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 being prepared for publication posthumously by his sister, so you get the odd chapter here and there where she inserts notes to clarify certain events and what not. I could waste time and words giving you a run down on the historical events this novel covers, but the book blurb tells you everything that happens and you could just read that and be done with it.
Sigh. Unfortunately, the memoir format does not work well, and I found Von Fersen to be a most unsympathetic leading man. I understand history says he was known to be quite the ladies man, but let’s just say that the sexual details included in these supposed public memoirs are way too much information and add nothing to the story. The sexual descriptions are very clinical, and not necessarily just with the love of his life. Ick, ick, ick what he did with one mistress right after…(can’t spoil). Thank goodness I’m not allowed to quote from the ARC, but if you’re thinking you’re going to get a fairy tale romance and twu wuv fowevar, you are going to be sadly disappointed.
As for the rest of the story? Tedious. Even Von Fersen’s recounting of his attempt to get the royal family out of France was boring (Dumas does it better). Von Fersen’s memoirs continue as he recounts events in France – events that he didn’t personally witness – so there are endless pages of info dumping via super secret letters between him and Marie A. More info dumping when there’s a gap in the Von Fersen’s memoirs and the sister takes over and recaps events for you. Frankly, if you are already familiar with this period you aren’t going to get anything new out of reading this novel. For those readers looking to learn more about the French Revolution and wanting to be entertained, I’d suggest reading the series written by Alexandre Dumas. At least that way, you can learn and be entertained at the same time.
2/5 stars, and I’m only giving that extra star for the descriptions of of Versailles and the court at the start of the book, I suggest passing on the rest of it. Library only, then buy it if you love it. Reviewed for Amazon Vine.