100 books like Marie Antoinette

By Antonia Fraser,

Here are 100 books that Marie Antoinette fans have personally recommended if you like Marie Antoinette. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution

Stew Ross Author Of Where Did They Put the Guillotine?-Marie Antoinette's Last Ride: Volume 2 A Walking Tour of Revolutionary Paris

From my list on the French Revolution without losing your head.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m not a trained historian (I received my B.S. in geology and spent my career in commercial banking). However, I grew up in Europe during the 1960s and developed a passion for history. I learned to write as a banker back in the “good old” days. I enjoyed it so much that I told myself, “One day, I'm going to write a book.” Well, that day came in Nashville when I was running a small company. Then I found Leonard Pitt’s book called Walks Through Lost Paris. As we walked through the streets of Paris, I turned to my wife and said, “I can write a book like this.” And so I did.

Stew's book list on the French Revolution without losing your head

Stew Ross Why did Stew love this book?

Mr. Schama’s chronicle is considered the essential historical tome of the French Revolution. He presents the background and events leading to the revolution through its end when Robespierre was executed. The author leaves no stone unturned and many of the people, events, and outcomes have chilling similarities to our contemporary world more than 230-years later.

I like how Mr. Schama sticks to the facts. The reader is allowed to digest the events and reach their own conclusions. I think the lessons from the French Revolution are very fluid and every generation can learn from them.

At one point during the 1970s, Chinese Premier Zhou En-lai was asked what he thought was the significance of the French Revolution. He answered, “It’s too soon to tell.” I’m not sure I agree.

By Simon Schama,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Citizens as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the great landmarks of modern history publishing, Simon Schama's Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution is the most authoritative social, cultural and narrative history of the French Revolution ever produced.

'Monumental ... provocative and stylish, Simon Schama's account of the first few years of the great Revolution in France, and of the decades that led up to it, is thoughtful, informed and profoundly revisionist'
Eugen Weber, The New York Times Book Review

'The most marvellous book I have read about the French Revolution'
Richard Cobb, The Times

'Dazzling - beyond praise - He has chronicled the vicissitudes…


Book cover of Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution

Will Bashor Author Of Marie Antoinette's Darkest Days: Prisoner No. 280 in the Conciergerie

From my list on Marie Antoinette from a fan and a historian.

Why am I passionate about this?

Although the books on my list all delve into the history of Queen Marie Antoinette and her family, they also provide an understanding of the chaotic period leading up to the French Revolution. I’ve always been fascinated by the historical drama, controversy, and tragedy of her personal life, but the readings on my list also explore the social changes in manners, clothing styles, and class distinctions that accompanied the political unrest.

Will's book list on Marie Antoinette from a fan and a historian

Will Bashor Why did Will love this book?

Weber’s biography of Marie Antoinette offers a unique take on the foreign queen’s story. Using fashion as a tool to explore her life at the tumultuous court of Versailles, Weber craftily paints a vivid picture of her flaws and her role in the tragic end of the monarchy.

Having researched Marie Antoinette for my own books, I felt that Weber’s biography did the best job of transporting me into her world. As a history buff, I was amazed at the importance of the queen’s wardrobe, hair, and accessories. It was also an introduction to her hairdresser and her milliner, two important characters who made the queen the fashion icon of Europe at the time.

By Caroline Weber,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Queen of Fashion as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Washington Post Book World Best Book of the Year

When her carriage first crossed over from her native Austria into France, fourteen-year-old Marie Antoinette was taken out, stripped naked before an entourage, and dressed in French attire to please the court of her new king. For a short while, the young girl played the part.

But by the time she took the throne, everything had changed. In Queen of Fashion, Caroline Weber tells of the radical restyling that transformed the young queen into an icon and shaped the future of the nation. With her riding gear, her white furs,…


Book cover of Fatal Purity: Robespierre and the French Revolution

Stew Ross Author Of Where Did They Put the Guillotine?-Marie Antoinette's Last Ride: Volume 2 A Walking Tour of Revolutionary Paris

From my list on the French Revolution without losing your head.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m not a trained historian (I received my B.S. in geology and spent my career in commercial banking). However, I grew up in Europe during the 1960s and developed a passion for history. I learned to write as a banker back in the “good old” days. I enjoyed it so much that I told myself, “One day, I'm going to write a book.” Well, that day came in Nashville when I was running a small company. Then I found Leonard Pitt’s book called Walks Through Lost Paris. As we walked through the streets of Paris, I turned to my wife and said, “I can write a book like this.” And so I did.

Stew's book list on the French Revolution without losing your head

Stew Ross Why did Stew love this book?

There has been much written about Maximilien Robespierre (in French and English).

