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Farewell, My Queen

3.36  ·  Rating details ·  796 ratings  ·  92 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

Paperback, 233 pages
Published July 14th 2004 by Atria Books (first published August 21st 2002)
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Average rating 3.36  · 
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 ·  796 ratings  ·  92 reviews

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Jack Urquhart
Oct 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Katie Oncken
Oct 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
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
Ron Charles
Dec 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
Jun 12, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2000s, french
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
Dec 03, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Mel Campbell
I really enjoyed the 2012 film adaptation of this novel, and looked it up online at the time. Somehow I still prefer the film's ability to conjure the atmosphere in the last desperate days of Versailles – perhaps it's a visual thing.

But what the novel does much better is to explain the ugliness of Versailles, which these days we experience as a place of luxurious, stately beauty. Thomas explains that it was built on a swamp, frequently smelled awful, made people ill and was overrun with vermin.
May 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
May 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 21, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2008-reads
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.
May 30, 2017 rated it did not like it
I got about a third in... Does not hold my attention & normally I love anything with kings & queens. ...more
Jul 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
The historical interest and point of view-as Versailles society disintegrates and you witness it in the lives of the servants and lower nobility-are great, but there isn't enough character development of the narrator for her to be believable. She's supposed to be near 40 in 1789 and it reads like she's a simpering, wide-eyed adolescent. Perhaps because the author is a historian (or perhaps something was lost in translation), while the plot unfolds well, I just couldn't make myself care about the ...more
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Tour de force of historical detail and propulsive storytelling. I love historical novels like this, the fruit of deep, scholarly research and a vivid imagination. The skill of this writer put me right into the scenes at Versailles with Queen Marie Antoinette and her court in the days after the fall of the Bastille in 1789. Beautiful and harrowing.
Sonia Wellington
Jul 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
Interesting view of this time period, but the book itself had a very odd style and prose. I think maybe it isn't a very good translation.
Aug 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jason Furman
Aug 12, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: novel, fiction
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.

Aug 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Adam Siegfried
Nov 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical, favorites
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
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'
Angie Fehl
May 05, 2015 rated it it was ok
Whether you like her or not, it's hard to deny that there is something fascinating about Marie Antoinette. I'm definitely a sucker for any books about her! This one had the extra booknerd-y pull of being a novel written around a young woman chosen to be the personal reader to the queen, a position that allows said young woman a front row seat to the luxe life of Versailles. I found the idea of this to be a potentially really interesting perspective!

Translated from the original French by Moishe
Feb 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
The narrative follows Marie Antoinette's reader over 2 days at Versailles, as they discover the revolution is not just a rumor. I found the premise interesting (hence the 2 star rating), but the narrative was convoluted. The numerous characters were not well distinguished. Despite this being a short book, I found it took me a long time to trudge through it.
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
Jul 24, 2011 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
Jun 26, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Dani Neumann
Nov 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Lori Clark-Erickson
Lexile: 1100
Historical event/time period: During the French Revolution n the late 1700's.
Liked: There are points in the book that are interesting and make you want to keep reading.
Disliked: It gets sort of boring once you get more into the book.
Summary: My book is about Marie Antionette's life before and during the revolution. It talks about this old woman who comes and reads to her in the palace and the woman discribes Marie and lets you see how her life was through someone else's eyes.
Robert Palmer
Aug 24, 2013 rated it it was ok
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"
Jennifer Miera
Apr 19, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes reading about Versailles & Marie Antoinette
French Revolution, 1789; Marie Antoinette. Agathe-Sidonie Laborde, one of Marie Antoinette's ladies in waiting, whose job it once was to read to the queen, recounts the days leading up to the end of the monarchy. Read 1/2 - to page 98. Not nearly as good as Abundance by Naslund or The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette (Erickson).
Ashlee Nelson
Jun 24, 2009 rated it did not like it
This book is about Marie Antoinette's reader. I did not enjoy this book at all. The writing was all over the place and I did not connect or feel "into" any of the characters at all. The entire story covers only a few days, the fall of Louis XVI's court, which should make it an interesting novel, but no, it's wasn't.
Beth Sattes
Jan 03, 2010 rated it did not like it
In the past, I have enjoyed reading about Marie Antoinette. I never connected with this writer's version of the story, told from the point of view of the Queen's assistant reader--now residing in Vienna some 21 years past the revolution. Don't know why I even continued in reading, because it was confusing and unclear to me.
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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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