The most recommended books about Marie Antoinette

Who picked these books? Meet our 15 experts.

15 authors created a book list connected to Marie Antoinette, and here are their favorite Marie Antoinette books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

What type of Marie Antoinette book?

Loading...

Book cover of The Sheep, the Rooster, and the Duck

Deborah Noyes Author Of Lady Icarus: Balloonmania and the Brief, Bold Life of Sophie Blanchard

From my list on being lighter than air and above it all.

Who am I?

As an avid student of curious social history, I’ve wanted to tell the story of early flight for a while. A friend once took me up in a hot-air balloon for my birthday, and I’ve been a balloonomaniac ever since. I’ll never forget the awe I felt that morning in Vermont—the sensation of drifting softly above it all, passing spirit-like through orange-pink clouds just after sunrise with the muffled bark of a distant dog the only sound for miles. It was, to quote Sophie Blanchard, a “sensation incomparable.” 

Deborah's book list on being lighter than air and above it all

Deborah Noyes Why did Deborah love this book?

Now for something completely different. My own book is for middle-grade readers, so I wanted to include another younger title, and it was perfect timing that this rollicking adventure crossed my path when it did. Hilariously droll, Phelan’s illustrated fiction stars characters lauded for their pivotal role in early flight—the three barnyard aeronauts who made the very first ascent in a hot-air balloon. But their career didn’t end there: the sheep, the rooster, and the duck went on to battle injustice, defeat dastardly villains, and expose nefarious plots against society. Phelan’s extraordinary farm animals are more than fearless aeronauts: they’re covert superheroes in a world of sinister secret societies, Benjamin Franklin, and the world’s first heat-ray. High-flying fun!

By Matt Phelan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sheep, the Rooster, and the Duck as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

“A grand, giddy, and, at times, literally soaring tale.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“An amusing, fast-paced tale of land, sky, and spies.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Incredibly creative. . . . A little bit of history, a touch of mystery, and heaps of fun.”—Booklist (starred review)

A Publishers Weekly Best Book

Wherever there is injustice, nefarious plots, or threats to society, the Sheep, the Rooster, and the Duck are there to stop them!

A sly villain with a plan to cause havoc across the globe is no match for three extraordinary animals—and their two young human friends. From acclaimed author and artist…


Book cover of Becoming Marie Antoinette

Juliana Cummings Author Of Sleeping With the Impaler: A Historical Romance About Vlad the Impaler

From my list on historical fiction that bring real people to life.

Who am I?

I’ve been a reader and writer of historical fiction for as long as I remember. As a writer, my goal is to bring these figures from the past alive again. These were real people and I want my readers to see that they are not just photos or stories in a history book.

Juliana's book list on historical fiction that bring real people to life

Juliana Cummings Why did Juliana love this book?

Juliet Gray brought Marie Antoinette to life in this book. We got to understand her from such a young girl who had so much pressure put on her. We see her as kind and childlike but we also see how Marie does mature into a woman who strives to have a loving marriage with her husband while they rule France.

By Juliet Grey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This enthralling confection of a novel, the first in a new trilogy, follows the transformation of a coddled Austrian archduchess into the reckless, powerful, beautiful queen Marie Antoinette.
 
Why must it be me? I wondered. When I am so clearly inadequate to my destiny?

Raised alongside her numerous brothers and sisters by the formidable empress of Austria, ten-year-old Maria Antonia knew that her idyllic existence would one day be sacrificed to her mother’s political ambitions. What she never anticipated was that the day in question would come so soon.

Before she can journey from sunlit picnics with her sisters in…


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.

Who am I?

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

Judith Lissauer Cromwell Author Of Florence Nightingale, Feminist

From my list on biographies of women who made a difference.

Who am I?

I’ve always been captivated by stories about powerful women. After a corporate career as one of the first female executives in the international world of Wall Street, while raising two children as a single working parent, I returned to academia. I am a magna cum laude graduate of Smith College, hold a doctorate in modern European history, with academic distinction, from New York University. I wanted to ascertain whether the mostly male writers of history were correct in attributing the success of exceptional women to the bedroom. Meticulous research yielded a different narrative, one I delight in sharing.

Judith's book list on biographies of women who made a difference

Judith Lissauer Cromwell Why did Judith love this book?

A concise, compelling, and beautifully told story by one of pre-World War II Europe’s finest writers.  Largely based on correspondence between Marie-Antoinette and her mother, Austrian Empress Maria-Theresa, then with the love of her life, Swedish diplomat Count Axel von Fersen, Zweig’s account clarifies the queen’s character development with grace and understanding, and paints a well-rounded, nuanced picture of Marie-Antoinette from her personal pleasures as a mother and lover, to her suffering and courage during the Revolution.  

By Stefan Zweig, Cedar Paul (translator), Eden Paul (translator)

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?

