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Farewell, My Queen [Paperback]

Chantal Thomas
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Hardcover £8.78  
Paperback £10.74  
Paperback, 10 July 2012 --  

Book Description

10 July 2012

On 14 July 1789, Queen Marie Antoinette and her court spend a pleasant evening in the Great Hall of Versailles, completely unaware that the events of the next few hours will change their lives and their country for ever.

Agathe-Sidonie Laborde is the Queen's reader, and twenty-one years later, an exile in Vienna, she remains haunted by the chaos and fear of those final days at court. Hour by hour, Agathe watchs the tragedy unfold as everything she holds dear is overturned. In the midst of this chaos, the Queen remains an enigma, adored and reviled in equal measure by those to whom she must now turn for help.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Paperback: 233 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone Books; Reprint edition (10 July 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 147670645X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476706450
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.3 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 912,605 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'A well written slice of history...Cast in evocative, observant prose, it generates in the reader a real sense of being a fly on the wall, eavesdropping on the affairs of the great and the not so good.' (Helen Falconer GUARDIAN (10.1.04) )

'All the intimate details of the last days are recounted with remarkable observation, and the reader feels that he or she is actually part of what is happening...the novel is obviously based on meticulous research. This is history in its most readable form.' (Tim Manderson PUBLISHING NEWS (10.10.03) )

'Chantal Thomas makes a smooth transition from historian to fiction writer, using her knowledge of the era to enhance her already evocative turn of phrase. Versaille in all its opulence and debauchery is deftly brought to life and the poetry of these lyrical passages in not lost in their translation from the original French...an impressive debut.' (Lucy Evans INK (1.1.04) )

'a fascinating picture of life at Versailles.' (David Coward TLS (16.1.04) )

'Marie-Antoinette s the subject of hundreds of biographies and movels, but perhaps none of them brings the reader quite so close to her as Farewell, My Queen...The author's imaginative fluency and her close acquantance with every detail are astonishing; her writing is delicate, aerial, precise.' (Hilary Mantel NEW STATESMAN (19.1.04) )

'Thomas...has researched her subject deeply. She conveys impeccably the spirit of the time...the book offers fascinating insights into three days that changed forever the social structure of France.' (Clare Colvin INDEPENDENT (27.1.04) )

'It's a racy, pacy story with a cast of rogues and villains and a wardrobe to make you swoon.' (MAIL ON SUNDAY (25.1.04) )

'This is a charming and entertaining read about the end of an era.' (GOOD BOOK GUIDE )

'Thomas knows her Versailles; she gives a vivid picture of the glorious ship that was the ancien regime, of the ebb and flow of hope and fear as it began to founder, and of that elusive moment when power vanishes, never to return.' (Joanna Hines LITERARY REVIEW (May 2004) ) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Book Description

Superb historical novel about the court of Marie-Antoinette in the 3 days following the storming of the Bastille. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
It was a rather cool morning for July; that, I guess, is what I was thinking as I stood on a stool in my attic room, head thrust out of the window, peering at a rainy sky. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
*Big sigh* This poor poor novel deserver's much more praise then people seem willing to bestow upon it (poor thing) so have decided to intervene on it's behalf. This is a wonderful novel really and one i would implore anyone with an interest in historical fiction to read, it is truly worth it, and indeed for any obsessive Marie Antoinette fan (like yours truly is ^_^) i would say this novel will please very highly. Its pretty word play and charming reminessing of the past, of a world of periwigs and Grand balls among the beginnings of the first signs of a crumbeling autocratic country are truly a delight to read. In my opinion this is not 'the best' novel of Marie Antoinette i have ever read but it certainly wasen't bad, it was charming and i really really enjoyed it and im sure if you give it a try you will see its charm to..
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting 9 Jan 2013
First published in French and recently adapted into a movie, starring Diane Kruger and Lea Seydoux, "Farewell, My Queen" tells the story of the last three days in the palace of Versailles from the point-of-view of a fictional servant, whose job it is to read aloud to the Queen while she takes her morning coffee. The novel, narrated in the first person, gives free rein to the servant-girl's obsessive devotion to Marie-Antoinette and it brilliantly captures the rising tide of panic as the full impact of the storming of the Bastille reaches the court. At times, it feels like the translation into English may have diminished some of the text's drama, but it remains a very good book and its presentation of Marie-Antoinette, more sympathetic and perhaps slightly more enigmatic than in the movie adaptation, is astonishing. A beautifully-written novel from a very knowledgeable historian.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An endearing, fallible heroine 17 Jun 2011
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 Lambourde, 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 Lambourde 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 Lambourde 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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