Marie Antoinette’s Darkest Days:
Prisoner No. 280 in the Conciergerie
(history – nonfiction)
Release date: December 1, 2016
at Rowman & Littlefield
Website | Goodreads
This compelling book begins on the 2nd of August 1793, the day Marie Antoinette was torn from her family’s arms and escorted from the Temple to the Conciergerie, a thick-walled fortress turned prison. It was also known as the waiting room for the guillotine because prisoners only spent a day or two here before their conviction and subsequent execution. The ex-queen surely knew her days were numbered, but she could never have known that two and a half months would pass before she would finally stand trial and be convicted of the most ungodly charges.
Will Bashor traces the final days of the prisoner registered only as Widow Capet, No. 280, a time that was a cruel mixture of grandeur, humiliation, and terror. Marie Antoinette’s reign amidst the splendors of the court of Versailles is a familiar story, but her final imprisonment in a fetid, dank dungeon is a little-known coda to a once-charmed life. Her seventy-six days in this terrifying prison can only be described as the darkest and most horrific of the fallen queen’s life, vividly recaptured in this richly researched history.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
earned his M.A. degree in French literature
from Ohio University
and his Ph.D. in International Studies
from the American Graduate School in Paris
where he gathered letters, newspapers, and journals
during his research for the award-winning
Marie Antoinette’s Head: The Royal Hairdresser, the Queen, and the Revolution.
Now living in Albi, France,
and a member of the Society for French Historical Studies,
his latest work, Marie Antoinette’s Darkest Days: Prisoner No. 280 in the Conciergerie,
was released in December 2016.
He is currently working on the final part of his historical trilogy,
Marie Antoinette’s World: The Labyrinth to the Queen’s Psyche.
Visit him on his website
and here are many ways to follow him:
VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR QUOTATIONS
Bashor’s clearly stated objective is to be nonjudgmental, but his moving account of the facts of the former queen’s 76 days in the Conciergerie, along with the extracts from her interrogations and trial, cannot help but draw the reader in, exciting compassion for the “Widow Capet” and her unfortunate children.
This book is a fine achievement indeed, enhanced with a large number of period illustrations, many of them original lithographs from La dernière année de Marie-Antoinette published in 1907. Marie Antoinette’s time in the Conciergerie, her interrogations and trial, her last hours, the way she went to the guillotine, and the story of her final resting place all make for indispensable reading for anyone curious about the true end of this remarkably controversial woman, who has left an indelible stamp on the history of France.
I was riveted by this book from start to tragic finish.
The book reads, I think, more like a novel rather than a history book, in that while the authors shares a tremendous amount of painstaking research with us, we’re never overwhelmed and the pace is crisp.
If you’re interested in French history then this without doubt is the book for you. It is completely absorbing and absolutely fascinating.
In Marie Antoinette’s Darkest Days, Bashor’s aim is to document Marie-Antoinette’s last days of imprisonment in the fairest way, helping readers find sense between numerous conflicting accounts, without taking part. He does it brilliantly and I thoroughly enjoyed this book, as much as I did the previous one by the author on Marie-Antoinette and her hairdresser: Marie-Antoinette’s Head.
Scholarly analysis and lively narrative combine here to provide us with a magnificent presentation of Marie-Antoinette’s last days. For all history buffs.
Though I’d known the basics about her imprisonment and execution, Bashor’s book brought to life in great detail the hellish, difficult days and nights that she endured in prison.
I definitely recommend this book to those interested in this period of French history, whether from the side of the royals or the rebels.
Svetlana’s reads and views
After reading this book, I finally understand… why so many people were inspired to help her and her family during the darkest days. Granted the glitter and glamour are far more attractive to readers, but the real self, I believe, emerges in the darkest of times, which is what the author has shown in the book through research and storytelling.
What I found especially interesting was his research into the backgrounds of all members of the jury, who convicted her and the trial transcripts themselves.
This book is a must have for those interested in the French Royal family and the Revolution.
The author has made a great job at providing a detailed but impartial description of the last days of Marie Antoinette.
This book is perfect for those who love history and French history in particular.