Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee

Lilliet Berne is a star of the Paris Opera, singing in a gorgeous and fragile Falcon soprano that has made her an icon. All she needs to make her a legend of the stage is an original role - and soon enough, she’s offered the opportunity. But her joy soon turns to alarm as she realizes the libretto bears an unnerving resemblance to her past - a past she’d thought was long buried.

Only four people know the truth of Lilliet’s rise to fame, beyond the facade she’s created as “La Générale.” As she searches for libretto’s true author, Lilliet revisits the story of her past, which transports the reader from 19th century frontier Minnesota to a circus that provided her escape; to the Paris of Emperor Napoleon III and the ensuing Commune; and back to the stage that would be her sanctuary (and possibly, her undoing).

This story was wonderfully written - operatic in structure and lush in detail. Chee weaves in historical figures and events in an effortless way - moments fitting perfectly with Lilliet’s fantastic and heartbreaking past. This book moves swiftly and feels so full of suspense that it’s difficult not to finish in a few sittings, even at close to 600 pages.

A truly sweeping and engaging read. Perfect for book clubs, historical and literary fiction fans, and those looking for a really engrossing story.

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