Books: Beautiful & Doomed

QUEEN OF FRANCE (434 pp.)—Andre Castelot—Harper ($5).

Marie Antoinette is one of the most written-about women in history—and for the best writing reasons. Her story combines two unfailing narrative ingredients: a fairy tale flashing with all the diamond glint of palaces and courtiers, a horror story of human cruelty and blood. The combination is so compelling that the life of the lovely Austrian princess who lived an infuriatingly frivolous life and died an endearingly brave death can be told and retold with remarkably little attention to the social upheaval that doomed her.

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