Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Book Review: The Queen's Lover

'The Queen's Lover'
Author: Francine Du Plessix Gray

Format: ARC
Published: Penguin Press; June 2012
Pages: 304
Genre: Historical fiction
Grade: B
Source: TLC Book Tours

Synopsis: The Queen’s Lover begins at a masquerade ball in Paris in 1774, when the dashing Swedish nobleman Count Axel Von Fersen first meets the mesmerizing nineteen-year old Dauphine Marie Antoinette, wife of the shy, reclusive prince who will soon become Louis XVI. This electric encounter launches a life-long romance that will span the course of the French Revolution.
            The affair begins in friendship, however, and Fersen quickly becomes a devoted companion to the entire royal family. As he roams through the halls of Versailles and visits the private haven of Petit Trianon, Fersen discovers the deepest secrets of the court, even learning about the startling erotic details of Marie-Antoinette’s marriage to Louis XVI. But the events of the American Revolution tear Fersen away. Moved by the colonists’ fight for freedom, he is one of the very first to enlist in the French contingent of troops that will fight for America’s independence.
Scion of Sweden’s most esteemed nobility, Fersen came to be seen as an enemy of the homeland he loved. His fate is symbolic of the violent speed with which the events of the 18th century transformed European culture. Expertly researched and deeply imagined, The Queen’s Lover offers a fresh vision of of the French Revolution and of the French royal family, as told through the love story that was at its center.

My Take: I significantly shortened the synopsis up there because this is another case of the entire book being summarized on the back of the book. What is up publishers with giving away the milk for free on the back of the book?! If I can read the whole book in a couple of paragraphs, I am going to get kinda bored halfway through when I know what's going to keep happening. I don't know, I just think it's kind of weird.

So, I'll try to write my version of the book without giving away things so that you hopefully want to read what was a fairly entertaining book of the French Revolution! This fictional novel is told as if it were the memoirs of one of the powerhouses of Sweden's aristocracy during the French Revolution. It was an interesting way to tell the tale. Axel Fersen's memoirs were 'published post humously' with the help of his beloved sister Sophie who added in her own thoughts to every other chapter. The memoirs start in 1774 when Fersen is still a young and impressionable nobleman visiting France from Sweden trying to make his way in the this new world of the Royal Courts. He meets an intriguing young queen by the name of Marie Antoinette and they spark up a quick conversation that will forever change their lives.

The novel/faux memoir takes place over the course of many years and covers both the French and American Revolution as well as many other historic European events that I didn't even know about. It gives an intimate look at the royal courts of the time that I found utterly fascinating and sometimes very disturbing! What I really enjoyed about the novel was Fersen's cheeky humour and showing us this intimate look at high society that I really haven't seen before. What I didn't enjoy as much was the fact that it often read much more like a historical book and not a novel compared to most books I read. Many chapters were dedicated to pure events and not people that it became very dull. Cut that out, and the meat of the story was fascinating. For pure history buffs who would like something a little lighter, this book would probably be perfect for them!

For other opinions on this book, please check out the full TLC Tour here!

Cover Lust: I like the simplicity of it with just a few overturned fancy chairs to show some destruction at the Royal Courts.


  1. Giving away all the inforamtion on the back of the book is not good...It's like putting all the best scenes of a movie in the trailer.

    I'm not really sure if this one will be for me. Thanks for the review!

    1. What a great way to describe giving away too much in the synopsis on the back of the book!

  2. It does sound like a good read though!

  3. Well maybe they assume people already know? I fear I do know the whole story so the blurb did not bother me

  4. I hate it when blurbs do that! I think the unique perspective of this book sounds fascinating.

  5. That is one of my big pet peeves when I'm reading a book summary! I want to get an idea of what happens, but I don't want to know every single thing. It often takes away my motivation to actually read the book haha! Still though, I'd be interested in checking this one out. I love this cover - it makes me more interested in reading the book than the summary does haha!

  6. This sounds very interesting even if it doesn't always read like a novel. Maybe I wouldn't notice because I'm not that familiar with that era.

  7. I'm glad that you enjoyed parts of it even if it didn't turn out to be a favorite for you.

    Thanks for being on the tour!

  8. HA! Cheeky humor. Love that.

    And ya know, I don't consider myself a history buff, but I do enjoy facts.

    Interesting review!

  9. I've read nothing (that I can remember) set in this time period. I majored in history in college and do enjoy a good historical fiction read now and then so this might be a good one to give a try.

  10. I'm so on the fence about this one.. should I or shouldn't I...


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