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Marie-Therese, Child of Terror: The Fate of Marie Antoinette's Daughter Hardcover – March 18, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
What was the fate of Marie-Thérèse (1778–1851) after the beheadings of her parents, King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette of France? Nagel, professor of humanities at Marymount Manhattan College (Mistress of the Elgin Marbles), relates the dramatic highs and lows experienced by the woman known as Madame Royale. Her uncle, the Austrian emperor, wanted her to marry his brother, when she escaped from the Temple Prison at age 17 after three hellish years. Instead, she endured a loveless and childless marriage to her Bourbon cousin the Duc d'Angoulême, but became the close political ally of their uncle, Louis XVIII, whom she joined in his peripatetic exile and saw in his triumphant return to France in 1814 as king. Marie Thérèse survived the 1830 abdication of her father-in-law, Charles X, and died in exile. Known for her kindness and wit, she also endured persistent rumors that she was not the real Marie-Thérèse and the constant threat of abduction and assassination. Nagel's highly detailed and sympathetic account competently fills in historical gaps, but, unfortunately, is hampered by plodding prose. 16 pages of color illus; map. (Apr.)
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*Starred Review* Most people who know about the sad end of Queen Marie Antoinette of France also know that she left behind a daugher and a son. The boy died as a result of appalling abuse at the hands of prison guards, but what became of the girl? Born in 1778, Marie-Thérèse was just 17 when her release from three harrowing years of imprisonment was finally negotiated. Almost immediately, she became a powerful symbol and a political pawn. But Nagel shows her as having a mind of her own as she found refuge at the Austrian court; then she married her cousin and became part of the peripatetic French monarchy-in-exile. Finally, she helped to preside over the Restoration. Through it all she was an object of fascination, admired for her dignity and her steadfast devotion to the ideals of the ancien régime. The fascination persists even today in the legend of the Dark Countess, according to which the princess switched identities, and the woman the world knew as Marie-Thérèse was an imposter. This highly detailed, exhaustively researched, often-riveting account will appeal especially to all those readers who’ve immersed themselves in the many recent books about Marie Antoinette. --Mary Ellen Quinn
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Two mysteries remain for me. Why was Marie-Therese alone of her immediate family allowed to live? And why no mention of any pursuit by others of the mystery of the Dark Countess -- Marie-Therese's half-sister, Ernestine?