I enjoyed Ms. Scurr’s biography because it is well-written, superbly researched, and represents a complete picture of the ruthless leader of the Jacobins and the French Revolution. The author paints her young bourgeois subject as the zealous revolutionary who demanded nothing less than complete devotion to Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité. Responsible for the period we know as “The Terror,” Robespierre’s edicts were so severe that people lost their heads if even suspected of a “crime.”

As so often happens, what goes around, comes around. Robespierre’s downfall is outlined in detail and serves as a warning to political and other leaders whose extremist views are imposed on people.  

By Ruth Scurr,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Fatal Purity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Robespierre was only 36 when he died, sent to the guillotine where he had sent thousands ahead of him. Only a few months before, this pale and fragile man, formal, anxious to the point of paranoia, steeled by deep-held principles, had held centre place in the new Festival of the Supreme Being, wearing his sky-blue coat and decreeing a new religion for France. Robespierre and the Revolution were inseparable: a single inflexible tyrant. But what turned a shy young lawyer into the living embodiment of the Terror at its most violent? Admirers called him 'the great incorruptible'; critics dubbed him…


Book cover of Marie-Therese, Child of Terror: The Fate of Marie Antoinette's Daughter

Will Bashor Author Of Marie Antoinette's Darkest Days: Prisoner No. 280 in the Conciergerie

From my list on Marie Antoinette from a fan and a historian.

Why am I passionate about this?

Although the books on my list all delve into the history of Queen Marie Antoinette and her family, they also provide an understanding of the chaotic period leading up to the French Revolution. I’ve always been fascinated by the historical drama, controversy, and tragedy of her personal life, but the readings on my list also explore the social changes in manners, clothing styles, and class distinctions that accompanied the political unrest.

Will's book list on Marie Antoinette from a fan and a historian

Will Bashor Why did Will love this book?

Susan Nagel charted Marie-Thérèse's life during the turmoil of the French Revolution. The only survivor of the royal family locked in Temple Prison, despite the harrowing experience of her family’s demise and the French Revolution, Marie Antoinette’s daughter emerged as a remarkably strong figure in French history.

Marie-Thérèse journeyed from the horrors of the Temple prison and her family’s death to a dignified role at court when she married her cousin and the monarchy returned after the Revolution and Napoleon’s empire. I was amazed at how little I knew about Marie-Thérèse—she was even queen for 20 minutes when her husband reigned and abdicated!

By Susan Nagel,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Marie-Therese, Child of Terror as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In December 1795, seventeen-year-old Marie-Therese, the only surviving child of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI, fled Paris's notorious Temple Prison. Kept in solitary confinement after her parents' brutal execution during the Terror, she had been unaware of the fate of her family, save the cries she heard of her young brother being tortured in an adjacent cell. She emerged to an uncertain future: an orphan, exile and focus of political plots and marriage schemes of the crowned heads of Europe. Susan Nagel tells a remarkable story of an astonishing woman whose life was shrouded in mystery, from her birth in…


Book cover of Women of the French Revolution

Stew Ross Author Of Where Did They Put the Guillotine?-Marie Antoinette's Last Ride: Volume 2 A Walking Tour of Revolutionary Paris

From my list on the French Revolution without losing your head.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m not a trained historian (I received my B.S. in geology and spent my career in commercial banking). However, I grew up in Europe during the 1960s and developed a passion for history. I learned to write as a banker back in the “good old” days. I enjoyed it so much that I told myself, “One day, I'm going to write a book.” Well, that day came in Nashville when I was running a small company. Then I found Leonard Pitt’s book called Walks Through Lost Paris. As we walked through the streets of Paris, I turned to my wife and said, “I can write a book like this.” And so I did.

Stew's book list on the French Revolution without losing your head

Stew Ross Why did Stew love this book?

Women played a major role in the French Revolution. Providing fuel for the core of the revolution, the female sans-culottes, poissardes, and other working-class women were instrumental in shaping the events and opinions of the revolutionaries such as Robespierre and Danton.

During the revolution, prominent women became agitators, hosted politically influential salons, led several major revolutionary clubs, wrote contemporary political position papers, organized and led women in para-military groups, and murdered key revolutionaries. The women of the French Revolution were no “shrinking violets.”

Ms. Stephens’s book is an excellent introduction to the various women who influenced the revolutionaries on a day-to-day intellectual basis. Madame Guillotine did not discriminate by gender⏤many of these women ultimately lost their heads.

By Winfred Stephens,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Women of the French Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it.

This work is in the "public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work.

Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. We appreciate your support of the preservation process, and thank…


Book cover of The Giant of the French Revolution: Danton, a Life

Stew Ross Author Of Where Did They Put the Guillotine?-Marie Antoinette's Last Ride: Volume 2 A Walking Tour of Revolutionary Paris

From my list on the French Revolution without losing your head.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m not a trained historian (I received my B.S. in geology and spent my career in commercial banking). However, I grew up in Europe during the 1960s and developed a passion for history. I learned to write as a banker back in the “good old” days. I enjoyed it so much that I told myself, “One day, I'm going to write a book.” Well, that day came in Nashville when I was running a small company. Then I found Leonard Pitt’s book called Walks Through Lost Paris. As we walked through the streets of Paris, I turned to my wife and said, “I can write a book like this.” And so I did.

Stew's book list on the French Revolution without losing your head

Stew Ross Why did Stew love this book?

The story of Robespierre’s archnemesis, George-Jacques Danton, is not widely known (Robespierre and Marie Antoinette seem to hog all the attention). This is surprising considering the substantial impact Danton had on the revolution as one of its influential leaders.

Mr. Lawday portrays Danton as he was in real life: a very large and physically imposing man (if you don’t believe this, check out Danton’s statue next to the entrance of the Odéon métro station), quite an athlete (he kept in shape by swimming the Seine), and a natural leader (Danton was the leader of the Cordeliers, the primary competitor to the Jacobins).

Danton was a victim of the revolution and Robespierre. The Swiss-born constitutional monarchist, Jacques Mallet du Pan, wrote, “...like Saturn, the Revolution devours its children.” He was right.

By David Lawday,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Giant of the French Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the Western world’s most epic uprisings, the French Revolution ended a monarchy that had ruled for almost a thousand years. George-Jacques Danton was the driving force behind it. In the first biography of Danton in over forty years, David Lawday reveals the larger-than-life figure who joined the fray at the storming of the Bastille in 1789 and was dead five years later.
To hear Danton speak, his booming voice a roll of thunder, excited bourgeois reformers and the street alike; his impassioned speeches, often hours long, drove the sans culottes to action and kept the Revolution alive. But…


Book cover of The Private Life of Marie Antoinette

Will Bashor Author Of Marie Antoinette's Darkest Days: Prisoner No. 280 in the Conciergerie

From my list on Marie Antoinette from a fan and a historian.

Why am I passionate about this?

Although the books on my list all delve into the history of Queen Marie Antoinette and her family, they also provide an understanding of the chaotic period leading up to the French Revolution. I’ve always been fascinated by the historical drama, controversy, and tragedy of her personal life, but the readings on my list also explore the social changes in manners, clothing styles, and class distinctions that accompanied the political unrest.

Will's book list on Marie Antoinette from a fan and a historian

Will Bashor Why did Will love this book?

I read the French edition of this book, and I found it most helpful as a reference for my own writing because Campan was close to Marie Antoinette as her servant and confidant. Moreover, Campan did not sugarcoat the queen’s life but rather offered an unbiased view of the queen's character.

Having read many current biographies of Marie Antoinette, I was thrilled to find Madam Campan’s because it was a unique and firsthand account of Marie Antoinette’s life at the court of Versailles. More importantly, Campan revealed why Marie Antoinette often behaved the way she did and debunked some of the scandals—some of which are still espoused today. In my opinion, Campan’s writing conveys sincerity and authenticity. On the other hand, some critics feel she is a bit biased.

By Jeanne Louise Henriette Campan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Private Life of Marie Antoinette as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In one of the earliest memoirs of the young Queen of France, Jeanne Louise Henriette Campan - Marie Antoinette's First Lady-in-Waiting and one of her closest and most faithful attendants - paints a dramatic portrait of the queen's personal and political relationship with King Louis XVI of France. First published in two volumes in 1823, this memoir is presented against the backdrop of the French court as it weakened in the madness of an impending revolution. In intricate detail, Campan passionately defends Marie Antoinette's pride and honour in the face of hateful propaganda against her - propaganda that has continued…


Book cover of The Queen's Necklace

Will Bashor Author Of Marie Antoinette's Darkest Days: Prisoner No. 280 in the Conciergerie

From my list on Marie Antoinette from a fan and a historian.

Why am I passionate about this?

Although the books on my list all delve into the history of Queen Marie Antoinette and her family, they also provide an understanding of the chaotic period leading up to the French Revolution. I’ve always been fascinated by the historical drama, controversy, and tragedy of her personal life, but the readings on my list also explore the social changes in manners, clothing styles, and class distinctions that accompanied the political unrest.

Will's book list on Marie Antoinette from a fan and a historian

Will Bashor Why did Will love this book?

Although Alexandre Dumas’ story of the famous missing diamond necklace is part of a series, it portrays the simmering unrest of the French people and their growing distaste for the monarchy and their queen, in particular. Unfortunately, the queen was falsely accused of the exorbitant purchase.

