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Farewell, My Queen

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3.25 of 5 stars 3.25  ·  rating details  ·  452 ratings  ·  66 reviews
It was once the job of Madame Agathe-Sidonie Laborde to read books aloud to Marie-Antoinette. Now exiled in Vienna, she looks back twenty-one years to the legendary opulence of Versailles and meticulously reconstructs July 14, 15, and 16 of 1789.

When Agathe-Sidonie is summoned to the Queen's side on the morning of the 14th, Versailles is a miniature universe, sparkling w

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Paperback, 233 pages
Published July 14th 2004 by Touchstone (first published August 21st 2002)
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Best Looking Historical Novels
51st out of 165 books — 83 voters
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18th out of 45 books — 65 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,408)
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Jack Urquhart
Recently the UK’s Mail Online ran an article entitled, “Do you have Celebrity Worship Syndrome?” along with a quiz “to measure the reader’s ‘CWS’ symptoms”. One of the T/F quiz statements was, “I enjoy watching my favourite celebrity”; another read, “I have a special bond with my celebrity.”

The piece put me in mind of Chantal Thomas’s engrossing historical novel, Farewell, My Queen, which I’d just finished reading. The link in my thought loop can probably be traced to Thomas’s description of lif
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Katie Oncken
This is not historical fiction. This is literary fiction. I could not put this down to save my life. After seeing the film, which was beautiful in its own regards, I had to purchase this (if only I read French well enough!). Both are incredibly different, and yet, incredibly enjoyable. And while the movie is delicious and glamorous, moving and one I cannot wait for on DVD, this has a beauty, life, and suspense to it that cannot be recreated on film. Agathe lives and breathes and in her own almos ...more
Maggie
This was absolutely brilliant. Given, I did pick it up once I had seen the movie trailer (but only because I didn't know it existed beforehand, for I am deeply attached to this particular era), but I came to like it for different reasons than I had been expecting. From a typically non -fiction author, this book is packed with facts and yet it still manages to flow. Once you begin the book you are taken through the sorted memories of a girl who was once Marie Antoinette's personal reader. You mee ...more
Anna
I read 'Farewell, My Queen' after seeing the sumptuous film adaptation. Although the film and book differ substantially in the details of how things unfold, they have the same basic structure and, crucially, the same atmosphere. This novel takes place as a memory of the last few days the main character, Sidonie, spends in the Palace of Versailles. After news of the fall of the Bastille reaches the royal family, life at Versailles unravels chaotically.

It was interesting to read 'Farewell, My Quee
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Bridget
Jun 03, 2009 Bridget rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: History lovers, those interested in Marie Antoinette
Shelves: 2009-reads
This book was given to me by a friend. The story is told from the perspective of a woman who is the Reader to the Queen, Marie Antoinette. The story is remembered from the perspective of 1810, in Vienna, and covers the story of the last days of the court at Versailles in 1789, when the French Revolution started.

This was an interesting read, as it was told from the perspective of someone who is part of the court, but not one of the higher ranking indviduals. Marie Antoinette is presented as a wom
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Drea85
High quality historical fiction with a gender touch. The former reader of Marie Antoinette evokes the last days of royal life in Versailles and, thereby, laments the passing of the Ancien Régime. What distinguishes this novel from the multitude of fiction concerned with 'Great Women in History' is the amount of historical facts invested and the beautifully ambivalent atmosphere created by the author. Instead of focusing on common stereotypes about the people and the places of glorious France bef ...more
Katie
I have my doubts as to whether whoever wrote the review quoted on the cover calling this book "a racy, pacy story with a cast of rogues and villains" has in fact read it. It was neither racy, nor pacy, and the characters weren't fleshed out enough to be rogues and villains. In fact, it didn't really have characters at all, just figures who appeared as the narrative required. However, while I wasn't the slightest bit interested in the characters, least of all the insipid narrator, I was quite int ...more
Danielle
This book showed a different side of Versailles than other books in the genre typically do. It presented a peripheral view of the eve of the French Revolution and really demonstrated what happened in the palace at large as the royal family was about to leave. So many stories from this time period are only told from the upper class- I feel like I've read multiple times the details of what happened in the inner apartments, with the inner elite circle, but never have I read about what the masses in ...more
Jason
Farewell My Queen has some great writing, some great scenes, some great impressions, but much of it is dull and uneven.

It recounts, almost hour-by-hour, Versailles on July 14th-16th 1789. The first day is a normal one as courtiers and servants do what courtiers and servants do. The second day begins with the residents learning that the King was awoken in the middle of the night to be told about the Bastille. By the third day everyone is making plans to flee and the monarchy appears to be over.

Th
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Adam Siegfried
Les Adieux a la Reine was recently adapted for the silver screen with Diane Kruger as Marie Antoinette. The film is visually stunning but lacks many of the details that made the novel intriguing.

