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Extended Audio Sample The Queen’s Lover: A Novel, by Francine du Plessix Gray Click for printable size audiobook cover
2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 2.00 (419 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Francine du Plessix Gray Narrator: Edoardo Ballerini, Tandy Cronyn Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Francine du Plessix Gray’s beautifully realized historical novel reveals the untold love story between Swedish aristocrat Count Axel von Fersen and Marie Antoinette. The romance begins at a masquerade ball in Paris in 1774, when the dashing nobleman first meets the mesmerizing nineteen-year-old dauphine, wife of the reclusive prince who will soon become Louis XVI. This electric encounter launches a love affair that will span the course of the French Revolution.

As their relationship deepens, Fersen becomes a devoted companion to the entire royal family. Roaming the halls of Versailles and visiting the private haven of Le Petit Trianon, he discovers the deepest secrets of the court, even learning the startling erotic details of Marie Antoinette’s marriage to Louis XVI. But his new intimacy with Marie Antoinette and her family is disrupted when the events of the American Revolution tear Fersen away. Moved by the cause, he joins French troops in the fight for American independence.

He returns to find 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—whom many suspect is in fact Fersen’s son). The failed attempt leads to a more grueling imprisonment, and the family spends its excruciating final days captive before the king and queen face the guillotine.

Grieving his lost love in his native Sweden, Fersen begins to sense the effects of the French Revolution in his homeland. Royalists are now targets, and the sensuous aristocratic world of his youth is fast vanishing. Fersen 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 ruling class.

Scion of Sweden’s most esteemed nobility, Fersen came to be seen as an enemy of the country he loved. His fate is symbolic of the violent speed with which the events of the eighteenth century transformed European culture. Expertly researched and deeply imagined, The Queen’s Lover is a fresh vision of the French Revolution and the French royal family as told through the love story that was at its center.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Set against the backdrop of royal opulence and revolution, du Plessix Gray’s richly detailed chronicle of love and loss provides startling insight into the complex and tragic inner life of the iconic and controversial French queen Marie Antoinette.”

    Amanda Foreman, New York Times bestselling author

  • “The story of the strange, then sad, then finally tragic life of Marie Antoinette has been told many times, but never with more humane feeling and historical point than Francine du Plessix Gray does in her new novel. Seen from the startling point of view of the Queen’s Swedish lover, Count Axel von Fersen, The Queen’s Lover makes a familiar story newly poignant, and, without ever being pedantic, places that story in a broader context of European politics, too often missed.”

    Adam Gopnik, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Gray has created fully developed, flawed, and complex characters in a way that would not have been possible within the confines of biography.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “Deeply intelligent…Packed with names, dates, and research and bristling with a lively correspondence, du Plessix Gray’s book gives us fiction with a full dose of fact.”

    Washington Post

  • The Queen’s Lover is not only entertaining, but also an informative book portraying eighteenth-century life of the rich and famous, including details of the events swirling around the French Revolution and its effects elsewhere in Europe.”

    Washington Times

  • “Gray does a wonderful job of allowing us a peek into their personal lives, and they come across as believable, human, flawed, and, in the end, lovable…Prove[s] the amplitude of the historical novel at its best.”

    Boston Globe

  • “The author has expertly re-created the world of the French royal family, depicting them in print as they once existed in life: lighthearted, calculating, and complex. Gray’s subtle treatment of her characters allows them to come alive in this creative account.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “A French Revolution–era tale of love, treachery, and death, reminiscent of Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther…Fans of history—both true and fictional—will revel in du Plessix Gray’s vivid evocation of turbulent times.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • A 2012 Washington Post Notable Book for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Lynn | 2/12/2014

    " Meh. I was jazzed when I started reading the book...LOVE reading about this era of European history. However, as the book d.r.a.g.g.e.d on, I became increasingly disenchanted with the main character, Axel von Fersen. Although he had his moments, I just couldn't feel any real affection for the character...he was way too hung up on being Axel, for my taste. I also didn't think the author was able to clearly distinguish the voices of Axel and his sister Sophie, who also narrated part of the story. Not a total loss though...the history lesson imparted was interesting and, I believe, fairly accurate (from what I've seen on Wiki). "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Karen | 2/7/2014

    " The Swedish Count Axel von Fersen, alleged to be the lover of Marie Antoinette, is the principal character in this fictionalized retelling of the onset of the French Revolution and the end of the monarchy. The author has used real correspondence and other primary sources to construct the story. In doing so, the story gains the reader's credibility, but seems to lose the energy of the primary story line. Still, well written and worth reading, just not as gripping as some similar works. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Katrina | 1/30/2014

    " First Read Win. This to me was a disappointment. I love historical books, and this was just not what I am interested in. The only thing that was remotely interesting was that it was supposedly based off of notes or letters from Count Axel von Fersen, the Swedish diplomat with a romantic attachment to Marie Antoinette. I can give it some props. The writing style was in the form of a memoir. I loved the writing. I just felt it was really thought out. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Lois | 1/19/2014

    " This historical novel is about Count Ferson, Marie Antoinette's lover. It's written in two voices, that of the Count and his sister Sofie. The author used actual letters to add authenticity to the story. It provides an interesting perspective of the French Revolution and the true horrors committed by the people of France in the name of freedom. Though Count Ferson escaped from France, years later he met with an equally horrible death at the hands of Swedish revolutionaries. He is an interesting character, vain and yet principled. "

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