FAREWELL, MY QUEEN by CHANTAL THOMAS
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 1789—feverish 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
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.
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