The Queen of the Night: Book summary and reviews of The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee

The Queen of the Night

by Alexander Chee

The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee X
The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2016
    576 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

From a ferociously talented writer, praised as "the fire, in my opinion. And the light," by Junot Diaz, comes a blazing portrait of one woman's rise from courtesan to world-renowned diva.

Lilliet Berne is a sensation of the Paris Opera, a legendary soprano with every accolade except an original role, every singer's chance at immortality. When one is finally offered to her, she realizes with alarm that the libretto is based on a hidden piece of her past. Only four could have betrayed her: one is dead, one loves her, one wants to own her. And one, she hopes, never thinks of her at all. 

As she mines her memories for clues, she recalls her life as an orphan who left the American frontier for Europe and was swept up into the glitzy, gritty world of Second Empire Paris. In order to survive, she transformed herself from hippodrome rider to courtesan, from empress's maid to debut singer, all the while weaving a complicated web of romance, obligation, and political intrigue.  

Featuring a cast of characters drawn from history, The Queen of the Night follows Lilliet as she moves ever closer to the truth behind the mysterious opera and the role that could secure her reputation - or destroy her with the secrets it reveals. 

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"A sweeping, richly detailed historical novel about a young woman's tumultuous trajectory from circus rider to renowned soprano at the Paris Opera." - People

"It's the ball gowns and roses, magic tricks and ruses, hubris and punishment that will keep the reader absorbed until the final aria, waiting to see whom fate will curse and whom it will avenge." - TIME Magazine

"Starred Review. Richly researched, ornately plotted, this story demands, and repays, close attention." - Kirkus

"Starred Review. A completely engrossing work that should appeal to the widest range of readers, especially those with a taste for historical fiction." - Library Journal

"Peppering the unfolding plot with real-life events and figures, Chee provides a suitably operatic backdrop for the mesmerizing novel." - Booklist

"Though the momentum flags in the book's lengthy central sections, Chee's voice, at once dreamy and dramatic, never falters; Lilliet's cycle of reinventions is a moving meditation on the transformative power of fate, art, time, and sheer survival." - Pubishers Weekly

"A luminous tale of power and passion. Chee gives us an unforgettable heroine and a rich cast of characters - many of them real historical figures. The story dazzles and surprises right up until the final page." - J. Courtney Sullivan

"A night at an opera you'll wish never-ending." - Helen Oyeyemi

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Author Information

Alexander Chee

Alexander Chee won a Whiting Award for his first novel, Edinburgh, and is a recipient of the NEA Fellowship in Fiction and residencies from the MacDowell Colony, Ledig House, and Civitella Ranieri. His writing has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, Tin House, Slate, and NPR, among others. He lives in New York City.

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