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The Queen's Lover: A Novel
     

The Queen's Lover: A Novel

3.0 2
by Francine du Plessix Gray
 

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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

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.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
If you liked Antonia Fraser’s Marie Antoinette or Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall — if you admired Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s close lens in The General in His Labyrinth — you will be richly rewarded by du Plessix Gray’s amalgam of history and drama. Read it for its insights on Versailles; read it for its eye-opening glimpses into an equally venal Stockholm. But read it, when all is said and done, for its heartbreakingly wistful romance."—Marie Arana, The Washington Post

“The voice of history rises up out of the pages of [this] persuasive new novel. [A] lively, incredibly readable, definitely R-rated version of the life and death of Marie Antoinette.” – Alan Cheuse, NPR

“Ms. Gray has created fully developed, flawed and complex characters in a way that would probably not have been possible within the confines of biography.  [She] conjures up a world she knows well, in riveting detail. [The Queen’s Lover is] a feat of research and imagination.”—Moira Hodgson, The Wall Street Journal

“Don’t remember anything about the French Revolution from high school? This is one of those books where you’ll learn – or relearn – history effortlessly, as du Plessix Gray spins the affair of Marie Antoinette and a Swedish count into riveting drama.” – Entertainment Weekly

“[A] triumph of scholarship and storytelling... a remarkable book.”Daily Beast

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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780143123569
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/28/2013
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
886,948
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are Saying About This

Edmund White
The Queen's Lover is a thrilling book. It has everything—suspense, intrigue, love, luxury, tragedy and romantic and familial love. It tells a familiar story from a new point of view. (Edmund White, author of A Boy's Own Story)
Caroline Weber
In The Queen's Lover, Francine du Plessix Gray brings her peerless narrative gifts to bear on one of history's all-time greatest love stories: the secret romance between Marie-Antoinette and Count Axel von Fersen. Set against the backdrop of the French monarchy's cataclysmic fall, the affair between the doomed queen and the dashing Swede is at once an achingly tender tale of two lovers and a tragic story of unspeakably brutal, broad-based societal change. With a historian's eye for evocative contextual detail and a novelist's ear for the lyricism of 'le grand amour,' Gray weaves an unforgettable portrait of a couple whose lives were transfigured by love...and shattered by revolution. (Caroline Weber, author of Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution)
From the Publisher
If you liked Antonia Fraser’s Marie Antoinette or Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall — if you admired Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s close lens in The General in His Labyrinth — you will be richly rewarded by du Plessix Gray’s amalgam of history and drama. Read it for its insights on Versailles; read it for its eye-opening glimpses into an equally venal Stockholm. But read it, when all is said and done, for its heartbreakingly wistful romance."—Marie Arana, The Washington Post

“The voice of history rises up out of the pages of [this] persuasive new novel. [A] lively, incredibly readable, definitely R-rated version of the life and death of Marie Antoinette.” – Alan Cheuse, NPR

“Ms. Gray has created fully developed, flawed and complex characters in a way that would probably not have been possible within the confines of biography. [She] conjures up a world she knows well, in riveting detail. [The Queen’s Lover is] a feat of research and imagination.”—Moira Hodgson, The Wall Street Journal

“Don’t remember anything about the French Revolution from high school? This is one of those books where you’ll learn – or relearn – history effortlessly, as du Plessix Gray spins the affair of Marie Antoinette and a Swedish count into riveting drama.” – Entertainment Weekly

“[A] triumph of scholarship and storytelling... a remarkable book.”Daily Beast

Adam Gopnik
The story of the strange, then sad, then finally tragic life of Marie Antoinette has been told many times, but never with more humane feeling and historical point than Francine Du Plessix Gray does in her new historical novel. Seen from the startling point of view of the Queen's Swedish lover, Count Axel Von Fersen, The Queen's Lover makes a familiar story newly poignant, and, without ever being pedantic, places that story in a broader context of European politics, too often missed. (Adam Gopnik, author of Paris to the Moon)

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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The Queen's Lover 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is a mystery to me why this obviously talented writer chose as her main character Count Felsen, Marie Antoinett'es, lover, to describe the events surrounding the French Revolution. Surely he is one of the most unsympathetic, self-absorbed, selfish and arrogant individuals in history. In fact, all of the main characters in this book are superficial and one-dimensional if not downright silly. Perhaps the author's intent was to illuminate the mystifying indifference of the ruling classes to the suffering of their people and the shock and surprise they experienced when these "rabble" dared to protest their circumstances. However, the complete indifference of Felsen and his royal cronies to human suffering, as well as the main character's loathsome personal life, do nothing but make the reader completely indifferent to their fate or, perhaps, rooting for their gruesome end. The novel does not instruct, disturb or questions old views, or add to the understanding of the events or even entertain. A reader interested in the subject of the French revolution is much better served by Hilary Mantel's brilliant "A Place of Greater Safety," whose characters are not necessarily more sympathetic but at least more complex and accessible. I didn't really expect high literary merit from a book about a royal's lover, but I thought it would be fun. Instead, this book was sheer drudgery.
JewelPrincess More than 1 year ago
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.