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The Queen's Lover

2.94  ·  Rating details ·  978 Ratings  ·  186 Reviews
Pursuing a friendship and then a passionate romance with the young Marie Antoinette, dashing Swedish nobleman Count Axel von Fersen becomes a devoted companion to the entire royal family before attempting to help them escape in the wake of the French Revolution. By the author of . 50,000 first printing.
Hardcover, 292 pages
Published June 14th 2012 by Penguin
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Misfit
Parts of this review will discuss events that are historical fact. If you aren't familiar with the French Revolution and the fate of royal family, it would be best to stop reading this review. And just so I don't get accused of spoiling, the book jacket and the first pages of the book make it clear that at least in this version Von Fersen and Marie Antoinette were lovers.

The Queen's Lover is the fictional memoirs of Count Axel Von Fersen, memoirs he wrote later in his life. These memoirs are bei
...more
Margo Tanenbaum
May 12, 2012 rated it did not like it
I have a weird fascination with Marie Antoinette and her family and was really looking forward to reading this new novel about Count Fersen, who was perhaps the secret love of Marie Antoinette's life and the architect of the failed escape plan to Varennes, after which the royal family was captured and soon imprisoned in Paris. I didn't feel this novel, which is told in the first person by Fersen himself with other parts narrated by his sister, added anything to my knowledge of the story or my un ...more
Simon
Apr 08, 2018 rated it did not like it
One hopes that somewhere in Heaven, Marie Antoinette is enjoying the beatific vision and is thereby distracted from the knowledge of the truly wretched historical fiction industry her life has generated. She must surely rank next to Richard III as the monarch who has suffered the most at the hands of either those who elevate them to sainthood or damn them to perdition using the same life story.

du Plessix Gray skirts an examination of Antoinette's character by focusing upon Fersen, her putative l
...more
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
Okay, so, I admit it, when I saw the hero of this novel was Axel von Fersen, I immediately thought of so-dreamy-makes-lesbians-faint Jamie Dornan, who portrayed von Fersen in the 2006 Marie Antoinette. Nummy. Needless to say, that mental image helped make this novel especially awesome. But even if your mental image of Swedish courtiers isn't shaped around twenty-something Irish actors, I still think you're really going to dig this book.

Told in parts by von Fersen himself -- by way of his memoir,
...more
Caroline
"The Queen's Lover" is the fictional memoir of Count Axel von Fersen, a man long-speculated to have been the lover of doomed Queen Marie Antoinette. "Edited" by Fersen's sister, the novel focuses on not only his relationship with Marie, but Fersen's entire life--from his many romances to his efforts in the American Civil War.

The Good

Oh, look! A book on Fersen! I've always wanted a book about Fersen. He's such an interesting man, and his relationship with Marie was truly interesting.

The Bad

Wait,
...more
Quinby6696 Frank
Jul 29, 2012 rated it it was ok
This book was disappointing. I was salivating at the prospect of reading a good historical novel about the relationship between the Swedish Count Axel von Fersen and his purported long term affair with Marie Antoinette. The story is told through the use of Fersen's actual memoirs and the fictional ones of his sister Sophie. The transitions between the memoirs is stilted and the combination of fact and fiction harms the flow of the narrative feels uncomfortably stiff. A good historical novel make ...more
Susan Johnson
May 02, 2012 rated it it was ok
I really really wanted to like this book but it just wasn't possible. It was an interesting premise but I just felt like it pandered too much to what the author thought the readers wanted. The story was about Marie Antoinette's affair with Swedish nobleman, Axel von Fersen. The queen was 19 and Fersen was a very haughty, wealthy man who counted the King of Sweden and the King of France as friends. Apparently he had few morals. Not only did he have an affair with the Queen but with numerous marri ...more
April Camuso
Oct 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
In general I liked this book. I learned a lot more about the French Revolution from a different viewpoint. It also emphasized the maternal side of Marie Antoinette which I don't often think about. The writing was good but a little dry at times. The sex scenes were unnecessary and graphic. I skimmed the last three chapters because I didn't care that much about the end of Axel's life. If I could I'd give it a 3.5, but as good reads doesn't allow that I rounded up.
Patty
Apr 20, 2012 rated it liked it
The life story of Marie Antoinette fascinates many a lover of historical fiction. One of the many questions not completely answered throughout time is whether she had an affair with Count Axel von Fersen of Sweden. This book reads as Count von Fersen's memoir - with some additions from his beloved sister Sophie.