The story is concerned with Marie Antoinette's final days at the Palace of Versailles. This is an interesting period of time for a Antoinette novel. The revolution is occurring but we are intrenched with Agathe-Sidonie Laborde, the royal reader to the queen. All we know about the revolution is told thro
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Ron Charles
In high school, I learned that those who don't remember the past are doomed to repeat History in the summer. An affecting new novel about the French revolution, by Chantal Thomas, encourages me to hope that the day must not be far off when desperately bored students will storm the bastille of textbook publishers and usher in a new era of history education. It's time heads rolled, instead of resting on the desk.

"Farewell, My Queen," translated by Moishe Black, takes us to Versailles on July 14, 1
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Aude
J'ai globalement bien aimé ce livre, surtout la façon dont il est écrit, on rentre dans l'intimité de Versailles de Marie-Antoinette, on apprend à aimer cette reine publique. Vu la période, on a plutôt tendance à s'intéresser à ce qui se passait du côté du peuple, et ce livre se déroule du côté de la cour de Versailles, et c'était intéressant de voir ce point de vue, même s'il s'agit d'une fiction. Le plus frappant a été le passage où la prise de la Bastille est perçue comme un pur canular, comm ...more
Donna
Farewell, My Queen by Chantal Thomas

This is a story about the last three days, July 14-16, 1789, at Versailles of Agathe-Sidonie Laborde who was the assistant reader to Marie Antoinette. Agathe escaped Versailles 21 years earlier and is now telling her story. Versailles was abandoned in July 1789. Agathe says for her the downfall of Versailles started with a vague sense of uneasiness, a sense of strangeness, felt by her at the chateau that morning of July 14th, 1789. The king had not been out on
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Natalie
The book is translated quite well from French, originally, I think in 2002. I reviewed the film for my newspaper and, without my knowing much European history (sadly), I was moved by it to read the book and do a little other reading to fill in some of the gaps in my understanding. The book, narrated in first person by the protagonist, did not make her as much a figure of mystery as did the film. Sidonie Laborde, a reader to Queen Marie Antoinette at the court in Versailles, loves her. The book i ...more
Anna  Gibson
Farewell, My Queen is a narrative of the last three days at the court of Louis XVI, told from the perspective of a reader to Marie-Antoinette.

Chantal Thomas, who has written several books about Marie-Antoinette and the French Revolution, does well capturing the chaos and downfall of the court.

The book tells a story, but the main focus is rather on Versailles itself. On the courtiers, the way of life, the things that seem absurd to even think of - as the main character states in one passage, it'
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Nathalie
Je suis loin d'être passionnée par la reine Marie-Antoinette,je le suis bien plus par cette période de l'histoire, qu'est la révolution. Suite à l'adaptation de Benoit Jacquot,je me suis plongée dans ce récit hors d'âge. Ce roman dépeint les coulisses de Versailles suite au funeste 14 juillet,Versailles coté Grands Appartements et courtisans et Versailles coté galeries et domesticité au moment ou l'Ancien régime s'éffondre

Ayant vu le film avant d'en lire le roman, j'ai trouvé que l'adaptation ap
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Elisabeth
Publié en 2002
Prix Femina 2002

L'auteure est historienne avant tout et spécialiste du XVIII siècle et de Marie-Antoinette.

Résumé: C'est une roman...et j'insiste sur le mot. Il s'agit de l'histoire d'Agathe, ancienne lectrice de Marie-Antoinette qui relate sa vie à Versailles et plus particulièrement les 3 dernières journées de la cour, soit le 14, 15 et 16 juillet 1789.

L'intérêt de la lecture est purement historique, pour savoir comment se sont déroulées les dernières journées de Versailles, dep
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Giorgia Penzo
Nonostante si apra con uno dei prologhi più coinvolgenti in cui mi sia mai imbattuta ("[...]E certe mattine, nella semincoscienza che precede il risveglio, quando posso lasciar durare tale sensazione di dolce confusione, faccio come se mi trovassi ancora laggiù, credo di toccare con il dito il tramezzo della mia camera, di rigirarmi nel mio letto, di sentire di nuovo le mie folte chiome contro il guanciale, e mi dico che, a qualche camera di distanza dalla mia, lei respira") il resto del romanzo ...more
Delphine
Je viens de finir de lire Les Adieux à la Reine de Chantal Thomas (Prix Femina 2002). Madame Laborde est la lectrice adjointe de Marie-Antoinette. C'est par ses yeux et sa narration à la première personne que le lecteur découvre l'ambiance qui devait régner à la Cour de Versailles en juillet 1789 (du 14 au 17 plus précisément.)

