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The Lost King of France: Revolution, Revenge and the Search for Louis XVII [Abridged, Audiobook] [Audio Cassette]

Deborah Cadbury , Hannah Gordon
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Book Description

21 Oct 2002
A true story of royalty, revolution and mystery - the detective story of the brief life and many possible deaths of Louis XVII, the son of Marie Antoinette. Louis-Charles Bourbon enjoyed a charmed early childhood in the gilded palace of Versailles. At the age of four, he became the Dauphin, heir to the most powerful throne in Europe. Yet within five years, he was to lose everything. Drawn into the horror of the French Revolution, his family was incarcerated and their fate thrust into the hands of the revolutionaries who wished to destroy the monarchy. In 1793, when his mother was beheaded at the guillotine, she left her adored eight-year-old son imprisoned in the Temple Tower. Far from inheriting a throne, the orphaned boy-King had to endure the hostility and abuse of a nation. Two years later, the Revolutionary leaders declared Louis XVII was dead. No grave was dug, no monument built to mark his passing. Immediately, rumours spread that the Prince had, in fact, escaped from prison and was still alive. Others believed that he had been murdered, his heart cut out and preserved as a relic. In time, his older sister, Marie-Therese, who survived the Revolution, was approached by countless "brothers" who claimed not only his name, but also his inheritance. Several "princes" were plausible, but which, if any, was the real Louis-Charles? This work interweaves a pivotal moment in France's history with a compelling detective story involving pretenders to the crown, royalist plots and bizarre legal battles. The quest for the truth finally runs to the present day. Using modern DNA testing, the strange odyssey of a stolen heart found within the royal tombs was to lead to an exciting conclusion to the 200-year-old mystery of the lost King of France.

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Product details

  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Abridged edition edition (21 Oct 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007156731
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007156733
  • Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 10.8 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,399,936 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Even casual French history readers will notice a discrepancy in the numbering of their kings--Louis XVI goes to the guillotine in the French Revolution; Louis XVIII returns after the defeat of Napoleon. What happened to Louis XVII? That's the subject of Deborah Cadbury's The Lost King of France. Louis-Charles, heir to Louis XVI, automatically became king, in the eyes of French royalists, when his father was guillotined in 1793. He was, however, an eight-year-old boy and at the mercy of the Revolutionary government. Cadbury's vivid and sympathetic account of his imprisonment and the appallingly abusive treatment he received makes for painful reading.

In 1795 the boy king died, still in prison. Or did he? For decades afterward pretender after pretender to the throne appeared, claiming that he was the real Louis. He had been rescued and a substitute child had died in the hands of the revolutionaries. Some claimants were ludicrous. (One was a mixed-race Native American from New York.) Others were so convincing that their descendants still have supporters today. "Karl Wilhelm Naundorff" persisted with his claim to his deathbed and beyond. His gravestone boldly states that he was the son of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette.

In the second half of her book, Cadbury turns from the sad narrative of Louis the Seventeenth's apparently short life to the mystery of his claimed survival. Finally her book becomes a scientific detective story as the tools of modern DNA testing are used to pinpoint the identity of the boy who died in prison and to investigate the genetic make-up of Naundorff. As both the story of a tragic and short life and a record of how science solved one of the greatest puzzles in French history, The Lost King of France works brilliantly. --Nick Rennison --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

‘Outstanding…In providing such a vivid biography of Louis Charles’s life, the author has set a fine standard of scholarship. The action races forward with sumptuously judged pace equal to that of any top rate thriller.’ George Lucas, Financial Times

‘Beautifully structured and sympathetically narrated, Cadbury’s book benefits from having a subject that successfully brings together science, suspense and sentiment. Something for everyone, then.’ Miranda Seymour, Sunday Times

‘This tale reads like a Gothic novel of gloomy castles, dark deeds and false claimants and a cliffhanger ending with science as an added bounus. Gripping from start to finish.’ New Scientist

‘This is history as it should be. It is stunningly written, I could not put it down. This is the best account of the French Revolution I have ever read.’ Alison Weir, author of ‘Henry VIII, King and Court’