Preferring to read historical nonfiction, I still love this blend of history and fiction with fast-paced adventure at the court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette as the resentment for the queen grows due to the false rumor that she purchased an expensive diamond necklace, the French people are also suffering from hunger, crying for bread. Dumas uses the scandal to create an explosive political climate that foretells the coming of the Revolution.

By Alexandre Dumas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Queen's Necklace as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Queen's Necklace" is a novel by Alexandre Dumas that was published in 1849 and 1850 (immediately following the French Revolution of 1848). It is loosely based on the Affair of the Diamond Necklace, an episode involving fraud and royal scandal that made headlines at the court of Louis XVI in the 1780s.


Book cover of Marie Antoinette: The Last Queen of France

Kevin O'Connell Author Of Bittersweet Tapestry

From my list on fascinating women of 16th and 18th century Europe.

Why am I passionate about this?

Whilst I was born in America, growing up in an old Irish family with a long history and a powerful sense of its past, I learnt a great deal of Irish, British, and European (especially French) history from an early age – proving valuable in both of my careers – one, as an international business lawyer, the other as a full-time writer of historical fiction. As a result of a “very Irish” numinous connection with the Gaelic poet, Eileen O’Connell, I frequently find myself drawn to books about strong, courageous, and memorable women – particularly those who lived in interesting times, such as the tumultuous days of Sixteenth and Eighteenth-Century Europe.  

Kevin's book list on fascinating women of 16th and 18th century Europe

Kevin O'Connell Why did Kevin love this book?

I am perhaps more familiar with – and fonder of – Marie Antoinette than I am of any other historical personage. Emersed in French history since an early age, I have had a near-lifetime fascination for this complicated woman – who never said, “Let them eat cake!” 

Having researched Antoinette exhaustively (most recently, in connection with her periodic appearances in my own books), since first reading Evelyn Lever’s masterful, beautifully-written work some twenty years ago, I have found myself frequently returning to it. I am drawn to it for its depth and detail, as well as her balanced treatment of an, in many ways, controversial figure. I recommend it as it is a perfect introduction to the life of a captivating woman, as well as presenting a highly satisfying experience for any lover of fine biography. 

By Evelyne Lever,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Marie Antoinette as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Married for political reasons at the age of 14, Marie Antoinette was naive, impetuous, and ill-equipped for the role in which history cast her. From her birth in Vienna in 1755 through her turbulent, unhappy marriage, the bloody turmoil of the French Revolution, her trial for high treason during which she was accused of incest, and her final beheading, Marie Antoinette's life was the tragic tale of disastrous circumstances colliding.

Drawing upon her diaries, letters, court records, and memoirs, Evelyne Lever paints a vivid portrait of Marie Antoinette, her inner circle, and the lavish court life at Versailles. What emerges…


Book cover of Marie Antoinette: Writings on the Body of a Queen

Kathleen Wellman Author Of Queens and Mistresses of Renaissance France

From my list on women in early modern France.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a historian of early modern France and a professor at Southern Methodist University, I have taken students to Paris on a study abroad program for more than twenty summers. Students were invariably intrigued by the relationship of Henry II, Catherine de Medici, and Diane de Poitiers. The young prince married Catherine de Medici at the age of fourteen but the thirty-six-year-old Diane de Poitiers became his mistress when he was sixteen and remained so for the rest of his life. The complexities of that relationship and the significance of both women led me to conclude that the history of the Renaissance could be told through the lives of the queens and mistresses.

Kathleen's book list on women in early modern France

Kathleen Wellman Why did Kathleen love this book?

This collection of articles offers an intriguing approach to the topic of women, power, and sex by focusing on the many uses of Marie Antoinette. The essays, by prominent historians, art historians, and literary scholars, examine Marie Antoinette as a “site of history” where political and cultural contests occurred. The authors analyze pamphlets, archival materials, portraits, French Revolutionary pornography, and modern films to consider the central questions Marie Antoinette raised about her identity as a foreign queen, woman, wife, mother, and political figure.

She embodied the contradictions in old regime politics, culture, and gender identity and has been used subsequently to address political and gender issues to the present. Each essay offers a distinct, intriguing perspective on the reciprocal influence of this queen and the history of France. The collection reveals the wealth of purposes this queen served and the rich variety of interpretations she provoked.

By Dena Goodman (editor), Thomas E. Kaiser (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Marie Antoinette as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Marie-Antoinette is one of the most fascinating and controversial figures in all of French history. This volume explores the many struggles by various individuals and groups to put right Marie's identity, and it simultaneously links these struggles to larger destabilizations in social, political and gender systems in France.

Looking at how Marie was represented in politics, art, literature and journalism, the contributors to this volume reveal how crucial political and cultural contexts were enacted "on the body of the queen" and on the complex identity of Marie. Taken together, these essays suggest that it is precisely because she came to…


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