The Queen of the Night

The Queen of the Night

Book - 2016
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National Bestseller
New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice | An Indie Next Pick
A Best Book of the Year from NPR, Boston Globe, Buzzfeed , Esquire , San Francisco Chronicle, Time Out, Self, Jezebel, The Portland Mercury, Electric Literature, and Entropy Magazine

"It just sounds terrific. It sounds like opera." --Joan Acocella, The New Yorker

"Sprawling, soaring, bawdy, and plotted like a fine embroidery." --Scott Simon, NPR

"Dazzling." -- Wall Street Journal | "A brilliant performance." -- Washington Post

"Sweeping, richly detailed." -- People | "Masterful." -- Wired | "Spellbinding." -- BuzzFeed

A "wild opera of a novel,"* The Queen of the Night tells the mesmerizing story of Lilliet Berne, an orphan who left the American frontier for Europe and was swept into the glamour and terror of Second Empire France. She became a sensation of the Paris Opera, with every accolade but an original role--her chance at immortality. When one is offered to her, she finds the libretto is based on her deepest secret, something only four people have ever known. But who betrayed her? With "epic sweep, gorgeous language, and haunting details,"** Alexander Chee shares Lilliet's cunning transformation from circus rider to courtesan to legendary soprano, retracing the path that led to the role that could secure her reputation--or destroy her with the secrets it reveals.

"If Lilliet Berne were a man, she might have been what nineteenth-century novels would call a swashbuckler: the kind of destiny-courting, death-defying character who finds intrigue and peril (and somehow, always, a fantastic pair of pantaloons) around every corner." -- Entertainment Weekly

Publisher: Boston : Mariner Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016.
ISBN: 9780544925472
Branch Call Number: FIC Chee
Characteristics: 568 pages ; 21 cm


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CRRL_MegRaymond Feb 06, 2018

A famous opera singer is offered the role of a lifetime. The scandalous story is her own - one that only a handful of people know. Who has betrayed her?

KateHillier Jan 12, 2017

This book is one dense, detailed story. You think this story is one thing but it slowly continues on into every little detail from Lilliet's life, to the clothes she's wearing. Very operatic.

Lilliet is a star soprano with the world in the palm of her hand. That is until she is offered a part in an opera that tells her greatest secret. You learn what that is, and you learn how she got to where she is, but it is definitely not the sort of story you're expecting. Not in the way you think it's going to presented anyway. There's a whole lot of awesome female characters and awesome female agency happening here, even considering time period.

It's a detailed read. It's a bit of a long haul. It's worth it.

Aug 15, 2016

A very compelling story, but a little dense and hard to get through at times. I started it as a paper book but ended up finishing it as an audiobook. I preferred the latter, because I have more time to listen than to read, and the beautiful writing lent itself to the spoken word.

Aug 08, 2016

I enjoyed this book immensely. It is way out of my comfort zone, but I grabbed it off the New Book rack. Pleasantly surprised. Well-detailed, well-written (although in a few places I had to go back and reread for a sentence to make sense, lol) and well-researched. Some excellent plot-twists, too! I read A LOT and I would recommend this book to anyone who loves music, history, fashion, sociology or an engaging beach-read.

SPL_Shauna Jun 25, 2016

Lilliet Berne is the pride of the Paris opera scene. But, her world turns upside down when a mysterious author at a soiree tells her about a novel he's working on. As he speaks, it becomes clear he knows every detail of Berne's dark history.

Only 4 people know Berne's story; she departs on a mission to find out who's spilled her secrets.

Lush, lavish and tactile, this book smolders through the American Midwest, a circus, a brothel and a revolution. You feel as though you could put on any of her costumes herself. Highly recommended.

ChristchurchLib Mar 28, 2016

The queen of the night: A novel
by Alexander Chee

With her distinctive "falcon" soprano, Lilliet Berne is the uncontested star of the Paris Opera. Only one accolade has thus far eluded her: the chance to originate a leading role, ensuring that she'll never be forgotten. Her wish comes true when she's presented with a libretto that alludes to the secrets of her past. Only four other people know the details of her early life, but which one of them betrayed her? As she tries to solve the mystery, she reflects on the various parts she has played, beginning with her childhood on the Minnesota prairie and encompassing roles as a circus performer, as a servant to Empress Eugénie, and as a celebrated courtesan. As lush and dramatic as the theatrical world it depicts, this sweeping novel brings Belle Époque France to richly detailed life.

Feb 19, 2016

Lilliet Berne is a famous opera singer in 1882 Paris when an author approaches her to ask her to star in an opera he has just finished writing. When she reads it, she realizes that the story relates her own secret past. As she tries to discover the person who betrayed her confidence, she remembers her humble beginnings as an orphan from Ohio, her travels in Europe with a circus and her success as a singer in the City of Lights. In her adventures, she rubs shoulders with historical figures, such as Giuseppe Verdi, Ivan Turgenev, George Sand and the Empress Eugenie, and survives the Second Empire, the Prussian War, the Siege of Paris and the Paris Commune.

The Queen of the Night is a fascinating read about a violent period in the history of France. Lilliet Berne is based on real-life Jenny Lind, a famous Swedish opera singer of the 19th century. She is the main character in her own tragedy/opera with the result that the narrative sometimes is a bit far-fetched. In addition, the fact that dialogues are written without the use of quotation marks can be confusing as the reader can’t be sure if the character is speaking or thinking. While this technique has been used effectively by several authors (A Million Little Pieces by James Frey comes to mind), it is not entirely successful in this book, perhaps because The Queen of the Night is a historical fiction, and this method is a better fit in a contemporary novel. However, Alexander Chee shows he is a great literary author with his intricate writing style and his use of a story within a story. His passion for the opera shines through, and he certainly knows how to keep the reader’s attention until the end of the book.

The Queen of the Night was sent to me for free in exchange for an honest review.

Please go to my blog, Cecile Sune - Bookobsessed, if you would like to read more reviews or discover fun facts about books and authors.

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