10 books like Memoirs from Beyond the Tomb

By François-René de Chateaubriand, Robert Baldick (translator),

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Memoirs from Beyond the Tomb. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Letters from Liselotte

By Maria Kroll,

Book cover of Letters from Liselotte: Elizabeth-Charlotte, Princess Palatine and Duchess of Orleans

Born a German princess, married to Louis XIV’s gay younger brother, ‘Liselotte’, as the Duchesse d’Orleans was often known, was an outsider who also, by her rank, was an insider. She put her venom and her frustrations into her letter-writing, denouncing the French court’s morals, policies, and personnel to her German relations. Versailles made her prefer dogs to people: she called Madame de Maintenon, the king’s second wife, ‘the old whore’. Her letters make us feel we are living at Versailles, when it was at the heart of European politics and culture.

Letters from Liselotte

By Maria Kroll,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Letters from Liselotte as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Married in 1672, at 19, to Louis XIV's bisexual brother, the Duke of Orleans, Liselotte began her voluminous and fascinating correspondence from the Court of Versailles which she continued until her death 50 years later, making her the greatest chronicler of her day. Feared for her sharp tongue and her bluntness, Liselotte refused to be drawn into the viscious life at the Sun King's Court, of which she was outspokenly critical and her letters, collected here in this volume, describe the bawdy, spontaneous and idiosyncratic personages and life of Louis XIV's corrupt court.


Memoirs Duc De Saint-Simon Volume Three

By Louis De Rouvroy Saint-Simon, Lucy Norton (translator),

Book cover of Memoirs Duc De Saint-Simon Volume Three: 1715-1723

Saint-Simon was another passionate outsider. He compensated for his lack of position and favour under Louis XIV by putting his fantasies of omniscience and his psychological perception into his memoirs. One of the great stylists of the French language, he leads readers into a universe where class, personality, and ambition are more important than public issues. He blamed French defeats on Louis XIV’s pride and ignorance. He called Versailles ’the saddest and most unrewarding place in the world’ and the King’s Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, heightening persecution of Protestants, ‘a general abomination born of flattery and cruelty’. At the same time, he praised the King’s ‘incomparable grace and majesty’. ‘Never was a man so naturally polite.’

Memoirs Duc De Saint-Simon Volume Three

By Louis De Rouvroy Saint-Simon, Lucy Norton (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Memoirs Duc De Saint-Simon Volume Three as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the third volume in Lucy Norton's three-volume abridgement and translation of the the memoirs of the Duc de Saint-Simon, first published in the 1960s. The court of Louis XIV, the Sun King, at Versailles was unequalled for splendour in Europe's history, a hotbed of intrigues and jealousy, passion both political and personal, as well as artistic and literary excellence - this is its memorial. This, like the previous volumes, is peppered throughout with character sketches which bring the period to life. The third volume starts with the funeral of Louis XIV, the ensuing violent quarrels of the Duc…


Memoirs of the Comtesse de Boigne 1815 - 1819

By Charles Nicoullaud (editor),

Book cover of Memoirs of the Comtesse de Boigne 1815 - 1819

Madame de Boigne describes the same period as Chateaubriand, whom she disliked, from a liberal perspective. Both had their style and mind improved by suffering during the Emigration, which also made both, for a time, feel half-English. Boigne married a French officer who had made a fortune in India, but failed to tell her he had brought back an Indian wife. She took his money and returned to live with her parents. 

Born with what she called a ‘taste for royalty and the instinct for court life’, she described salons and quarrels, royalty and revolution, Paris and England, from 1780 to 1840. Her friend Count Pozzo di Borgo, for example, she says, would have descended into hell to find enemies for Napoleon, whom he had hated since their childhood in Corsica. She blamed the long foretold revolutions of 1830 and 1848 on monarchs’ exaggerated sense of their infallibility. A genius…

Memoirs of the Comtesse de Boigne 1815 - 1819

By Charles Nicoullaud (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Memoirs of the Comtesse de Boigne 1815 - 1819 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The personal writings of a 18th-19th century French Noble woman taken from her personal writings. Her papers (published in several volumes) throw many side-lights upon a long period extending from the reign of Louis XIV to the Revolution of 1848, and this rather by means of the special details which are narrated than by any generalizations from a wider outlook. This period was in every respect one of the most troubled and extraordinary in French history, and is fertile in events and changes, important though not always fortunate. Mme. De Boigne held an important social position and for nearly sixty…


