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The Queen of the Night

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3.43  ·  Rating details ·  9,606 ratings  ·  1,713 reviews
Librarian note: an older cover for this edition can be found here.

Lilliet Berne is a sensation of the Paris Opera, a legendary soprano with every accolade except an original role, every singer’s chance at immortality. When one is finally offered to her, she realizes with alarm that the libretto is based on a hidden piece of her past. Only four could have betrayed her: one
...more
Paperback, 561 pages
Published February 22nd 2018 by Penguin (first published February 2nd 2016)
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T The plot was quite intricate, and although I have virtually NO knowledge of opera, I was not off-put by it. The heroine can certainly think on her…moreThe plot was quite intricate, and although I have virtually NO knowledge of opera, I was not off-put by it. The heroine can certainly think on her feet, ceasing any opportunity, no matter how unscrupulous, to get herself out of the most improbable predicaments. I didn't find her particularly personable, but Chee probably didn't want me to. Plucky, yes; but endearing--not so much. It was a good read, however, and I'd recommend it. (less)
Michael Gamble I got a hard-back copy through Amazon - one of their 'Also available from' and am reading it now. Why this 'February release date I don't know - and…moreI got a hard-back copy through Amazon - one of their 'Also available from' and am reading it now. Why this 'February release date I don't know - and though I haven't yet read much of it - it's 553pp. long plus 'Historical Notes and Acknowlegements' - what I have read shows the author as having a great command of writing and spinning a very unusual tale set in the time of Verdi who is also a friend of our heroine . . . . . (less)

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Average rating 3.43  · 
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Madeline
Well.

That didn't go AT ALL like I was expecting it to.

I saw some reviews of this floating around on Goodreads a few weeks ago, and when I decided to look up a plot description, it sounded like everything I wanted from a novel. The story begins with Lilliet Berne, star soprano of the Paris Opera, being offered an original role in a new opera. But as she reads the story, she realizes that the opera is based on her own life, and exposes secrets from her past that she wants to stay buried. There
...more
Roxane
Feb 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a masterfully written book. Chee, just, is masterful. I loved this novel. I loved the density of the prose, and the almost obsessive attention to detail and the intricate plot that never stopped, even when the last line had been written.

I do think some of the recaps of the various operas was just a bridge too far, like, let's wrap it up, friend. These recaps, though full of interesting detail, made the otherwise lively story drag a bit but, I mean, still, this book is masterful.

Queen
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Diane
Like a pretty courtesan trying to make a living, this novel tried desperately to seduce me. It flirted, it danced, it even sang for me.

But the seduction failed. I grew frustrated with this book and struggled to finish it.

First, I must state that The Queen of the Night is an ambitious work of historical fiction. Our heroine, Lilliet, is a famous opera singer in Paris in the 1880s, and she has a lot of secrets. Ever since she was orphaned in America, she's spent her life on the run. Her previous
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da AL
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Opera, circus, travel, a strong woman protagonist, passion, love -- author Chee tics every 'can't wait to read this book' box. Somehow, though, he often lost me. While Chee does a magnificent job of history and setting, the characters, especially the star, felt hollow and flat. Ditto for the audio reader's rendition. The book is 500 pages -- maybe if it had been trimmed way down, it wouldn't have felt so much like a soap opera? Despite the above flaws, it's a good book, just needs to be cut way ...more
Heidi The Reader
Lilliet Berne has secrets, many secrets hidden in her past and layered upon each other through time and circumstance. Now, she is a successful opera singer but, during a ball one night, a man brings a libretto to her attention that seems to be based on her life.

Only a few people know the truth behind the secrets, which one would have made that truth public? Lilliet is going to find out.

Along the way, the reader gets to experience the 18th century world from the American Midwest to the Paris
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Elyse (retired from reviewing/semi hiatus) Walters
The fictional female character in "The Queen of the Night", is an American born
opera singer, whom if meant to resemble anyone .....( author Alexander Chee, says), is
Pamina, from "The Magic Flute"---this book is meant as a reinvention of the Mozart
opera as a novel.

In first person narration, the story begins:
"When it began, it began as an opera would begin, in a palace, at a ball, in an
encounter with a stranger who, you discover, has your fate in his hands. He is perhaps a demon or a god in
...more
Nenia ⚜️ Author of Filthy Trash and Unhinged Psychos ⚜️ Campbell

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There's an author named "Jennifer Wilde" who wrote some of the trashiest, longest-winded bodice rippers I've ever encountered, always both lewd and boring, with heroines who go through hell and back and yet are somehow remarkably detached on an emotional level from anything happening to them, whether it's the death of a loved one or brutal rape at the hands of a captor. The stories are sometimes interesting, but virtually all of the voices
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Dianne
Dec 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of-2016
This book, much hyped and anticipated, has been on my radar for ages. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Opera…..divas…..scandal…..intrigue……what’s not to love? And indeed, it has all that and more. Actually, maybe a little too much “more.”

