The Queen's Lover: A Novel

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Overview

A “spellbinding” and “deeply intelligent” historical novel about Marie Antoinette on the eve of the French Revolution (The Washington Post )

Through the untold love story between Marie Antoinette and Swedish aristocrat Axel von Fersen, acclaimed author Francine du Plessix Gray weaves history with romance in a captivating novel that also offers a fresh vision of the French Revolution.

Paris, 1774. The dashing nobleman meets nineteen-year-old ...

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The Queen's Lover: A Novel

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Overview

A “spellbinding” and “deeply intelligent” historical novel about Marie Antoinette on the eve of the French Revolution (The Washington Post )

Through the untold love story between Marie Antoinette and Swedish aristocrat Axel von Fersen, acclaimed author Francine du Plessix Gray weaves history with romance in a captivating novel that also offers a fresh vision of the French Revolution.

Paris, 1774. The dashing nobleman meets nineteen-year-old Marie Antoinette at a masquerade ball. As their relationship deepens at Versailles, Fersen discovers the court’s secrets, even the startling erotic details of Marie Antoinette’s marriage. But this intimacy is disrupted when he leaves to join the American Revolution. When he returns in 1783, he finds France on the brink of disintegration. After the Revolution of 1789, the royal family is moved to the Tuileries and suffers increasingly harsh captivity. After a failed attempt to liberate them, Fersen goes home to Sweden where he soon meets his own tragic end: his fate is symbolic of the violent pace with which of the eighteenth century’s events transformed European culture.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Du Plessix Gray, who was a finalist for a Pulitzer for 1998’s At Home with the Marquis de Sade: A Life, delivers a French Revolution–era tale of love, treachery, and death, reminiscent of Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther. This well-researched historical follows Count Axel von Fersen, a Swedish nobleman, as he meets a young Marie Antoinette, falls in love, is swept away to war in America, and returns to the Continent to discover the patrician world he once knew—and those he loved within it—facing imminent ruin. Structured as the memoirs of the late von Fersen, as compiled (with occasional supplementary chapters) by his sister Sophie, the drama of the story is mediated (and slightly diminished) by the form. However, the emotional tumult of the count’s strained affair with Marie Antoinette, as well as the cultural unrest in America, Sweden, and France, are nevertheless bold and moving. Fans of history—both true and fictional—will revel in du Plessix Gray’s vivid evocation of turbulent times, though readers accustomed to in-the-moment action may lament the narrative remove of the faux memoir. Agent: Lynn Nesbit, Janklow & Nesbit. (June 18)
Library Journal
With her golden hair, luminous skin, and blue eyes, 19-year-old Dauphine Marie Antoinette captivates Swedish aristocrat Count Axel von Fersen at their first meeting, a masquerade ball at the Paris Opera in 1774. This encounter begins a passionate affair between the Swedish nobleman and the wife of the reclusive prince and soon-to-be king of France, Louis XVI. In this lustrous historical novel, Gray (Lovers and Tyrants) combines authentic communications with von Fersen's own incomplete memoir and the memories of von Fersen's adored sister, Sophie. The author has expertly re-created the world of the French royal family, depicting them in print as they once existed in life: lighthearted, calculating, and complex. VERDICT Gray's subtle treatment of her characters allows them to come alive in this creative account of the French royal family and the French Revolution. Essential for fans of historical novels and Gray's other works. [See Prepub Alert, 12/5/11.]—Lisa Block, Emory Univ., Atlanta
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143123569
  • Publisher: Viking Penguin
  • Publication date: 5/28/2013
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 401,072
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Francine du Plessix Gray is the author of numerous books of fiction and nonfiction, including Them: A Memoir of Parents, and has been a regular contributor to the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books. She lives in Connecticut.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 11, 2014

    I loved this book. I was actually sad when I finished it. Such d

    I loved this book. I was actually sad when I finished it. Such detail of the time period. And the story is written such that it holds the reader's attention. I couldn't put it down. 

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