Sally M. (Honolulu, Hawaii)
The Queen's Lover
This book would appeal to lovers of historical novels. It is clear that the author did extensive research into the life of Count Axel von Fersen and the historical period of the French Revolution. I found it hard to keep reading the book, however, as I never got inolved with the hero. I did find interesting historical tidbits, especially concerning Sweden during this period.
Suzanne G. (Bremerton, WA)
Like a sweet dessert
This book is brief for a historical novel, with little of the biographic and period detail one might expect.
Du Plessix Gray is a fine writer who sneaks in sideways glances at the truth of her characters. Our poor hero, Felsen, for example, is so besotted by Marie Antoinette he can't begin to comprehend why the people hate her even as he describes her unimaginable excesses, which he sees as adorable.
With lush prose, Gray presents an original view of Paris and Versailles during the Revolution. This is an enjoyable book for lovers of royalty.
Linda P. (Rockport, ME)
The Queen's Lover
As I read and very much enjoyed the story of Marie Antoinette’s Swedish lover, Count Axel von Fersen, I kept wanting to label the genre of the book as Creative or Narrative Non-Fiction, rather than Historical Fiction. The author has done exhaustive research to bring to life the details of the French Revolution, the tragedy of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI, the role von Fersen played in their lives, and his own ironic fate in Sweden where a similar revolution took place.
The Queen’s Lover is very well written and paints a detailed picture of events that have been shoddily addressed by other authors. I came away with a much better understanding of the political climate surrounding the French Revolution. My only critique of the novel is that the author seems to do more “telling” than “showing”, but that by no means detracted from the brilliant portrayal as seen through the point of view of Axel von Fersen and his sister, Sophie. Highly recommended for lovers of late Eighteenth and early Nineteenth century European history.
Virginia P. (Tallahassee, FL)
The Queen's Lover
As I read this book, I wondered what in the world I would say about it. Historical fiction, "The Queen's Lover" tells of the reign in France of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette and in addition, the romantic pursuit of the Queen by her purported lover, Swedish nobleman, Count Axel von Fersen. To me, the book presentation did not make for a smooth read. The historical facts in many cases were inserted in the story and read like a page from a history book. While the author's writing skills are excellent, this method proved disconcerting to me. A better example of incorporating history with fiction is in "The Winter Palace" by Eva Stachniak. I do not think this is a good book for book clubs as there is not too much that would make for a lively discussion.
Patricia S. (New Canaan, CT)
A diary of loves and revolutions
I hadn't expected to read a book so rich in history - spanning the American, French and Swedish revolutions - written in diary form by Axel von Fersen and his sister Sophie. The author has brought history to life as she weaves the story of Axel falling in love with the young Marie Antoinette, his 'Toinette, a love which propelled him throughout life as he sought to make her life easier and to save her from the guillotine. Despite other loves along the way, Axel remains true to 'Toinette and the royal family, even at the expense of his own family in Sweden. Francine Du Plessix Gray has written a book which will appeal to many types of readers and has a story that won't leave you for a while. If only she'd written this years earlier, I would have loved my European history classes more and understood the complexities of social history in those times.
Karin D. (Glendale, AZ)
I really enjoyed this book. My curiosity about Axel had been piqued when I saw the film with Tyrone Power playing Axel...it left a lot to the imagination and this book fills in the gaps. The author portrays the court with great detail and makes her characters live. I heartily recommend this to all who enjoy Historical Fiction with a love story as a bonus.
Glenn H. (Las Vegas, NV)
Not what I expected
I really wanted to like this book and admittedly there were parts that I enjoyed, but overall this book is not what I hoped it would be. It was less about the love affair between a queen and her forbidden lover or even about a likeable forbidden lover but more about (and often depressingly so) the decline of the French aristocracy, the French Revolution and the royal lineages of western Europe. As an aside the final conclusion of the novel is written on the back which I thought was very odd. Overall just neutral on this book.