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Farewell, My Queen: A Novel Paperback – Jul 10 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; Media Tie-In edition (July 10 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 147670645X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476706450
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.3 x 1.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 204 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #368,220 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents


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Format: Hardcover
Perhaps it's because I read this novel in translation that I did not find it as compelling as others reviewers have. I finished the novel because I wanted to find out how the protagonist made it to Vienna when the Versailles fantasy began to collapse. But it was a slow go. In places, such as where the protagonist recalls in stunning detail a lengthy conversation between two guards about Marie Antoinette, I felt my crdulity strained that, as one of the queen's courtiers, she wasn't either beaten up or raped by these two guys. In fact, maybe it was the sexlessness of this world--with only the hint of a possible lesbian relationship with Gabrielle de Polignac--that made it finally less than riveting.
High points of the novel: the meticulous description of the most minute gradations of rank and the way they constantly underwent change.
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Format: Paperback
Two decades have passed since the momentous events of the final days of the reign of King Louis XVI and his Queen Marie-Antoinette. The Queen's deputy reader, Madam Agathe-Sidonie Laborde, from the safety of her Vienna apartment looks back to the revolutionary fervor that beheaded the monarchy and recalls that final month in the summer of '89. Leading up to the three heated July days, the opulent aristocracy including the king refused to believe the unrest would turn violent. Instead they lived in splendor in the Versailles Palace accompanied by rats, insects, and disease as to be expected when one builds on a swamp. By the time the court accepted reality, it proved too late for most although Madam Laborde, in a desperate Hail Mary escape attempt knowing that anyone associated with the crown was subject to Madam Guillotine, obviously succeeded so that she can share her memories of those days that changed the world forever.
This brilliant work of historical fiction shines quite a fabulous light on mostly Marie Antoinette in her final days, but also the rest of the French Court as the Revolution erupts. The tale provides the most intimate levels of detail that history ignores (a luxurious castle overrun by vermin stunned this reviewer). Madam Laborde's account is so dramatic and specific even to the smallest tidbits that the audience ends up with a terrific work of fiction that provides an insightful reality of the era, so much so that audience will feel they are standing in the dark along side the frightened queen who tried to flee when it was too late. Historical readers including non-fiction fans will treasure this incredible creative masterpiece.
Harriet Klausner
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Format: Hardcover
Agathe-Sidonie Laborde was a reader to Queen Marie-Antoinette of France. Living in exile in Vienna at the age of 65 she recounts in flashback the last days of Versailles before it fell to the revolution in France.
The story is rather like watching a ship sink. A world full of people and customs that are on the brink of extinction and right up to the last minute few of them want to believe that their world is ending. Versailles and its inhabitants and centuries of customs vanish in the space of three days.
In this small novel the author brings to life for a short space the doomed world of the French aristocracy, told through the eyes of someone who lived on the fringes of their world, but still knew its inhabitants well. This is not my favourite historical novel, but it is one that is memorable for its feeling of doom and how well the author seems to have caught the lost world of France before the revolution.
Would I read this book again? At this point, I couldn't give a definite yes. I would recommend you borrow this from the library to read before buying it to see if it suits your tastes in historical novels as in many ways it differs from the "standard" history story.
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By ilmk on March 5 2004
Format: Hardcover
Chantal Thomas' 'Farewell my Queen' takes the form of a confessional memoir, spoken by an old lady in self-imposed exile in Vienna, recounting the change in French monarchy to republic. The pivotal story takes place over the course of three days, giving us a by the hour breakdown of the confusion that surrounding the tumultuous events of July 14 - 16, 1789 as the Bastille fell and Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were forced to attempt to flee Versailles. It is an eloquently written novel that seeks to demonstrate the artificial utopia of a late eighteenth century French court life which floated along in a structured yet almost dreamy manner and was rudely intruded upon by the realities of life over a fateful three days. Whilst it is hard to find sympathy for any of the protagonists, so ably represented by the doeful Madame Laborde, second reader to the Queen, it does show an embellished view of the shocking awakening of those courtiers that drifted through court life in a naive manner where responsibility for actions and their consequences has been entirely removed.
We follow the inexorably obsequious Laborde as she scuttles from room to room not understanding what is happening to shake her gentle world, responding in a child-like fear to the anxious adults. The scene where Madame Laborde is summoned to the Queen's Gilt Chamber to assist in her packing for trip to Metz best epitomises the rapid descent into chaos as the Queen's ladies desperately seek to retain some normality in the absence of hard facts and the maelstrom that is rife rumour.
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