This riveting book explores the little-known intimate life of Marie Antoinette and her milieu in a world filled with intrigue, infidelity, adultery, and sexually transmitted diseases. Will Bashor reveals the intrigue and debauchery of the Bourbon kings from Louis XIII to Louis XV, which were closely intertwined with the expansion of Versailles from a simple hunting lodge to a luxurious and intricately ordered palace. It soon became a retreat for scandalous conspiracies and rendezvous—all hidden from the public eye. When Marie Antoinette arrived, she was quickly drawn into a true viper's nest, encouraged by her imprudent entourage. Bashor shows that her often thoughtless, fantasy-driven, and notorious antics were inevitable given her family history and the alluring influences that surrounded her. Marie Antoinette's frivolous and flamboyant lifestyle prompted a torrent of scathing pamphlets, and Bashor scrutinizes the queen's world to discover what was false, what was possible, and what, although shocking, was most probably true.
Readers will be fascinated by this glimpse behind the decorative screens to learn the secret language of the queen’s fan and explore the dark passageways and staircases of endless intrigue at Versailles.
Will Bashor puts Marie Antoinette’s tumultuous life under the microscope in his historical analysis, Marie Antoinette’s World. Marie Antoinette has long been shrouded in secrecy and scandal, from her marriage to indecisive Louis XVI to her gruesome demise. But the French court was a hotbed of debauchery, excess, and greed long before her coronation. Bashor traces over a century and a half of scurrilous royal affairs, particularly those involving—or allegedly involving—France’s most infamous queen.... Bashor’s thorough discussions reveal that Marie Antoinette was neither an angel nor a demon, but rather a complex, flawed human being. Marie Antoinette’s World is a frank portrait of the queen and the many scandals that plagued her reign and legacy.
— Foreword Reviews
[Bashor] delivers his most detailed vision of the doomed queen yet . . . Overall, it’s a glorious and realistic representation of Versailles that history buffs will enjoy. A full, realistic, and completely engrossing view of Marie Antoinette’s life and times.
Will Bashor dares debunk all the romantic views of the queen, thanks to his scholarly knowledge and research . . . an excellent historical study of Marie Antoinette’s real world, not the one defended by the romantic and idealistic views that are unfortunately too often presented by English speaking authors focusing on French topics.
— France Book Tours
Bashor goes far back into Marie Antoinette’s own family and that of her future husband, Louis XVI. It’s a well-structured book, organised chronologically, starting with the reign of Louis XIII, when the small village of Versailles became tied into the world of the French monarchs, growing from an ancient windmill into a vast palace ands seat of power. I found the evolution of the place that is Versailles possibly more intriguing than the lives of those who lived there. Bashor’s observation that the Versailles visited by tourists in more recent years . . . is something of a fantasy; read Chapter 13 to realise the pungent reality of life at this court, with chamber pots being emptied out of windows, and nobles relieving themselves in corridors.
— The Victorian Librarian
An intimate portrait of the scandals plaguing the genealogy of Marie Antoinette and a genuine effort to assess her psychology, this fascinating book also reveals private moments with her inner circle as well as the machinations of her enemies. A vastly entertaining read as well as an excellent assessment of the living conditions of the Queen at Versailles, where rumors and stench spread as easily as love intrigues and syphilis.
— Servanne Woodward, Western University Canada
A brilliant, and sad, history of the French monarchy and its descent into hell. Reality, gossip, and myths about the last royalty of France meld into a fascinating account by a true connoisseur.
— Jean-Clément Martin, l’Université Paris, Panthéon-Sorbonne
Insightful and illuminating, Bashor’s book takes its readers on a thrilling tour behind the firmly closed bedroom doors and decorative screens of Versailles, where we eavesdrop on the gossip, read the secret messages behind the fans, and witness a world filled with pleasure, ruled by etiquette and dominated by sexual intrigue.
— Josephine Wilkinson, author of Louis XIV: The Power and the Glory
A bold, evocative, and compelling portrait of Marie Antoinette, unlike any that have come before. Will Bashor confidently takes the reader on a well-researched, passionately written, historical piece that reveals fascinating, hard-to-deny insights into her intimate life. Readers will forever see Marie Antoinette in a whole new light.
— Elissa Shaw, author of the blog Chasing French History
Already an established authority on the intimate life of Queen Marie Antoinette, Will Bashor goes a step further in placing her experience within the wider context of court society at Versailles stretching back through an emotional genealogy into the previous century. The result is a saucy re-telling of a tumultuous life in splendid detail.
— Jonathan Spangler, Manchester Metropolitan University
Will Bashor’s latest book about Queen Marie Antoinette masterfully intertwines the intimate details of the Queen’s life at Versailles with a broad panoply of the debauchery that characterized the French monarchy from the reign of Louis XIII to the outbreak of the French Revolution.
— Leland Conley Barrows, Voorhees College
Based on period memoirs and letters, respected biographies, and scurrilous eighteenth-century pamphlets, Will Bashor’s new work on Marie Antoinette looks behind the closed doors, underneath the gold and diamond-encrusted gowns, and into the boudoirs of Versailles and elsewhere. This is no excursion for the faint of heart, and Bashor bares it all, from the various positions in which Marie Antoinette found herself to further speculations about what the century’s long ‘den of iniquity’ had been spreading. He weaves a narrative of intrigue, debauchery, licentiousness, and jealousies into historical non-fiction. His new work makes Les Liaisons dangereuses (1782) seem boring and tame.
— Susan Conner, Albion College