The plotline is basically this – it is narrated by a woman, who never provides her real name. Her life is a surreal series of episodes that take her from a farm in Minnesota to New York to Paris to London and back to America. She is a farm girl, an orphan,
...more
Helene Jeppesen
Jun 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books that takes you on such a journey that you feel kind of overwhelmed by the end of it. "The Queen of the Night" is a novel that deals with opera and identity, and it is set in several European countries, but mostly in Paris. It was refreshing to read about the opera, and even the way the novel is structured depicts the acts of an opera.
The main character, La Générale, La Muette, she has many names, is also the narrator, and she definitely makes her story intriguing to
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Book Riot Community
I’ve loved opera since I was a teenager, and most of the time I soak it in and drink it up by myself. But it’s okay, because Alexander Chee is here with the most operatic novel I’ve ever read about (wait for it) an *opera* singer whose secret past is the story of a new *opera.* Honestly, even if you aren’t much of an opera aficionado, if you like books with twisty plots, loads of intrigue, unexpected betrayals, and gorgeous dresses, you’ll enjoy the hell out of it. It’s kind of like The Count of ...more
Terri Wino
This book was like a vacation that has lasted a little too long -- it's great while it's happening, but you're glad when it's over and you can go home.
This really was a fascinating story, but man oh man...there were parts that I really struggled to get through because it was just plain boring. I'm sure someone who has an interest in opera would enjoy this book more than I did. I confess I was lost with a lot of the references to operas and all things music.
I did like the story, but the one
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Maxwell
Nov 05, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: botm, i-own-it, kindle, 2017
I enjoyed this book but it did take some effort to get through for me, mostly because it's about 19th century French Opera and goes into a lot of detail about various performances that I personally didn't care for or felt added much to the story. Lilliet's story, however, was fascinating, and the parts that focused on her adventures and growth as a character were super interesting.
Althea Ann
Jun 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As the curtain opens, Lilliet Berne is a celebrity opera singer at the peak of her career. Her greatest worry is that her haute couture dress by Worth might be the tiniest bit out of sync with the fashion. However, when she's approached by a novelist with a proposition, suddenly a new concern arises. On the face of it, the proposition is extremely flattering: the writer is working with an up-and-coming composer to create an opera from his novel, and he'd like Lilliet to originate the starring ...more
Kathy  D.
2.5 stars. Reads like a half-lucid fever dream. She keeps drifting among the same people and situations. Allegedly she is a famous singer, but that aspect is mostly told rather than shown. The whole feel of the book was like you were drifting through the story, just gathering surface details before moving on. I kept putting the book aside to read other books.
Jason Diamond
Oct 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is already my favorite book of 2016 and it's only 2015. Not bad.
Rebecca
I received a free copy of this e-book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I wanted to like this book. I really, really did. I don't know if the final book will be printed like this, but the e-book did not use quotation marks when a character was speaking. This may not bother some readers, but this is my number one literary pet peeve. I felt it detracted from the plot and characters. I really don't think there is a valid reason not to include basic punctuation in
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Britany
Lillian Berne is a legendary soprano in the Opera, narrating her story. She's come to a point in her life where a book is being published about her history- a history where only four people know what actually happened. Which person was behind this book?
"Only four people could have betrayed her: one is dead, one loves her, one wants to own her, and one, she hopes, never thinks of her at all."

This quote perfectly describes the author's writing. Lillian goes back to each of these people, and as
...more
Jennifer
Jul 09, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-books
2- stars for now.

i just don't know what happened here, but this book really went off the rails for me. this novel was one i had really been anticipating for months, though i did work to keep my expectations in check. but perhaps there is a case of it being built up too much in my head before reading it?

i will say that i found chee's prose rather elegant and formal. i'm not sold on whether or not that style fit the character of lilliet well, though in the circles she ended up traveling in, it
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Roshani Chokshi
I adored this!!! It's sweeping and operatic, full of sensory details and gorgeous writing.
Freesiab (Bookish Review)
I so wanted to love this book! And I did for a while but... 1. It's so long 2. The same (but sort of different) events happen over and over 3. It got so damn boring that I stopped caring.
Jessica Woodbury
I heard about this novel way back in the spring at Book Expo, but I don't really like historical fiction. Especially historical fiction featuring real people who are characters in the book. I know those are really popular now, but they aren't really my jam.

