The Queen’s Lover by Francine du Plessix Gray is a novel that is rich in historical detail. My interest was piqued when I learned that this novel told the story of Marie Antoinette from a new perspective – that of a lover by the name of Count Axel von Fersen.
Their love affair begins at a masquerade ball in Paris in 1774 and spans decades until her death. Marie Antoinette meets the charming Axel when she is nineteen years old; they are both captivated by each other. This story is drawn together from Axel’s memoirs and the recollections of his sister Sophie along with the actual historical events of the time.
Those who have read any material on Marie Antoinette will have read of her beauty, her charm, and her way of drawing people to her on her presence alone. She is also a queen that has seen her share of scandal as well. Here we learn even more details of both her public and private life through Axel’s memoirs. We learn much about Axel as well. He was not only loyal to Marie Antoinette but to King Louis XVI as well and had, many times, gone to any lengths to help and protect the royal family.
While I love historical fiction I did find this one weighed down with a bit too much detail for me. That’s not to say someone else wouldn’t be fascinated by it all. I had just expected more on the relationship between Marie Antoinette and Axel von Fersen and this novel encompasses much more than that giving us the political climate of the times, etc. The parts that portrayed Marie Antoinette’s life were fascinating to me such as the awful time she spent imprisoned before her death and having her children taken from her. I felt saddened by what she had to go through and I felt bad for Axel as well whose pain you could feel through his memoirs when he is separated from Marie Antoinette and unable to help her.
This novel is extremely well researched. The characters are very well developed and portrayed and the writing itself excellent. Since there is so much detail I think it will appeal to those who like that side of historical fiction. For me, I found the first half of the book more difficult to get through because of the detail but the second half flew by and I enjoyed it. I do like the fact that I learned quite a bit from this novel and I appreciate that and it’s always interesting to see a different side to a historical figure that you like. If you like your historical fiction with a lot of detail then this is one you’ll love!
I read The Queen’s Lover by Francine du Plessix Gray for her book tour with TLC Book Tours. Be sure to stop by the other tour stops to see what everyone else is saying about the book. The Queen’s Lover releases on June 14/12 and you can pre-order your own copy here in the US and here in Canada.
Source: Review copy provided by TLC Book Tours and The Penguin Press. No compensation was received for this review and all opinions are my own.