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Book 13 Jun 2009
Format:Hardcover
This book (like everything by D.C.) is a brilliant piece of writing, wonderfully written and thoroughly researched.
Being very interested in the French Revolution for many years I was intrigued by the title of the book and had to buy it, hoping to find some new facts, but actually was totally captivated by the story and the superb writing.
The first half of the book tells us a tragic and controversial story of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette before the Revolution. The second half is about the French Revolution and what happened to the King's family during this time. The central enquiry of the book is what happened to the child Louis XVII after he was imprisoned in the Temple following the French Revolution. It finishes with the long awaited result of how the young prince died, when through the use of modern genetics a conclusion is reached, which puts to an end two centuries of speculations about the royal line (which are profoundly investigated by the author in this book as well).
The book touched me deeply, often brining tears to my eyes. Though it is a well-research historical work, but it is written in such sympathetic manner that the tragedy and horrors that the little Louise-Charles, Marie Antoinette, Marie-Therese and Louis XVI were subjected to are absolutely heart-breaking. Even when I wasn't reading the book, I couldn't stop thinking about their suffering and terrible destiny.
The book as a whole is an absolute page-turner, which is unusual for this type of a book, but makes it even more worthwhile.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly scintillating and magnificently written 18 Mar 2003
Format:Audio Cassette
A masterpiece in every sense of the word, the author manages to hook you from the first page and you'll find it well nigh impossible to put down. This book reads like a thriller and Deborah Cadbury somehow manages to interweave historical facts with such suspense and masterful anticipation that I guarantee you'll be bleary eyed the next day. Without any hesitation whatsoever I would recommend this book to not only those who have an interest in history but to anyone that enjoys reading in general. Bravo Deborah for such a remarkably sad but thrilling book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cannot be praised highly enough 10 July 2003
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Deborah Cadbury's book simply cannot receive enough praise. It is easily one of the best books I have ever read, and I have been an avid reader since childhood - devouring Massie's biography of Nicholas II at the age of nine.
This book is totally compelling and I had it finished in just over one day. The sympathetic appraisal of the royal family's standing and the authors ability to add a humanising touch to all the historical personalities mentioned is breathtaking. What is particularly pleasing is the way in which "lesser" women of the royal family have their stories told as well - particularly Louis XVII's aunt, Elisabeth, and his sister, Marie Thèrèse.
The author cleverly links the life and legend of Louis XVII from his childhood at Versailles to the 21st-century tests to ascertain the truth of his death. Cadbury's finest narration comes from her harrowing descriptions of the royal family's imprisonment after the revolution and of the heartbreaking abuse inflicted upon Marie-Antoinette's son, Louis-Charles, better known to history as Louis XVII.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant 8 April 2013
Format:Paperback
A superbly researched and masterly written book, I would recommend it to anyone who has even the mildest
interest in history. It isn't just an historical book but a modern piece of detective work too, that kept
me hanging on in suspense to the very last page. Hugely evocative of the period, it conveys an understanding
of the people of the time and the harrowing experiences they must have endured that you won't find in any
old dry history book. Everyone knows of the princes in the tower but few have even heard of Louis
charles capet and his tragic story but they should do so. Read this and you won't ever forget his story
or the fate of those around him. It certainly made me look at the victims of this revolution in a completely different
light.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Story, Well Worth Reading 11 Oct 2011
Format:Hardcover
This book provides the reader with a well-told and well-researched story of the son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, the French Revolution and the use of DNA to solve a 200-year mystery. I found it to be a moving account and a well told piece of history which was very enjoyable to read, so much so that I couldn't wait to get to the end of the book to find out did the DNA prove or disprove the story in the book of the tragic end of a little boy caught up in the Terror.

The author's use of first-hand accounts throughout the book forcibly reminds us that the Terror was known as such for a reason. When citizens marched on the Tuileries:

"As people fled from the palace, anyone who had defended the king - or was even dressed like a noble - was mercilessly hunted down. One woman reported glimpsing through the blinds of a house 'three sans-culottes holding a tall handsome man by the collar'. When they had 'finished him off with the butt of a rifle', at least 'fifteen women, one after the other, climbed up on this victim's cadaver, whose entrails were emerging from all sides, saying they took pleasure in trampling the aristocracy under their feet'. During the day, over nine hundred guards and three hundred citizens became victims of the hysterical slaughter."

And again when describing what happened to Princesse de Lamballe:

"Dragged from her cell and hauled before a kangaroo court, when she refused to swear an oath against the queen she had been sentenced to death. There are differing accounts of her horrendous murder. According to some, she was raped before she was hacked to death, and then mutilated, with her genitalia and heart cut out and mounted on pikes. In other versions she was - mercifully - knocked unconscious before her death.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievably sad.
After reading Antonia Frasers 'Marie Antoinette' and Susan Nagels 'Marie Thérèse' I knew I had to read this book. Read more
Published 10 months ago by T. J. Thomas
5.0 out of 5 stars History comes alive
When we were taught history at school, we were told that no-one really knew what happened to the Dauphin and that the dead boy in the Temple prison may not have been he but a... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Margaret Pell
5.0 out of 5 stars Impossible not to cry!
Deborah Cadbury's book is incredible! I found it quite difficult to read the unbelievable amount of abuse and neglect this boy suffered. Read more
Published 22 months ago by R Helen
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, exciting, sad
This book is very well written. It is hard to put it down, it is so exciting, but also sad. The cruelty towards the Dauphin, Louis XVII, is unbelievable. Read more
Published on 18 Sep 2011 by Nadja Animal lover
5.0 out of 5 stars Spine chilling and fascinating story
This is a very haunting and compelling story. Ms Cadbury is an absolute master of the macabre. The book seems to relish in what most ordinary folk fear to even imagine. Read more
Published on 26 Mar 2011 by thepilsburydoeby
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning and earth-shattering
This book is excellent. Don't listen to comments about the author not being impartial. I challenge anyone to read this and not feel outrage at what happened to this boy. Read more
Published on 8 Jun 2010 by Robert James
2.0 out of 5 stars Over-rated
Deborah Cadbury writes on a wide range of subjects, which may be admirable in itself but is not necessarily a sound basis on which to write a book about that most complex and... Read more
Published on 29 Dec 2007 by Devon Girl
5.0 out of 5 stars A true French History of the little forgotten King of France
My French history teacher first introduced me to this book in 2002 when it was first released. However it wasn't until recently when I really decied to get involved and discover... Read more
Published on 19 Mar 2007 by Elizabeth D'Souza
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best and most disturbing books I've ever read.
This book is a truly superbly written historical biography. When I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. Read more
Published on 14 May 2006 by Mr. David Rayner
5.0 out of 5 stars A magnificently told, true and tragic story
A masterpiece in every sense of the word, the author manages to hook you from the first page and you'll find it well nigh impossible to put down. Read more
Published on 22 Feb 2006 by Mr. K. Papas
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