Count Axel wrote a long stream of letters and kept a diary so there is quite a record of his thoughts from his lifetime. Marie Antoinette's correspondence did not survive quite as intact
...more
Meg - A Bookish Affair
This book is a fictional tale of Count Axel Von Fersen of Sweden's memoirs. He was the lover of Marie Antoinette. The book also includes chapters from the point of view of his sister, Sophie. I really liked the telling of this story from the point of view of a memoir. You get a more intimate look at what Von Fersen was feeling and doing throughout the book. It was interesting to get inside his head.

Count Axel Von Fersen meets a young Marie Antoinette and falls for her. This book doesn't cover a
...more
Jaime (Twisting the Lens)
This review will be posted on April 16th to coincide with the book tour hosted by TLC Book Tours.


The idea of Marie Antoinette is one of legend. Her grace. Her beauty. Her charm. There have been many stories told of the young queen- some of truth, some of misquoting. However, what every story told has in common is the inability to deny that she commanded a room in a quiet, powerful way with not just her beauty, but her charisma as well. She is the queen for which men found themselves speechless i
...more
Charlie
May 21, 2012 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars
Gems: What's not to love about the French court? You know you're in for a treat whenever this part of history is the subject. The historical research and detailing is phenomenal and demonstrates the authors knowledge and care of the era. It's very well documented, precise and sticks to the basics we all know and love. Now, certain readers will appreciate this, or they may find it a bit dry. It really depends on your particular taste. Although it's listed as historical fiction, it reads
...more
Jafar
Jun 14, 2012 rated it it was ok
With Hillary Mantel winning a second Booker Prize you’d think I’d pick up one of her books if I wanted to read a historical novel. I know her books must be very good, but somehow I can’t get myself to read a 650-page novel about Thomas Cromwell. So I pick this book up after reading a favorable review on NPR. The affair between Marie Antoinette and a Swedish royal that I’d never heard of before. Shouldn’t be too bad, you’d expect, especially when the author has a royal name like Francine du Pless ...more
Karen
Jun 29, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: gave-up-on
This book is on best seller lists and the author supposedly "expertly researched and deeply imagined" this novel. I should have picked up on the "deeply imagined." I've read several books about Louie XVI and Marie Antoinette, and although there were hints that Ferson may have been Marie Antoinette's lover, I don't recall it ever being confirmed. I picked this book up because I thought there might be new historical information about Marie Antoinette's life, but this book is just imagined garbage ...more
Samantha
Jul 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
I think to enjoy this book, you have to go into it expecting to read a history about the French Revolution and Swedish politics in the late 18th, early 19th century. Although The Queen's Lover is technically a novel, it is told in memoir form from the point of view of Axel von Fersen, with chapters by his sister, Sophie Piper, interspersed. Since Francine Du Plessix Gray uses this format of a fictional memoir, she is able to mostly relay historical facts and paint a wide picture of the politics ...more
Lucy
Mar 28, 2012 rated it liked it
Due to partiality towards my favourite Queen, Marie Antoinette, I have to admit that I was very reluctant to read this novel. I knew right off the bat that some things in this book would definitely rub me the wrong way…so let’s see how that turned out;)

Written as a memoir, Count Axel von Fersen’s story is presented to us as an edited version published by Sophie, his sister. Hence, there are passages and chapters interjected by Sophie’s account of what happened as well as those by Axel himself. T
...more
Lianne
Sep 14, 2012 added it
A rich sometimes dense portrayal of the little known story of Marie Antoinette's long term relationship with a Swedish courtier, Count Axel von Ferson. The tragic unfolding of their lives is based on actual letters between Axel and his sister Sophie who was his confidante. The author casts "Toinette" in a sympathetic light. She was a pawn of history, betrothed to Louis XXI as a fourteen year old. She tried to survive in the decadence of Versailles with the resources of her spirit and beauty, but ...more
Marg
May 05, 2012 rated it liked it
3.5/5

Count Axel von Fersen is a name that any Marie Antoinette fans would most likely be familiar with. As the man that she was alleged to be having an affair with, his name is inextricably linked with hers as was his life and in some ways his death.

