by Francine du Plessix Gray
The Penguin Press
Pub. Date: June 14, 2012
Book received from: Publisher via TLC Book Tours
The idea of Marie Antoinette is one of legend. Her grace. Her beauty. Her charm. There have been many stories told of the young queen- some of truth, some of misquoting. However, what every story told has in common is the inability to deny that she commanded a room in a quiet, powerful way with not just her beauty, but her charisma as well. She is the queen for which men found themselves speechless in her presence, and, because of this, she is the queen of which stories of scandal have surrounded her.
In The Queen’s Lover, we are given a glimpse of the most personal and private life of the queen, as told from the perspective of Count Axel von Fersen, a Swedish nobleman with who she shared a lifelong secretive romance. Using letters and recorded facts to weave together a story that tells us so much more about Marie Antoinette than most accounts, du Plessix Gray is a master at her craft. The characters are full and very real, and there is an understanding and clarity behind the actions and events that have made up many of the stories behind the epic figures of the time. This is not just a story of a man’s love for a woman who can never be fully his own, but a story of intrigue, back-stabbing, gossip, war, and how one must traverse it all.
Du Plessix Gray manages to give new depth and life to many of the historical figures who played key roles in the political climate of the time, especially Marie Antoinette. While the writing is often a bit dry, there is so much information that is packed into The Queen’s Lover that it is difficult to put down. If you are looking for the temperament of historical fiction delivered by the likes of Philippa Gregory, this is not in the same character-driven genre. However, the amount of understanding and knowledge that is gained in its reading is difficult to match.
The Queen’s Lover is historical fiction that reads like non-fiction, due to the interjection of letters and the clear command du Plessix Gray has of her topic. While I was expecting a story with a much smoother flow, once I started reading, I knew I had to finish it. In the end, I found myself liking this depiction of the legendary queen much more than some others, as it was difficult not to be sympathetic to what she was dealt at times. This is a must read for the history buff, the historical fiction lover, and for those looking for intriguing love story that might just break your heart.
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This book can be purchased at Amazon.com, as well as your local independent bookseller.