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.
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.
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The Queen's Lover
An easy read, thoroughly engrossing. Has the feel of historical accuracy throughout in time and place. A must read for lovers of Swedish and French history.