Les derniers feux de la monarchie

By Charles-Éloi Vial,

Book cover of Les derniers feux de la monarchie

In this dazzling panorama, using many unpublished sources, Vial brilliantly brings to life the French court as it reinvented and redefined itself after 1789. Because of the feeling of insecurity generated by revolutions, coups, and invasions, Napoleon I and III, the restored Bourbons, and Louis-Philippe tried harder, through public ceremonies, court entertainments, artistic patronage, and good works, to win the popularity which they all knew they needed. In its last, and in some ways most splendid century, the French court had to decide what to retain, what to change, whom to trust and whom to invade. Only after trying many different kinds of monarchy, and suffering the military debacle of 1870-71, did the French finally, and in many cases with extreme distaste, accept a republic.

Les derniers feux de la monarchie

By Charles-Éloi Vial,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Les derniers feux de la monarchie as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Le crépuscule de la Cour.

La cour de France n'est pas morte avec l'Ancien Régime. Au contraire, elle n'a cessé de renaître de ses cendres et de se métamorphoser sous les quatre rois – Louis XVI, Louis XVIII, Charles X, Louis-Philippe – et les deux empereurs, Napoléon Ier puis Napoléon III, qui ont occupé le pouvoir de 1789 à 1870.
Écrit à partir de nombreuses archives inédites, ce grand livre raconte la vie quotidienne des souverains successifs et de leurs courtisans. D'une plume alerte, l'auteur transcrit leurs voyages, leurs fêtes et représentations publiques, mais aussi le cœur de leur intimité,…


The French Revolution & What Went Wrong

By Stephen Clarke,

Book cover of The French Revolution & What Went Wrong

No discussion of global history and politics would not be complete without some mention of the French Revolution. Clarke’s book was a wonderful romp into French history, providing an elegant and insightful discussion of what went wrong with the revolution – or why the outcome in la Belle France ended up in the Terror, Republican government and Napoleon Bonaparte, while England became a constitutional monarchy. Clarke offers up considerable food for thought. We would expect nothing less from the same man who wrote 1000 Years of Annoying the French and Talk to the Snail

The French Revolution & What Went Wrong

By Stephen Clarke,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The French Revolution & What Went Wrong as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An entertaining and eye-opening look at the French Revolution, by Stephen Clarke, author of 1000 Years of Annoying the French and A Year in the Merde.

The French Revolution and What Went Wrong looks back at the French Revolution and how it's surrounded in a myth. In 1789, almost no one in France wanted to oust the king, let alone guillotine him. But things quickly escalated until there was no turning back.

The French Revolution and What Went Wrong looks at what went wrong and why France would be better off if they had kept their monarchy.


The Oxford History of the French Revolution

By William Doyle,

Book cover of The Oxford History of the French Revolution

Bill Doyle is the leading British interpreter of the French Revolution and this is a subtle account of its causes and course. Very good on the need to look for specific political causes rather than any supposedly inevitable pattern of socio-economic conflict.

The Oxford History of the French Revolution

By William Doyle,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Since its first publication to mark the bicentenary of the French Revolution in 1989, this Oxford History has established itself as the Revolution's most authoritative and comprehensive one-volume history in English, and has recently been translated into Chinese. Running from the accession of Louis XVI in 1774, it traces the history of France through revolution, terror, and counter-revolution to the final triumph of Napoleon in 1802. It also analyses the impact of
events in France upon the rest of Europe and the world beyond. The study shows how a movement which began with optimism and general enthusiasm soon became a…


The Life of Louis XVI

By John Hardman,

Book cover of The Life of Louis XVI

The great strength of this book is that as well as offering a major reinterpretation of Louis, XVI, it is also a pleasure to read. John Hardman has pioneered the reappraisal of Louis that has been underway over the last twenty years. The unfortunate king has traditionally been portrayed as either reactionary or incompetent (or both). In place of this caricature, Hardman convincingly presents the monarch as a man of high intelligence who was prepared to make many more compromises with the Revolution than historians have allowed. In his view, Louis’ real weakness was not intellectual but psychological: crises of depression that paralysed him at crucial moments after 1789.