Bringing to life one of the most complex characters in European history

Stefan Zweig based his biography of Marie Antoinette, who became the Queen of France at the age of fifteen, on the correspondence between her and her mother, and her great love the Count Axel von Fersen. Zweig analyzes the chemistry of a woman's soul from her intimate pleasures to her public suffering as a Queen under the weight of misfortune and history. Zweig describes Marie Antoinette in the King's bedroom, in the enchanted and extravagant world of the Trianon, and with her children. And in his account of…


Book cover of Marie Antoinette: The Journey

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.

Who am I?

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?

This is a must read for visitors to Versailles Palace.

I enjoyed this book because Ms. Fraser has a wonderful writing style and she weaves the story of Marie Antoinette from start to finish and even though we know the outcome, it is hard to put down this book. The author’s research is quite detailed and written with little-known facts including Count Axel von Fersen’s role with the queen and her family, attempts to save the royal family, and the king’s failure to consummate the marriage.

You start out feeling sorry for the fourteen-year-old girl who is a pawn in a European power chess game. Soon you are appalled at the way the young queen conducts herself. By the time she reaches middle age, you begin to see her attributes as a wife and mother.

By Antonia Fraser,

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?

The national bestseller from the acclaimed author of The Wives of Henry VIII.  France’s beleaguered queen, Marie Antoinette, wrongly accused of uttering the infamous “Let them eat cake,” was the subject of ridicule and curiosity even before her death; she has since been the object of debate and speculation and the fascination so often accorded tragic figures in history. Married in mere girlhood, this essentially lighthearted, privileged, but otherwise unremarkable child was thrust into an unparalleled time and place, and was commanded by circumstance to play a significant role in history. Antonia Fraser’s lavish and engaging portrait of Marie Antoinette,…


Book cover of To Dance with Kings

Alison Blasdell Author Of The Confederates' Physician

From my list on historic romance to wish you lived in the past.

Who am I?

I love reading novels that take me to another time, place, or adventure (an antithesis to my 30-year career as a professor teaching physiology & pathophysiology to medical and nursing students). I read for entertainment and variety. As an author, I write books I'd like to read! Drawn to history, I've written five historical romances—a woman of courage, intellect, and compassion at the heart of each. I've authored two contemporary espionage thrillers with a woman as the protagonist. I enjoy stepping out of the bounds of empiricism in my novels, blending genres, and stretching the imagination.

Alison's book list on historic romance to wish you lived in the past

Alison Blasdell Why did Alison love this book?

This is also a book I read long ago, and it made me want to write historical fiction novels. This is an astounding story of a young peasant woman who is swept up into the Parisian society of King Louis XVI.

The author's attention to historical details in the construction of Versailles and the French Revolution is a standard that I have judged most novels by. It's a beautiful multi-generational story of love and loss, and I'll admit to tears when reading this book. I usually avoid sad books. I want love to never end. Having said that, I'm so glad I read it, and I was amazed at how much French history I learned!

By Rosalind Laker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked To Dance with Kings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An epic generational tale of loves lost, promises kept, dreams broken, and monarchies shattered, To Dance with Kings is a story of passion and privilege, humble beginnings and limitless ambition.

On a May morning in 1664, in the small village of Versailles, as hundreds of young aristocrats are coming to pay court to King Louis XIV, a peasant fan-maker gives birth to her first and only child, Marguerite. Determined to give her daughter a better life than the one she herself has lived, the young mother vows to break the newborn’s bonds of poverty and ensure that she fulfills her…


Book cover of The Fatal Friendship

Karen Engelmann Author Of The Stockholm Octavo

From my list on to unlock treasures of Sweden’s Gustavian Age.

Who am I?

Stockholm was the first city that I traveled to outside of the U.S. Landing there at Midsommar and visiting the Old Town made an indelible impression. I lived and worked in Sweden for almost 10 years, and had little time for history then, but later found Stockholm in the Gustavian age irresistible as the basis for my first novel. It was a period of cultural flowering, of occult fascinations, social change, and great drama. Readers tend to look further south, in France and Great Britain, for their historical fiction, histories, and biographies, but there are great stories further north as well. 

Karen's book list on to unlock treasures of Sweden’s Gustavian Age

Karen Engelmann Why did Karen love this book?

I loved learning about the close ties that existed between Sweden and France in the late 18th century and the French Revolution figured in the plot of my novel. This fabulous non-fiction work explores the politics, intrigues, and plotting of the period through the intimate connection between Marie Antoinette, doomed Queen of France, and her purported lover, Axel von Fersena Swedish nobleman. The revolution was reaching a fevered pitch when King Gustav III of Sweden sent von Fersen to assist the French royal family in their escape from Paris — an epic failure told with passion by Mr. Loomis! 

By Stanley Loomis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Binding: HB Condition: Very Good Dustjacket: Good, top right front chipped. Details: About the puzzling friendship between Count Axel Fersen and Marie Antoinetter, Queen of France, and his role in the Royal Family's disastrous flight to Varennes at the outset of the French Revolution. Book Club Edition. From Stanley Loomis, a well-known author whose books have been published in 8 languages. Size: 22cm X 14.5cm Weight: 500 grams "


Book cover of Antoinette's Sister

Louis Mendola Author Of The Kingdom of Sicily 1130-1860

From my list on insight into the history and society of southern Italy.

