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Les Adieux à la reine - Prix Fémina 2002 (original 2002; edition 2002)

by Chantal Thomas

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1891062,490 (3.43)17
Member:LibraryGoddesses
Title:Les Adieux à la reine - Prix Fémina 2002
Authors:Chantal Thomas
Info:Seuil (2002), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:France, Marie Antoinette, 1789, Versailles, Bastille Day, Louis XVI

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Farewell, My Queen by Chantal Thomas (2002)

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» See also 17 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Farewell My Queen has some great writing, some great scenes, some great impressions, but much of it is dull and uneven.

It recounts, almost hour-by-hour, Versailles on July 14th-16th 1789. The first day is a normal one as courtiers and servants do what courtiers and servants do. The second day begins with the residents learning that the King was awoken in the middle of the night to be told about the Bastille. By the third day everyone is making plans to flee and the monarchy appears to be over.

The story is told in flashbacks from the perspective of then-young woman who was a backup reader to Marie Antoinette. Her flashbacks are largely a series of people she interacted with and scenes she witnessed, like the animal keeper lamenting the death of his animals, the official court historian who is on volume 7 of his history, the man in charge of the household who is being ignored as everyone flees, and several other characters. The depiction of Marie Antoinette wandering around alone, knocking on doors and attempting--without success--to enter them is particularly moving, as Chantal Thomas explains that these are the first times she has even touched a door. It is interesting to understand that there is something infantile about the kings and queens who were helpless without people doing even the basic things for them.

It starts out telling all of these events in a witty and amusing manner. But then the method of telling does not sustain interest for the entire book, although it picks up again at the end when everyone is fleeing Versailles. ( )
  nosajeel | Jun 21, 2014 |
-- Although I studied French language through college I didn't understand origins of Bastille Day until I read FAREWELL, MY QUEEN, a novel by Chantal Thomas. In 1789 Madame Agathe Sidonie Laborde is Queen Marie Antoinette's reader (& FAREWELL, MY QUEEN's storyteller). They live at Versailles in France. Madame Laborde describes rooms & passages in the chateau, servant roles, & royal famiy members. The Bastille was a prison in Paris. In mid-July 1789 inmates along with ordinary citizens revolted against royalty. Wearing a disguise Madame Laborde left Versailles on July 16, 1789. Safely in Vienna 20 yrs. later she tells her story of being reader to Marie Antoinette. Author Thomas is qualified to write this historical novel. She is Director of Research at National Center of Scientific Research in France & an 18th century literature specialist. She & FAREWELL, MY QUEEN won the Prix Femina in 2002. In 2012 film version was released. -- ( )
  MinaIsham | Aug 7, 2013 |
Prete by Noami RMIT
  Egaro | Mar 10, 2013 |
Farewell My Queen has some great writing, some great scenes, some great impressions, but much of it is dull and uneven.

It recounts, almost hour-by-hour, Versailles on July 14th-16th 1789. The first day is a normal one as courtiers and servants do what courtiers and servants do. The second day begins with the residents learning that the King was awoken in the middle of the night to be told about the Bastille. By the third day everyone is making plans to flee and the monarchy appears to be over.

The story is told in flashbacks from the perspective of then-young woman who was a backup reader to Marie Antoinette. Her flashbacks are largely a series of people she interacted with and scenes she witnessed, like the animal keeper lamenting the death of his animals, the official court historian who is on volume 7 of his history, the man in charge of the household who is being ignored as everyone flees, and several other characters. The depiction of Marie Antoinette wandering around alone, knocking on doors and attempting--without success--to enter them is particularly moving, as Chantal Thomas explains that these are the first times she has even touched a door. It is interesting to understand that there is something infantile about the kings and queens who were helpless without people doing even the basic things for them.

It starts out telling all of these events in a witty and amusing manner. But then the method of telling does not sustain interest for the entire book, although it picks up again at the end when everyone is fleeing Versailles. ( )
1 vote jasonlf | Aug 14, 2012 |
The last week of Marie-Antionette's freedom as a Queen recounted through the eyes and memories of a woman whose function was to read books aloud to the Queen of France. The tone reminded me of 'Rebecca' - Intriguing look into the royal court during those tumultuous last days at Versailles. There are a lot of characters, so focus on just the most relevant or you will get lost with all the names. Highly recommend for those who love historical fiction. ( )
  cooperca05 | Jan 24, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
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Je m'appelle Agathe-Sidonie Laborde, un nom rarement prononcé, presque un secret.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743260783, Paperback)

It was once the job of Madame Agathe-Sidonie Laborde to read books aloud to Marie-Antoinette. Now exiled in Vienna, she looks back twenty-one years to the legendary opulence of Versailles and meticulously reconstructs July 14, 15, and 16 of 1789.

When Agathe-Sidonie is summoned to the Queen's side on the morning of the 14th, Versailles is a miniature universe, sparkling with every outward appearance of happiness and power, peopled with nobles of minutely calibrated rank, and run according to a hundred-year-old ritual called the Perfect Day. But with the shocking news that someone has woken the King in the night, order begins to disintegrate and word of the fall of the Bastille seeps into court. Soon Versailles's beauty is nothing more than a shell encasing rising panic and chaos. Agathe-Sidonie watches as the Queen's attempts to flee are aborted; her most intimate friend betrays her; and the King, appearing to sleepwalk through this crisis, never alters his routine of visiting the Apollo Salon several times a day to consult a giant crystal thermometer.

From the tiniest garret to the Hall of Mirrors, where Marie-Antoinette stands alone and terrified in the dark, Chantal Thomas shows us a world on the edge of oblivion and an intimate portrait of the woman who, like "fire in motion," was its center.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:23:24 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

"Madame Laborde takes us within the chateau, meticulously reconstructing the 14th, 15th, and 16th of July 1789 - terrifying days when the servants disappear and many of the courtiers flee. Versaille's 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 chateau's dawn-to-dusk ritual and the rising panic of the Court as Versailles edges closer and closer to collapse. Madame Laborde herself flees the night of the sixteenth, escaping with the Queen's favorite, Gabrielle de Polignac, and her once-powerful family." "Transporting us to eighteenth-century France with the skill of a consummate storyteller. Thomas evokes the splendor of Versailles on the eve of its downfall. Her portrait of Marie-Antoinette and of Versailles - brought vividly to life by a wealth of detail - is an incomparable account of a lost world."--BOOK JACKET. "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 chateau 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.".… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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