With the published memoirs of Marie Antoinette’s hairdresser, Léonard Autié, as his starting point, historian Will Bashor takes readers inside the court of Louis XVI and the aristocracy of 18th century France. The story-like accounts of daily life, behind-the-scenes finagling and ill-advised decisions gains credibility and value from Bashor’s meticulous documentation and cross checking of historical accounts of this period. Also helpful are frank disclosures of memoir accounts that could not be verified but that are plausible elements in the story.
An accomplished social climber, Léonard as protagonist offers insights into the character of life in the broader social milieu as well as within the court‘s inner rooms. His affectionate loyalty to Marie Antoinette and attention to her emotional state as well as to her elaborate hairstyles are balanced throughout the book by his awareness of the world as it changed around her. The seeds of revolution are woven expertly throughout the work, even as the reader develops sympathy for the young and often unaware Marie Antoinette. Overall, this nonfiction book is an engaging account of a pivotal moment in French history told from a fresh and revealing perspective.