Who am I?

Often, historians choose their field or specialty, but sometimes, the field chooses the historian. Being a historian of southern Italy, the land of my ancestors reflects far more than a merely academic interest. As a personal pursuit, it isn’t just what I am but who I am. I write the kind of books that I wish had existed when I wrote my first peer-reviewed article in 1984. This has come to include everything from general histories to specialised studies to translations of medieval chronicles. Through the website Best of Sicily, online since 1999, my work has reached a readership of millions over the course of two decades.

Louis' book list on insight into the history and society of southern Italy

Louis Mendola Why did Louis love this book?

Historical fiction, when well-researched, sometimes brings us uncommon insight into people and their times. This is one of those rare cases.

Very little has been written in English about Maria Carolina of Austria, Queen of Naples and Sicily (later the Two Sicilies) as the consort of Ferdinando I de Bourbon, except in dynastic histories such as those of Harold Acton.

In the absence of a major biography, I recommend this book as a worthy introduction, tracing the queen’s steps and considering her actions as the power behind the throne.

By Diana Giovinazzo,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Antoinette's Sister as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As Marie Antoinette took her last breath as Queen of France in Paris, another formidable monarch-Antoinette's dearly beloved sister, Charlotte-was hundreds of miles away, in Naples, fighting desperately to secure her release from the revolutionaries who would take her life. Little did Charlotte know, however, that her sister's execution would change the course of history-and bring about the end of her own empire.

"You are the queen. You are the queen that Antoinette wanted to be."

Austria 1767: Maria Carolina Charlotte-tenth daughter and one of sixteen children of Empress Maria Theresa of Austria-knows her position as a Habsburg archduchess will…


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

Susan Broomhall Author Of The Identities of Catherine de’ Medici

From my list on women and power in history.

Who am I?

I'm Professor and Director of the Gender and Women’s History Research Centre at the Australian Catholic University. I've always been interested in the power of ideologies about gender to shape people’s lives, and in the experiences of women in times past. I started off exploring these topics in early modern Europe and then looked at how women, and ideas about gender, shaped the ways European peoples engaged in the world at this period. This has helped me to see the very significant ways that the lives of women and men are always shaped by gender ideologies across the globe and across time, and the innovative ways that people respond to the challenges and opportunities that they encounter.

Susan's book list on women and power in history

Susan Broomhall Why did Susan love this book?

This was one of the first studies of Marie Antoinette that aimed to take seriously her style as a critical political tool, one that worked both for the ill-fated French queen and against her. The study of bodily adornment, clothing, and fashion choices are now a key part of how we understand gender politics and the politics of the body both in history and in our own lives. 

Importantly, Weber situates Marie Antoinette’s understanding of the importance of her fashion in the wider context of the culture of display at Versailles, where close examination of bodies in ceremonial, sartorial, and sexual labour was the norm. From caca dauphin to the Diamond Necklace Affair, Weber traces the changing dynamics of Marie Antoinette’s relationship with fashion, from her time as a trendsetter to the ways in which it became part of a compelling narrative for the queen’s downfall.

By Caroline Weber,

Why should I read it?

2 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 Dancing to the Precipice: The Life of Lucie de la Tour Du Pin, Eyewitness to an Era

Kevin O'Connell Author Of Bittersweet Tapestry

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

Who am I?

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?

Having read numerous books about the French Revolution, amongst my favourites is this fascinating biography of Lucie Dillon – who became Lucie du la Tour du Pin – by Caroline Morehead. I unhesitatingly recommend it, certain that, from Morehead’s striking presentation, most readers will experience a keen sense of what it was like to live during the twilight of the Ancien Régime, and thence on, into and through the nightmare that followed. As an Irish-French aristocrat, whose father commanded the regiment of the Irish Brigade of France that bore the family’s name, whilst her mother was a lady-in-waiting to Marie Antoinette, Lucie was in a singular position to observe and chronicle the tragic upheaval. 

Relying in part on Lucie’s own published memoir, as well as numerous primary sources, including family papers, which her meticulous research uncovered, Morehead tells a powerful story of loss and survival. 

By Caroline Moorehead,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dancing to the Precipice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Lucie de la Tour du Pin was the Pepys of her generation. She witnessed, participated in, and wrote diaries detailing one of the most tumultuous periods of history. From life in the Court of Versailles, through the French Revolution to Napoleon's rule, Lucie survived extraordinary times with great spirit. She recorded people, politics and intrigue, alongside the intriguing minutia of everyday life: food, work, illness, children, manners and clothes.

Caroline Moorehead's richly novelistic biography sets Lucy and her dairies in their wider context, illuminating a remarkable period of history.

Dancing to the Precipice was shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award…