Reviews of Farewell, My Queen by Chantal Thomas

Farewell, My Queen

by Chantal Thomas

Farewell, My Queen by Chantal Thomas X
Farewell, My Queen by Chantal Thomas
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Apr 2003, 248 pages

    Paperback:
    Jun 2004, 256 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

With the skill of a consummate storyteller, Chantal Thomas meticulously re-creates the miniature universe of Versailles, brilliantly juxtaposing its beauty and its dawn-to-dusk ritual with the chaos that erupts.

A woman whose function it once was to read books aloud to Marie-Antoinette is haunted by the memory of her last days at the French court of Versailles, when Louis XVI's magnificent palace succumbed to the irrepressible forces of revolution. Now exiled in Vienna, Madame Agathe-Sidonie Laborde looks back twenty-one years to the legendary opulence of Versailles and, overcome with nostalgia and remorse, discovers the full measure of her fascination with the Queen she served.

Transporting us to eighteenth-century France with the skill of a consummate storyteller, Chantal Thomas meticulously re-creates the miniature universe of Versailles, brilliantly juxtaposing its beauty and its dawn-to-dusk ritual with the chaos that erupts. Her portrait of Versailles and of Marie-Antoinette is an incomparable account of the collapse of a lost world.

Translated by Moishe Black.

Prologue
Vienna, February 12, 1810

My name is Agathe-Sidonie Laborde, a name rarely spoken, almost a secret. I live in the émigré quarter of Vienna, in an apartment on Grashof Street. Its windows open above a paved inner courtyard surrounded at ground level by a number of shops: a second-hand bookshop, a wig maker's, a small printshop, a tailor's. There is also a spice seller's stall, just at the foot of my apartment building. A lively neighborhood, but not too noisy. In the summertime, along with Eastern aromas, there are always notes of music floating in the air. The rosebushes winding their way up the building fronts add a garden charm to this little corner of Vienna. But in the dead of winter, which is what we have at present, the rosebushes have ceased to bloom and the sounds of life from the shops no longer reach me. For me, in a general way, the sounds of life are well and truly stilled, whatever the season. It's as though the terrible winter around...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

Tennessean News
...The entire tale is fascinating...

The Washington Post Book World
...elegant powerful novel...dazzling imaginings...Thomas gets the tone and feel of 18th-century court uncannily right...She is a master at recognizing and providing the telling detail...It's a bravura glimpse into a time past and a dreamlike life.

Christian Science Monitor
Madame Laborde begins determined to defend her beloved mistress against 'a campaign of propaganda tending to stigmatize Versailles as a bottomless pit of needless expenses.' At that impossible task, her testimony fails completely, but as a record of the way people react - or fail to react - to changes that threaten their lifestyle, this little book is an unsettling success.

Orlando Sentinel
...illuminating first novel...meticulous detail...Nuance, vitality and glints of humor...Thomas' thorough research and her compassion for her subject not only imbue the novel with remarkable authenticity, but also render it a memorable billet-doux to a bygone France.

The New York Times Book Review
...delightful historical novel...Thomas is a historian specializing in 18th century France, and she knows her subject...In language both vivid and elegant, the novel also captures the mood of panic that soon had servants and soldiers felling their posts, and nobles, clergy and hangers-on looking to save their skins...rich tableau vivant.

Kirkus Review (April 15, 2003)
A former reader to Marie-Antoinette recalls July 1789, in an edifying and masterly first novel, winner of the Prix Femina...Scholarly precision in an artful, fluid, compelling narrative Vive la Reine!

Library Journal (July 2003)
A masterly, haunting account of the downfall of the ancien regime. Timid Agathe Sidonie is the perfect witness, hidden in the corners but capable of musing intelligently on monumental historical change and the particular tragedy of Marie-Antoinette.

Booklist
...[The main character's] status as courtier makes her the best kind of narrator—at once an insider and an observer of the royals. She describes the final days before the revolution engulfs the palace with insight and surprising slices of humour....Thomas's formidable skills as a researcher give the book authenticity, and her keen eye for human behavior and talent for storytelling make it sing.

Publishers Weekly (June 9, 2003)
...The story of Marie-Antoinette's final days is well known, so the delights of this rendition lie in the details. [The main character] Laborde is a keen observer of the queen's moods and appearance, and her attempts to cheer her mistress with well-chosen passages give her story extra depth. Like the tiny enamel painting of Marie-Antoinette's bright blue eyes that inspires Laborde's reminiscences, this is a cunning, gemlike miniature.

Reader Reviews

Peter Parmella

Une grande déception. Á l'ecole j'ai lu de telles histoires.
Truly a disappointing and boring tale about 200 pages toolong.

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Read-alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Farewell, My Queen, try these:

  • Antoinette's Sister jacket

    Antoinette's Sister

    by Diana Giovinazzo

    Published 2022

    About this book

    As Marie Antoinette took her last breath as Queen of France in Paris, another formidable monarch - Antoinette's dearly beloved sister, Charlotte - was hundreds of miles away, in Naples, fighting desperately to secure her release from the revolutionaries who would take her life. Little did Charlotte know, however, that her sister's execution would ...

  • The Last Confession of Thomas Hawkins jacket

    The Last Confession of Thomas Hawkins

    by Antonia Hodgson

    Published 2017

    About this book

    More by this author

    In a new Georgian–era mystery by Antonia Hodgson, the follow-up to The Devil in the Marshalsea, Tom Hawkins prays for a royal pardon as he relives the espionage, underground dealings, and murder accusations that sent him to the gallows.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search read-alikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

and discover exceptional books
for just $3.75 per month.

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Facemaker
    The Facemaker
    by Lindsey Fitzharris
    The summer of 1914 saw the beginning of World War I, the bloody conflict known as the 'war to end ...
  • Book Jacket: How to Read Now
    How to Read Now
    by Elaine Castillo
    Toni Morrison once wrote, 'My project rises from delight, not disappointment.' This remark appeared ...
  • Book Jacket: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow
    Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow
    by Gabrielle Zevin
    It's been more than 20 years since Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Klay won ...
  • Book Jacket: Cult Classic
    Cult Classic
    by Sloane Crosley
    At a trendy Chinese restaurant in downtown Manhattan, Lola, the protagonist of Sloane Crosley's ...

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Dirt Creek
    by Hayley Scrivenor

    "A heart-wrenching mystery, Scrivenor's remarkable sense of place brings Dirt Creek to life. A stellar debut."
    —Jane Harper,

  • Book Jacket

    Some of It Was Real
    by Nan Fischer

    A psychic on the verge of stardom and a cynical journalist are brought together by secrets that threaten to tear them apart.

Who Said...

A library, to modify the famous metaphor of Socrates, should be the delivery room for the birth of ideas--a place ...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

N I, ands, O B

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.