2012, The Penguin Press
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.
"The Queen's Lover is a thrilling book. It has everything--suspense,
intrigue, love, luxury, tragedy and romantic and familial love.
It tells a familiar story from a new point of view."