Saturday, May 5, 2012

Book Review: The Queen's Lover

Media Type: Print Book (ARC)
Title: The Queen's Lover
Author: Francine Du Plessix Gray
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: Hardcover; 300
Release Date: June 14, 2012
Source: Publisher / TLC Book Tours
Genre: Historical Fiction

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Fans of this genre, but also fans of this time period as well.

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
Historical fiction of the highest order, The Queen’s Lover reveals the untold love affair between Swedish aristocrat Count Axel Von Fersen and Marie Antoinette

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.

When he returns, he finds France on the brink of disintegration. After the Revolution of 1789 the royal family is moved from Versailles to the Tuileries. Fersen devises an escape for the family and their young children--Marie-Thérèse and the Dauphin Louis-Charles--whom many suspect to be Fersen’s son. The failed evasion attempt eventually leads to a grueling imprisonment, and the family spends its excruciating final days in captivity before the King and Queen face the guillotine. --Click HERE for more

As I dive further and further into the genre of Historical Fiction, I've realized something. The more you enjoy the historical period surrounding the story? The more you'll love the book. In fact, I picked up The Queen's Lover mainly because I am fascinated by Marie Antoinette and everything that happened in her time period. I'd not heard a lot about her affair with Count Axel von Ferson, other than that it was a possible occurrence. So I was intrigued to see where Francine Du Plessix Gray would take me, and what I would be shown.

The Queen's Lover reads as Count von Fersen's memoir, showing us his life through a long stream of letters and diary entries. There is quite a lot of his thoughts recorded here and I'll admit that it was rather fascinating. The one thing that threw me off almost instantly though, was that this is much more Count von Fersen's story, and not so much Marie Antoinette's. Out of the entire book there is maybe a third that actually mentions their relationship with one another. The rest is a very detailed look at his travels, and his (ahem) conquests.

One thing I can definitely say about Du Plessix Gray's writing, is that she isn't afraid to show Count von Fersen for who he really is. There is no sugar coating here. Presented is a man in his most raw form. He was married to a code of conduct that was not too well received at that time, and definitely would be frowned upon in today's society. As I mentioned above, there is a lot of information about his conquests, and obviously his opinion of women was that they were there to be bedded. Need I say more? It's tough to decide whether or not you are supposed to pity or despise this man. However it is true that his life is definitely not dull.

Although The Queen's Lover is the title, this story is a lot more about Count von Fersen as a man and not so much as Marie Antoinette's lover. That was the one thing that kept me from fully loving this story. Nonetheless, it is a fascinating look into the time period surrounding these characters and Du Plessix Gray goes to great lengths to fully immerse you in their world. If you are a fan of Historical Fiction, and particularly of Marie Antoinette's possible love affair, this is something you'll want to check out.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.


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