But I decided to give this book a try after I learned it was about opera and meeting Alexander Chee, who seemed like the kind of smart person who would write a smart book. It was a good decision.

I'm an opera lover, but you don't have to be
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Cat
There were aspects of this that I really enjoyed but it was ultimately not for me. I've admittedly never been to the opera, so maybe for opera fans this book is right on target. It's certainly very theatrical, very high drama. Plenty of jewels and lavish gowns. Lots of plotting, schemes within schemes within schemes, back stabbing, love, and betrayal. My main problem was the repetition and just the sheer length of it. But if you like long, sprawling, decadent novels you might enjoy this quite a ...more
 ~Geektastic~
Jun 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: opera fans and lovers of baroque historical fiction

I received an ARC of this title from the publisher via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

The Queen of the Night takes opera for its inspiration, but not just because it tells the story of an opera singer. The very structure and form of the story are deeply influenced by opera, which by its nature is not a genre that relies on realism, but rather takes pride in the grand gestures and mythological dimensions of its stories. It’s a synthesis of the ridiculous and the sublime, where the
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Lee Houck
Sep 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Queen of the Night is a beautifully rich, curious, and seductive novel that reveals itself slowly, continuously until the very end. Lilliet Berne is a world-famous opera singer searching through her memories, unearthing the secrets and betrayals that made her. Anyone who adored Chee's first novel, Edinburgh (read: anyone who opened that book,) will be happy to find that in Queen of the Night, his taste and talent for detailed prose is still foremost. There are some incredibly beautiful and ...more
Erin
Oct 26, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book was like climbing Mt Everest except more time consuming & no one thinks you're a badass when you finish. This book got a lot of great reviews so, the problem was probably me. My basic problem with the book was nothing happened. It was so boring & it felt like a job reading it. I still have no clue what this book was about. I leave it up to you rather or not to read the book. You might like it.
Amy
I have really struggled with this book - both the reading of it and the rating of it. It's certainly an achievement and I understand completely why so many are enamored of it. However, I never connected with the material, the story, the characters ... Yet, there is much to applaud here - the plotting of this novel is detailed and makes me dizzy just thinking about it! Perhaps that is part of what made the story feel like it slowed down in the middle. It was GREAT at first, meh in the middle and ...more
David Yoon
Apr 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me awhile to find my footing with the story - the idea of an opera that tells of the secret history of Lilliet Berne, the operatic toast of Paris seems interesting enough. But then the idea that only 4 people in the world could possibly know of her past - “one is dead, one loves her, one wants to own her. And one, she hopes, never thinks of her at all” - is all a bit too. I’m worried Chee is going to read like a gay Dickens.

But then it’s circus performers, prostitutes, changing
...more
Bren
DNF.

I did like it at first. The book has a stunning cover and a great plot but I could not finish it because there are not any quotation marks and it was tough for me to tell whom was speaking when.

For people who do not mind that, they may like this. It is a very interesting Historical Mystery.

I however really struggled to get through it and wound up not finishing it due to the above mentioned issue. It was the first time I'd read a book without quotes.I guess some readers can do that but
...more
Lucy Banks
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

An ambitious, sweeping novel with a surprising lack of emotional engagement.

The description for this book sounded utterly divine. A legendary soprano's life, and her journey from obscurity in a circus to nationwide fandom, thanks to her exquisite 'falcon soprano' voice. How could I resist such a sumptuous storyline?

However, for me, it fell rather flat, and I found myself struggling to get through it (my apologies to
...more
Joy D
This story is an opera in the form of a novel. It is a beautifully written, sweeping epic, and reminds me of classic literature of the 19th century. The plot is complex and intricately woven. The main character is an orphan who loses her family tragically, travels to Europe as a stunt rider in a hippodrome, becomes a courtesan and a ladies’ maid, finds herself a pawn in a power struggle, and trains as an opera singer with an atypical soprano voice type. She interacts with many of the prominent ...more
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"Alexander Chee is the best new novelist I've seen in some time. Edinburgh is moody, dramatic - and pure."--Edmund White

“A complex, sophisticated, elegant investigation of trauma and desire - like a white hot flame.”--Joyce Hackett, in The Guardian

“A coming-of-age novel in the grand Romantic tradition, where passions run high, Cupid stalks Psyche, and love shares the dance floor with death . . . A
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“When the earth opens up under your feet, be like a seed. Fall down; wait for the rain.” 16 likes
“Men often complain of the wickedness of women. Of how we delight in what power we have over their hearts. But they reign over everything else, so of course, they grudge us this, should we ever come to rule over this thing the size of their fist.” 14 likes
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