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Farewell, My Queen: A Novel Hardcover – May 17, 2003
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As revolution rages outside the palace walls, inside the court of Versailles--the court of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI--denial reigns before giving way to alarm, which in turn degenerates into panic and chaos. Thomas spins the familiar events of the 1789 French Revolution into a compelling novel, with the central character less the famously ill-fated queen than the insular and ritualized society of the palace. The story is told by a woman looking back 30 years, to when it was her job to read books aloud to Marie Antoinette. Her status as courtier makes her the best kind of narrator--at once an insider and an observer of the royals. She describes the final days before revolution engulfs the palace with insight and surprising slices of humor. Some passages read almost like satire, as the indulged inhabitants of Versailles cling to the privileges that have defined their now-threatened lives--royals are reluctant to leave the palace without proper traveling attire, courtiers try to flee while lugging heavy possessions. Thomas' formidable skills as a researcher give the book authenticity, and her keen eye for human behavior and talent for storytelling make it sing. Karen Holt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
[S]ober, captivating, moving, and, at the end, poignant... -- Téléz
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FYI there isn't a lesbian undertone to this story since the Film maker wanted to add that in to make it more spicy for viewers - this is the novel, so think more structure and notes with color commentary, less movie sensation style oohs and Ahhhhs.
This story is more gentle and historically reflective of what it could have felt to a person to live and work in service during the last days of Versailles glory. someone who is smart enough to know their place but just as caught up in the confusion in these days
I really enjoyed reading about a character who thinks, and still feels the environment of the chaos and desperate attempts to place sense and order amid the end of the french monarchy.
Was a good read, (don't need to keep it in my book case for decades, but at least 1 or 2 readings)
The author gives us a different yet gentle style of writing, both reflectively poetic and historical enough to enjoy the theme and finish - like a taste of wine that lingers after you already swallowed the last drop.
The novel is seen through the eyes of a young woman in the court, one who reads to the queen. The reader's daily life gives us an insight into the rituals and rules and ridiculous red tape that comes with any entrenched bureaucracy: the waste of time, tax-payers' money, and continual reinforcment of a system bordering on petrification. What brings this system to life though are the warnings of its possible death. The only problem is that those living in the grandeur of Versaille don't want to believe what they hear. Yet, their insticts know better. Some listen and flee; others remain to face the consequences. Still outsiders from the aristocracy seek refuge at Versaille and tell those leaving how dangerous the roads are for the rich. Confusion reigneth.
The character of the queen's reader, star struck by Marie Antoinette, is the perfect reporter because she has no other interest than pleasing the queen. The queen and her dearest friend Gabrielle may or may not be tribades, as is hinted at in the novel. In fact, the queen needs a friend and most likely that's what Gabrielle is. Marie Antoinette, having lost her oldest child and her revered mother, throws herself into fashion. The king, believing the people love him and that he's overcome political problems before, consoles himself with the weather--the daily temperature to be exact. They've holed themselves up in the country, recreated it into an early Disneyland, but without the Fibreeze since it reeks of sewer smells.
We the reader are placed in the position of the queen's reader and cringe at her piecemeal information and early denial of it. Yet, despite our knowing of the awaiting guillotine for the royals, we're not quite sure what we would do in that palace: run for our lives, hope for negotiations, or simply choke on our cake.