The Life of Louis XVI

By John Hardman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A thought-provoking, authoritative biography of one of history's most maligned rulers: France's Louis XVI

"The definitive contribution to our understanding of Louis XVI as a man and a monarch."-P.M. Jones, English Historical Review

"Monumental. . . . Scholars probing the mysteries of the late Old Regime and French Revolution will be working in its shadow for many years to come."-Thomas E. Kaiser, Journal of Modern History

Louis XVI of France, who was guillotined in 1793 during the Revolution and Reign of Terror, is commonly portrayed in fiction and film either as a weak and stupid despot in thrall to his…


Napoleon

By Philip Dwyer,

Book cover of Napoleon: The Path to Power 1769 - 1799

Napoleon Bonaparte brought a decade of revolutionary upheaval to an end when he seized power with the army in November 1799, but he had been made a general by the Revolution and was one of its most celebrated soldiers. The Revolution opened up opportunities for this Corsican “outsider” which would have been impossible before the Revolution: he grabbed them. Dwyer’s prize-winning account of Napoleon’s checkered rise to power at the age of thirty is also a gripping narrative of the unpredictability and drama of the revolutionary decade. It reveals the making of a man whose brilliance, military genius, and vision was qualified by his cynicism, cruelty, and vanity. 

Napoleon

By Philip Dwyer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Napoleon Bonaparte's rise to power was neither inevitable nor smooth; it was full of mistakes, wrong turns and pitfalls. During his formative years his identity was constantly shifting, his character ambiguous and his intentions often ill-defined. He was, however, highly ambitious, and it was this ruthless drive that advanced his career. This book examines the extraordinary evolution of Napoleon's character and the means by which at the age of thirty he became head of the most powerful country in Europe and skilfully fashioned the image of himself that laid the foundation of the legend that endures to this day.


A New World Begins

By Jeremy D. Popkin,

Book cover of A New World Begins: The History of the French Revolution

There are a thousand books on the French Revolution, but most of them focus on the foibles of the aristocracy, or the wild rage of the crowds, or the heroism of Napoleon. Popkin’s new history does a masterful job of covering all the key events and personalities in France in the years leading up to the Revolution and in its unfolding over almost two decades. He is particularly good at placing the Revolution in the context of world history (showing its relation to events in the New World, from the American Revolution to the Revolution in Haiti), and in keeping a focus on the role of the French Revolution in the history of liberty. Indeed, through the eyes of the revolutionaries and their followers in this book, you can watch the dawn of liberty arise in the early years of the Revolution, and then fade under the increasingly militarist and…

A New World Begins

By Jeremy D. Popkin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A New World Begins as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The principles of the French Revolution remain the only possible basis for a just society -- even if, after more than two hundred years, they are more contested than ever before. In A New World Begins, Jeremy D. Popkin offers a riveting account of the revolution that puts the reader in the thick of the debates and the violence that led to the overthrow of the monarchy and the establishment of a new society. We meet Mirabeau, Robespierre, and Danton, in all of their brilliance and vengefulness; we witness the failed escape and execution of Louis XVI; we see women…


The Queen's Fortune

By Allison Pataki,

Book cover of The Queen's Fortune: A Novel of Desiree, Napoleon, and the Dynasty That Outlasted the Empire

Everyone knows about Josephine Bonaparte but what about the woman who came before, Desiree Clary? While the future Queen of Sweden was Napoleon’s first love, she eventually finds herself at odds with one of the greatest generals. I loved reading about another side of the French Revolution and what Napoleon was like before he was famous.

The Queen's Fortune

By Allison Pataki,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A sweeping novel about the extraordinary woman who captured Napoleon’s heart, created a dynasty, and changed the course of history—from the New York Times bestselling author of The Traitor's Wife, The Accidental Empress, and Sisi

“I absolutely loved The Queen’s Fortune, the fascinating, little-known story of Desiree Clary—the woman Napoleon left for Josephine—who ultimately triumphed and became queen of Sweden.”—Martha Hall Kelly, New York Times bestselling author of Lilac Girls

As the French revolution ravages the country, Desiree Clary is faced with the life-altering truth that the world she has known and loved is gone and it’s fallen on her…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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