murray Antoinette." What an annoying disservice to a strong book.

18 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Very Detailed

I think this book is probably the best biography around for those interested in Marie Antoinette's life and place in history. I have thoroughly enjoyed it and feel as though I am an expert now on the subject! It is very well written and detailed which really paints a lively and in-depth picture of the late queen of France.
As to Donalda Peters narration- I had no problem listening to her and do not think her voice detracts from the story at all.

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A touching tale

Fraser's elegant telling and touching tale of the maligned and exploited queen contains perfect proportions of intimate domestic detail, analysis and historic background. I was carried along by it's compelling momentum and even-handed description of the personal and social tragedies of the French Revolution.

Yes, the reader Donada Peters takes a little getting used to. But those completely intolerant of her British accent deprive themselves of an excellent "read".

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

UTTERLY CAPTIVATING

Where does Marie Antoinette rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I HAE LISTENED TO SO MANY... BUT THIS IS AMONG THE TOP.

Who was your favorite character and why?

THE PROTAGONIST

What about Donada Peters’s performance did you like?

SHE IS CURRENTLY MY FAVORITE READER -- SUCH INTELLIGENCE AND SENSITIVITY IN HER VOICE -- AND SHE CAPTURES THE IRONY AND HUMOR, AS WELL.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

NO, I'D RATHER SAVOR IT.

Any additional comments?

LISTEN TO IT!

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Great book Rough Listen

Once again Antonia Fraser does a magnificent job bringing what could be bland historical research, to life. The problem with this audiobook is the reader. Her voice, once you get used to it is fine. It is her choice of doing foreign accents, male/female voice characters and even children's voices that is .... freaky. I wanted to pull off my headset more than once. Please, next time, just a good solid read would suffice.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent, sympathetic biography

This is a well-written, superbly detailed and very engaging biography of Marie Antoinette. Unlike other reviewers, I thought the narrator did an excellent job, underscoring the drama adequately, provided nice characterizations of the historical figures, and pronounced the French and other foreign names on the whole rather well. It is true that her voice can be a bit harsh at times, but I didn't find it got in the way of enjoying the book.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A Bit Dry

I found it a bit dry for my tastes. I prefer histories that have a bit more of a storytelling style and are perhaps more concerned with detail. For instance, the first Dauphin's death was completely devastating to Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI, who tried in vain to help him improve until the end, but it is more or less glossed over when it actually happens.
This is definitely full of great information and much of it is very interesting but I found myself needing to rewind as I would often zone out as the actions of many other people in her court, and foreign courts, who become difficult to keep track of (i.e. their roles, their loyalties, why their loyalties lie as they do...) over time would be described at length
Fraser doesn't do an adequate job reminding the reader about the motivations of minor figures (in the scheme of the biography) who suddenly pop up again after a lengthy absence in the book. Along with this, there are a lot of lengthy tangents of going back and forth in time suddenly to seemingly simply reference a minor story or quote relevant to the current topic but somehow it's expanded, which then often just ends up distracting from the linear story and usually then doesn't even return to the story it tangented off from. Legal matters of the time and the actual concerns of Revolutionaries are discussed in either an inaccessible or lacking way too.

I enjoyed it as my first bio of Marie Antoinette, and I learned a lot honestly, but it wasn't as easy to get into—for me—as I'm used to most historical biographies being, as I'm a big history nerd.

Also, while I liked the narrator, I ended up having to slow down the speed on her. She speaks very quickly.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Loved this portrait of Marie Antoinette

I am horrified and deeply saddened by the atrocities that plagued this woman's life. What a tragic saga. I hate life. Also I hate the guillotine. F**king gross, France. Gross. Um good narration. I enjoyed this woman's voice. Another insightful historical novel I will recommend to anyone.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Superb detail and well-read

Antonia Fraser writes a detailed account of Marie Antoinette's life supported by primary sources of differing perspectives. As a history teacher, I was delightfully surprised to learn so much more about circumstances surrounding the Queen's life and Europe as a whole during this time period. At times, the story seemed to move a bit slowly because of the detail, but it didn't impact my overall enjoyment. Also, I appreciated the epilogue, which resolved many unanswered questions about MA's legacy.

I was also very satisfied with Donada Peters' narration, especially after reading such critical reviews from others. I love that she used different voices and accents to personalize the LARGE number of people cited in this story, which made it much easier to put everything in context while listening.

2 people found this helpful