Synopses & Reviews
"The Queen of the Night joins Tipping the Velvet and The Crimson Petal and the White
as the rare historical novel in which the setting may be old, but the
writing makes everything feel brand new. Alexander Chee has written a
subversive, sexy epic about a young American girl who struggles more
than her fans will ever understand on her way to eventually become a
highly celebrated soprano at the Paris Opera House. Lillet Berne's
dramatic rise to success is all the more exciting because of all the
wonderful details Chee includes about her life in the late 19th century.
The descriptions of her dresses alone are worth the price of this book,
and Chee's knowledge about opera is such that you can almost hear the
music when reading his words. But for all the research and historical
detail, in the end, it's a love story, as so many of the most excellent
books are." Esquire
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
In the Paris of the Second Empire, what did it take to rise from
courtesan to diva? From a ferociously talented writer who is “the fire,
in my opinion, and the light” (Junot Díaz) comes a blazing portrait of a
woman who creates her own fate.
About the Author
Alexander Chee won a Whiting Award for his first novel, Edinburgh, and
is a recipient of the NEA Fellowship in Fiction and residencies from the
MacDowell Colony, Ledig House, and Civitella Ranieri. His writing has
appeared in the New York Times Book Review, Tin House, Slate, and NPR,
among others, and he is a Contributing Editor at The New Republic. He
lives in New York City.