Historical fiction of the highest order, The Queens 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.
Grieving his lost love after he returns to his native Stockholm, Fersen begins to sense the effects of the French Revolution in his own homeland. Royalists are now targets of the people's ire, and the carefree, sensuous world of his youth is fast vanishing. Fersen, who has been named Grand Marshal of Sweden, is incapable of realizing that centuries of tradition have disappeared, and he pays dearly for his naïveté, losing his life at the hands of a savage mob that views him as a pivotal member of the aristocracy.
Scion of Swedens most esteemed nobility, Fersen came to be seen as an enemy of the homeland he loved. His fate is symbolic of the violent speed with which the events of the 18th century transformed European culture.
Expertly researched and deeply imagined, The Queens Lover offers a fresh vision of of the French Revolution and of the French royal family, as told through the love story that was at its center.
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sees through the queen's reputation for emptiness and the king's for dullness to give us a balanced view of what transpired within the mirrored halls of Versailles. By also making us privy to all his political escapades back in his native Sweden, the story broadens into a wider picture of European monarchy in transition." - Booklist
"Fans of history - both true and fictional - will revel in du Plessix Gray's vivid evocation of turbulent times, though readers accustomed to in-the-moment action may lament the narrative remove of the faux memoir." - Publishers Weekly
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Francine du Plessix Gray has been a regular contributor to The New Yorker and is the author of numerous books of fiction and nonfiction, including Simone Weil, At Home with the Marquis de Sade: A Life, Rage and Fire, Lovers and Tyrants, and Soviet Women. She is most recently the author of the memoir Them: A Memoir of Parents. She lives in Connecticut.
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