Farewell, my Queen

by Thomas, Chantal, 1945-

Format: Print Book 2003
Availability: Available at 1 Library 1 of 1 copy
Available (1)
Location Collection Call #
C.C. Mellor Memorial Library Fiction FIC Tho
Location  C.C. Mellor Memorial Library
Collection  Fiction
Call Number  FIC Tho
A woman whose function it once was to read books aloud to Marie Antoinette is haunted by the memory of her last days at the French court of Versailles, when Louis XVI's magnificent palace succumbed to the irrepressible forces of revolution. Now exiled in Vienna, Madame Agathe-Sidonie Laborde looks back twenty-one years to the legendary opulence of Versailles and, overcome with nostalgia and remorse, discovers the full measure of her fascination with the Queen she served. Madame Laborde takes the reader within the palace, meticulously reconstructing the 14th, 15th, and 16th of July 1789feverish days when the servants have disappeared and many of the courtiers are fleeing. Versailles' miniature universe, sparkling with every outward appearance of happiness and beauty, is brilliantly juxtaposed with the chaos that erupts. We witness the unraveling of the palace's dawn-to-dusk ritual and the rising panic of the court as Versailles edges closer and closer to collapse. With the revolutionaries virtually at the gates of the palace, Madame Laborde herself flees the night of the 16th, escaping with members of the once-powerful de Polignac family. Transporting us to revolutionary France with the knowledge and insight of an historian and with the skill of a consummate storyteller, Thomas evokes this historical moment more powerfully than any historical analysis can.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "As revolution rages outside the palace walls, inside the court of Versailles--the court of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI--denial reigns before giving way to alarm, which in turn degenerates into panic and chaos. Thomas spins the familiar events of the 1789 French Revolution into a compelling novel, with the central character less the famously ill-fated queen than the insular and ritualized society of the palace. The story is told by a woman looking back 30 years, to when it was her job to read books aloud to Marie Antoinette. Her status as courtier makes her the best kind of narrator--at once an insider and an observer of the royals. She describes the final days before revolution engulfs the palace with insight and surprising slices of humor. Some passages read almost like satire, as the indulged inhabitants of Versailles cling to the privileges that have defined their now-threatened lives--royals are reluctant to leave the palace without proper traveling attire, courtiers try to flee while lugging heavy possessions. Thomas' formidable skills as a researcher give the book authenticity, and her keen eye for human behavior and talent for storytelling make it sing. --Karen Jenkins Holt"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "The final days of the French Revolution are viewed from a curious perspective in this graceful, exquisitely detailed novel, narrated by Marie-Antoinette's reader ("deputy reader, I should say"), Madam Agathe-Sidonie Laborde. Ensconced in her Vienna apartment 20 years after the downfall of Louis XVI and his queen, the 65-year-old Laborde recalls her life with Marie-Antoinette during the pivotal power shift in July of 1789. An introductory chapter sets the scene, portraying the opulence of court life in Versailles, but also its epidemics and miasmas. Built on a swamp, it is plagued by invasions of insects and rats, and their swarming foreshadows the looming collapse of the monarchy. Events come to a head over the course of three days-July 14-16, 1789-and Thomas concentrates her account on their span. Court life is so insular that the nobles react with disbelief as rumors spread about the storming of the Bastille. When the news becomes impossible to ignore, Marie-Antoinette finally makes her aborted attempt to leave Versailles, even as Louis XVI pulls his troops from the city in an effort to defuse the rebellion. As the end nears for the regime, Laborde makes a desperate effort to escape Versailles. The story of Marie-Antoinette's final days is well known, so the delights of this rendition lie in the details. Laborde is a keen observer of the queen's moods and appearance, and her attempts to cheer her mistress with well-chosen passages gives her story extra depth. Like the tiny enamel painting of Marie-Antoinette's bright blue eye that inspires Laborde's reminiscences, this is a cunning, gemlike miniature. (June) Forecast: Booksellers might do well to group this with Kathryn Davis's novel Versailles (to which it compares favorably) and two recent biographies of Marie Antoinette, Antonia Fraser's Marie Antoinette: The Journey and Evelyne Lever's Marie Antoinette: A Biography. Thomas's novel won the Prix Femina in France, where it was a bestseller. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Marie Antoinette, -- Queen, consort of Louis XVI, King of France, -- 1755-1793 -- Fiction.
France -- History -- Louis XVI, 1774-1793 -- Fiction.
France -- History -- Revolution, 1789-1799 -- Fiction.
Publisher New York :George Braziller,2003
Other Titles Adieux à la reine.
Contributors Black, Moishe.
Language English
Description 239 pages ; 22 cm
ISBN 0807615145
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