La Reine envisage de fuir avec sa famille, y renonce à la dernière minute, fait partir sa favorite, Gabrielle de Polignac et demande à Mme Laborde de l'accompagner. Ces jo
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Sophie Knightly
Chantal Thomas is a master! I only wish that I could have read this book in the original French. She clearly, precisely, and realistically describes life at Versailles during the reign of Marie Antoinette. She writes of rats, mosquitos, and the winding labyrinth of the corridors and corners not typically associated with the Château de Versailles. She also has chosen to write in the first person using the voice of an assistant reader to the Queen (a lowly position in vast household of Marie Antoi ...more
Amanda
A look at the panic that whirled around Versailles when the Bastille fell. From the point of view of Marie Antoinette's deputy reader, we see many details of court life and ritual. And some of the nastier aspects too. Apparently Versailles was riddled with vermin and on a hot day was quite a stinky place to be - but the place to be none the less. We also see how people had become so inculcated with the hierachy of the society, that people were swept up into a panic when there were no servants to ...more
Léonie
Un peu déçue . C'est assez rare , mais cette fois ci je préfère l’adaptation au cinéma . Le livre est assez intéressant dans sa première partie , on entre dans le cercle intime de la Reine par le biais de sa lectrice mais peu à peu le livre se perd dans des détails historiques et des clichés ( il ne manquait plus que le " qu'il mange de la brioche " ). Finalement ses "adieux" n'ont rien de vraiment déchirants , du fait qu'à aucun moment on ne sent une réelle complicité entre les 2 femmes , ou mê ...more
Olga Kowalska
Un roman magnifique, parfaitement précis dans tous les détails historique des derniers jours de Marie Antoinette avant le pris de Versailles. L'histoire de dévouement et d'amour extraordinaire pour une femme qui a été tout - la Reine.
Bibliovixen
I highly recommend the book over the movie. The movie took about 1/3 of the book plot and then tarted it up. The book is much more engrossing about the day-in-a-life perspective just before the French revolution.
Tori
Jul 24, 2011 Tori added it
The storyline of this book was that of one women who was Marie Antoinette's personal reader talking about 3 days back in 1789, as the French Revolution nears. It seemed rather promising. However, I had three major problems with the book. First, it had no solid plot line. Secondly, it went off on tangents that really made no sense. And last of all, it was so unengaging. I didn't care about the characters or the book at all. It took me forever to finish it, all the while HOPING it would get better ...more
Paula Dembeck
This story is narrated by the deputy reader to Marie Antoinette and describes the life at court in Versailles the last three days before Marie Antoinette’s execution. The author of the book is a scholar of 18th century literature and she brings that knowledge to all her descriptions of the context of the story. Fascinating to read about the indecisive behavior of both the royals and the nobles, who knew trouble was on its way, yet refused to acknowledge anything was happening, living their life ...more
Anna
Pour situer le roman : une dame, deuxième lectrice de la Reine Marie-Antoinette, raconte les 14, 15 et 16 juillet 1789 avec elle à Versailles.
Les adieux à la Reine est une lecture intéressante, mais pas le chef-d'œuvre que j'attendais vu les critiques dithyrambiques que j'avais lues à son sujet. Je ne me suis pas sentie emportée par l'histoire, j'ai continué à lire parce que ça m'intéressait, mais pas parce que j'étais passionnée. Petite déception, donc.
Robert Palmer
The Queen in question is Marie-Antoinette as told by one of her readers,she had a reader because she didn't care to read. The time peroid is the first three days of the Freanch revaluation starting with the storming of the Bastille in Paris and how the people staying at Versilles reacted to the events. It was only three days but reading seemed like three weeks and at the end I was happy to say " farewell my Queen"
Aurélie
Après avoir lu l'Echange des princesses, j'ai eu envie de lire Les Adieux à la Reine. J'avais vu le film de Benoît Jacquot au moment de sa sortie, et il m'avait beaucoup marqué. J'ai retrouvé dans le livre la même atmosphère de déliquescence des jours qui ont suivi la prise de la Bastille. J'aime vraiment les romans de Chantal Thomas car elle décrit le vrai Versailles, tel un village surpeuplé de 3000 habitants...
Elizabeth
The book started with a lot of promise: terrific writing, rich characters and setting, a unique perspective. But then halfway through the story just seemed to get lost. The ending was inevitable and there just didn't seem to be enough movement in the story to bother riding it along the way. This was a fun and quick read, but overall just not as interesting and captivating as I had hoped at the beginning.
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Chantal Thomas (born 1945 in Lyon) is a French writer and historian. Her 2002 book, Farewell, My Queen, won the Prix Femina and was adapted into a 2012 film starring Diane Kruger and Léa Seydoux.

Thomas was born in Lyon in 1945, and was raised in Arcachon, Bordeaux, and Paris. Her life has included teaching jobs at American and French universities (such as Yale and Princeton) as well as a publishin
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More about Chantal Thomas...
The Wicked Queen: The Origins of the Myth of Marie-Antoinette L'Échange des princesses Le Testament d'Olympe Comment supporter sa liberté Sade

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