This book is written as a memoir, relying on known history as well as actual letters than have survived from the time and using those to tell of the events of the relationship between Axel and Marie Antoinette as well as many other major events of th
...more
Jacqui
Nov 09, 2012 rated it did not like it
Okay I admit I picked this up in the hopes of learning a little history while enjoying some brain candy a la "The Other Boleyn Girl". I found the protagonist to be so unappealing, however, that the only reason I finished the book was to exult at his death. If you can cheer for a guy who professes his true love while dropping his pants at every opportunity, perhaps you'll enjoy this more than I did. Bonne chance!
Bev watts
Jun 30, 2013 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed this book. I have read several books about the French Revolution, but had never heard this part of the story. While reading, I kept thinking that I needed to read more non-fiction to balance this fictional story. I was delighted at the end to find that much I'd the book was based on actual letters between the main characters. I would call this factionalized history rather than historical fiction, if that makes any sense.
Lauren
Mar 30, 2012 rated it liked it
Beautifully written but it simply didn't hold my interest. If you are really interested in the French revolution or 18th c. Sweden, this might be your book. If not, I don't think this is a gateway to further reading.
Shelly
Mar 12, 2018 rated it liked it
When I first started reading this book it was interesting because it was like listening to a bunch of gossip. I honestly feel there was no need to have the sister's chapters, they didn't add too much to the overall narration of the story. After the portion around the French Revolution, the story dragged. I wish I could have liked this book more but there wasn't a way to make that happen, unless the book was a bit more edited.
Johanna Markson
May 16, 2017 rated it did not like it
This was so boring. It's about Marie Antoinette's lover Count Axel Von Fersen, during most of her reign as queen of France. He's boring and the way the story is told makes it so dull, more like a dry history book then a novel. I just didn't care enough about him or her to read to the end - not that i didn't already know what happens. Anyway - sad this was not better because I was craving a good historical novel.
Teresita
Mar 18, 2018 rated it liked it
This was a good read but I was definitely lost a lot. There were so many characters and places and travel that I think a lot of the technicalities of the story were lost on me. But overall I enjoyed following the politics and affairs and everything in between. The various deaths were a little rough for me and I do wish it had ended happier (though with a historical fiction that’s usually not the case).
Shirley
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
Very flowery writing for an historical fiction piece. For some reason I thought this would be more about his time with the Queen, and not his life. I did research his life after reading the book. Wow. I think my problem with the book is that the invisible ink in the letters has now been discovered, making the book passé, along with some other suggestions made in the book.
Angela
Jul 07, 2017 rated it did not like it
This "novel" has no character development. Period. The premise of writing a novel from the diary of Count Axel von Fersen who was, as the title suggests, Marie Antoinette's lover would seemingly be an interesting read; however, The Queen's Lover was disappointingly bereft of intrigue. There is limited dialogue and the lack of character depth makes this book exceedingly dull.
Sarah Beth
Mar 30, 2016 rated it did not like it
Told from the perspective of Swedish aristocrat Count Axel von Fersen, this novel follows Axel as he write his memoirs that focus on his love affair with Marie Antoinette. In alternating chapters, Axel's sister Sophie fills in the gaps in Axel's story after his death.

I was excited to read this novel as I knew little about the historical figure of von Fersen and thought that his story would provide a unique perspective of Marie Antoinette. However, I was gravely disappointed in the execution of
...more
Jessica
May 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
As I dive further and further into the genre of Historical Fiction, I've realized something. The more you enjoy the historical period surrounding the story? The more you'll love the book. In fact, I picked up The Queen's Lover mainly because I am fascinated by Marie Antoinette and everything that happened in her time period. I'd not heard a lot about her affair with Count Axel von Ferson, other than that it was a possible occurrence. So I was intrigued to see where Francine Du Plessix Gray would ...more
Courtney
Jun 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book reads as a fascinating, almost-personal view of the French Revolution with definite Royalist sympathies. It fictionally details the entire affair from the point of view of Swedish Count Axel von Fersen from his role as Marie Antoinette's lover.

As some other reviewers have mentioned, the whole "love story" aspect is underplayed--to wit, there is ONE fully-fleshed scene between Marie Antoinette and Count Axel von Fersen (that scene is their first meeting; it occurs in the first chapter
...more
Eileen Iciek
Jun 10, 2014 rated it liked it
There have been a number of non-fiction books out in recent years that tell their stories in a novelistic format. Erik Larson Erik Larson's books such as Isaac's Storm A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History by Erik Larson and The Devil in the White City Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson are of that genre.

This book, however, is more of a novel teaching the reader history. There is almost no dialogue in the book since it is told in the form of a diary or memoir written by Axel von Ferson, a Swedish count and the purported lover of Marie Antoinette. WIthout dialogue, the story dragged in parts, especially when Axel whines about som
...more
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Francine du Plessix Gray, a Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer and literary critic, was born in Warsaw, Poland, where her father, Vicomte Bertrand Jochaud du Plessix, was a French diplomat - the commercial attaché. She spent her early years in Paris, where a milieu of mixed cultures and a multilingual family (French father and Russian émigré mother) influenced her.

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