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The Queen's Lover: A Novel Hardcover – June 14, 2012

3.1 out of 5 stars 67 customer reviews

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How History Savvy Are You?
Brush up on your knowledge of Marie Antoinette’s royal court and the history that inspired The Queen’s Lover in this Amazon exclusive quiz.

Where was Marie Antoinette born?

  1. Austria
  2. Russia
  3. France
  4. Hungary

What was Axel von Fersen’s nickname?

  1. Axel
  2. Fersen
  3. Le Comte Suedois
  4. Le beau Fersen

What is the name of Fersen’s sister, and co-narrator of The Queen’s Lover?

  1. Sophie
  2. Eleanor
  3. Marguerite
  4. Sophia Magdalena

What was Marie Antoinette’s full name?

  1. Marie-Therese Antoinette
  2. Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna
  3. Archduchess Marie Antoinette of Austria
  4. Maria Antonia Teresa

Where did Marie Antoinette and Axel von Fersen meet?

  1. Versailles
  2. The Paris opera
  3. The Swedish court
  4. The court of Joseph II, Marie Antoinette’s brother

At what age did Marie Antoinette meet Axel von Fersen?

  1. 15
  2. 25
  3. 31
  4. 19

In which 18th century war did Fersen fight in?

  1. Russo-Turkish War
  2. American Revolution
  3. Anglo-Spanish War
  4. Russo-Persian War

Where did Marie Antoinette spend her last few weeks?

  1. La Conciergerie
  2. The Bastille
  3. The Louvre
  4. La Force Prison

Which of Marie Antoinette’s children was reputed to be fathered by Fersen?

  1. Marie Therese
  2. Louis Joseph
  3. Louis-Charles
  4. Princess Sophie

What did Marie Antoinette stipulate be included in the plans of the ill-fated flight to Varennes?

  1. Her children’s favorite snacks
  2. Her husband’s favorite book of poems
  3. Her hairdresser
  4. The family’s heirloom jewelry

Once the French Revolution started and royal mail was being intercepted, how did Marie Antoinette and Fersen communicate with each other?

  1. Secret code embedded in the text of well-known books
  2. Spoken messages delivered through special couriers
  3. Letters in invisible ink
  4. They couldn’t communicate once the revolution started

Who said “let them eat cake?”

  1. Marie Antoinette
  2. Marie-Therese
  3. Maria Theresa
  4. Joséphine de Beauharnais

How long did Marie Antoinette’s love affair with von Fersen last?

  1. Five years
  2. Ten years
  3. Fifteen years
  4. Nineteen years

Answers: 1-a; 2-d; 3-a; 4-b; 5-b; 6-d; 7-b; 8-a; 9-c; 10-c; 11-c; 12-b; 13-d


A Washington Post 2012 Notable Work of Fiction

Deeply intelligent…spellbinding… 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

“Set against the backdrop of royal opulence and revolution, du Plessix Gray’s richly detailed chronicle of love and loss provides startling insight into the complex and tragic inner life of the iconic and controversial French queen Marie Antoinette.”   
—Amanda Foreman, author of A World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War

“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 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

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 Jack Holmes and His Friend

“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 

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press; 1st edition (June 14, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594203377
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594203374
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #487,957 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Bitsy Bling Books VINE VOICE on May 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Gems: What's not to love about the French court? You know you're in for a treat whenever this part of history is the subject. The historical research and detailing is phenomenal and demonstrates the authors knowledge and care of the era. It's very well documented, precise and sticks to the basics we all know and love. Now, certain readers will appreciate this, or they may find it a bit dry. It really depends on your particular taste. Although it's listed as historical fiction, it reads more like a non-fiction or memoir style book. I tend to enjoy history that takes more liberties, but do appreciate the painstaking detailing.

Flaws: Flat. The telling is one-dimensional even though it alternates between Sophia and Fersen's perspective. I could not tell the difference in points of view or voice, which greatly frustrated me. Without the clear personality of each character coming through in the words, I simply couldn't trust or wholly invest in the report. That is what the novel felt like, a report of historical events compiled through journals and documented information. It stayed on one plane and surfed right along. All I can say is, flat. For me this topic and these characters offer way too much to allow them to become, for lack of a better word, boring. It's a shame, because I wanted to enjoy it and was sadly very disappointed.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Marie Antoinette is in need of a champion, and author Gray has come to her rescue with Axel Von Fersen a handsome Swedish nobleman who first met Marie at a masquerade ball when she was still the dauphine. Von Axel fought with the French in the American Revolution and returned to France a colonel to renew his relationship with Marie, now Queen, and her whole family.

"The Queen's Lover" is INTERESTING! I know that word sounds like a book report but the novel contains a lot of fascinating background material, such as the lack of hygiene among the French nobility (they stank) and Louis XVI's sexual performance problem which was finally rectified after 7 years of marriage, enabling the young Marie Antoinette to get pregnant.

People, any people, were allowed to wander in and out of Versailles, except in the royal apartments. They often carried their lunch, discarding scraps as they went, providing both a perpetual stink as well as free food for countless rats.(If you've visited the gorgeous Hall of Mirrors, this scenario really boggles the mind, the rats and garbage being reflected, I suppose).

There are interesting vignettes of George Washington, garnered from gossipy letters Axel sent home to his relatives in Sweden. And Martha is described as "a nice fat lady with no pretenses." The letters Axel wrote to his sister and others, and letters from his family to him are translations from French to English of the actual letters and appear throughout the novel.

When Von Fersen returns to France after fighting for the American colonists against the British, France is on the brink of upheaval. One of the major reasons for the unrest lies in the character Marie Antoinette herself or what was perceived as her character.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Very well written! It's not a historical romance type novel or a text book. It's a very entertaining, well written historical account of the affair, between Swedish aristocrat Count Axel Von Fersen and Marie Antoinette. It gives an excellent account of how they met and what life was like for them and the world they lived in. We all know that Marie Antoinette was beheaded, but what led up to it and the aftermath for those she left behind isn't so well know. I now have more of a grasp of how awful it was for them and how long they lived as captives. An authentic look at the lives of the aristocrats and their demise. By the time you are through with the book, you'll have a much better understanding of the French Revolution and how the rest of the world was effected.
Without totally spoiling the ending, I'll just say that there's some similarities to how Axel meets his demise and the French revolution.

If you are interested in learning more about Marie Antoinette and that time period, its a great read, if you want a book in the format of a fictitious historical Romance, it's not the book for you.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Tant pis! "The Queen's Lover" by Francine Du Plessix Gray promises an alluring chemistry-filled love story involving L'Autrichienne, the doomed Marie Antoinette, the unfortunate queen during the French Revolution and Count Axel von Fersen, a famously handsome Swedish nobleman. Sadly, she does not deliver.

Even Victoria Holt (Mistress of Mellyn, My Enemy, The Queen and Devil on Horseback) got this one right--Holt depicts the daughter of Austrian Empress Maria Theresa as the young foreign girl that she was, entering an alien court and marrying someone (Louis XVI of France) that she may have grown to love, but certainly did not love at the time. In Holt's "Queen's Confession, the reader is privy to Marie Antoinette's diary and while Holt may be targeting a younger audience and may not have intermingled authentic historic documents in her prose as Du Plessix Gray does in "Lover," she at least gives her audience a character (true or false) that is relatable and forces the reader to turn the pages with anticipation towards the inevitable--the guillotine in the Place de la Révolution. Quite frankly, Du Plessix Gray's prose is so austere and devoid of any emotion, that I found myself uninterested in lingering along side paths and situations that would eventually lead to what I already knew to be the outcome.
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