The Queen of the Night

by Alexander Chee

"A story that dazzles and surprises right up until the final page." — J. Courtney Sullivan 

 

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.

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN-13/ EAN: 9780544925472
  • ISBN-10: 0544925475
  • Pages: 576
  • Publication Date: 11/01/2016
  • Carton Quantity: 24

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About the Book
About the Author
Reviews
  • About the Book
     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 

      

     

     

     

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  • Reviews
    National Bestseller 

    New York Times Editor's Choice 

    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 

    An Indie Next Pick 

    One of the Most Anticipated Titles of 2016 by Entertainment Weekly, Wired, Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, BBC, Bustle, The Millions, Flavorwire, Book Riot, Brooklyn Magazine, and Bookish. 

    A Guardian Best Book of the Summer  

    A Best Book of the Year So Far from Esquire, Refinery 29, and Financial Times 

     

    "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."-- Maris Kreizman, Esquire  

     

    “The novel is infused with an operatic sensibility…The Queen of the Night is a celebration of these women of creativity, ingenuity, endurance, mastery and grace—a gala in their honor.” —Kelly Gardiner, New York Times  

      

    “Epic…Brilliantly extravagant in its twists and turns and its wide-ranging cast of character.” —Julia Felsenthal, Vogue  

      

    “[An] extravagant five-act grand opera of a novel…Chee’s writing is cultured and confident, and the elite society he depicts is dazzling…Readers willing to submit to the spell of this glittering, luxuriantly paced novel will find that it rewards their attention, from its opening mysteries to its satisfying full-circle finale.” —Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal 

      

    "A sweeping, richly detailed historical novel about a young woman's tumultuous trajectory from circus rider to renowned soprano at the Paris Opera." —Kim Hubbard, People 

      

    “An opera of the page, complete with seduction, hidden identity, betrayal and plenty of costume changes…It’s the ball gowns and roses, magic tricks and ruses, hubris and punishment that will keep the reader absorbed until the final aria.” —Sarah Begley, Time 

      

    “Gorgeous prose...Extraordinarily beautiful and dramatic, a brilliant performance.” —Wendy Smith, Washington Post 

      

    “[A] postmodern bodice ripper…It just sounds terrific. It sounds like opera…It offers a rare, intriguing psychology: the heart as a buried place, where someone is hiding, singing—words you can’t quite hear.” —Joan Acocella, The New Yorker 

      

    "[A] wild opera of a novel…Swift, smart, immersive, and gorgeous." —Garth Greenwell, The Guardian 

      

    “If Lilliet Berne were a man, she might have been what 19th-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…The richness of [Chee’s] research is evident on every page. Paris’ glittering swirl of artists, artistocrats, and underworld habitués lives vividly in his descriptions.” —Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly  

      

    "Despite the nineteenth-century setting, the story couldn’t be more appropriate for the Age of Kardashian—a masterful look at transformation and its unforeseen aftershocks." —Nathan Smith, Wired 

      

    The Queen of the Night tackles the fate of history, women’s sexuality, and the inner lives of forgotten courtesans who wielded power at a time when women were often powerless. The intricate ways Chee renders this past reveals so much about our present day.” —Tanwi Nandini Islam, Elle 

      

    “Vivid, glittering…A spellbinding story of intrigue and self-reinvention." —Jarry Lee, Buzzfeed 

      

    “With a hint of the charm of Victorian erotica, a marvelously involute plot and a whiff of the circus in the American grain… Chee has leaped to another scale altogether…Here, that voice, a rare instance of a fairy-tale first person, is at once fabulous in its simplicity and intimate in its specificity, making the story seem historical, mythic and at the same time deeply personal.” —Ellen Akins, Los Angeles Times 

      

    "Enchants." —US Weekly 

      

    “Operatically elaborate, enthralling…A bit like Verdi’s La Forza del Destino in its twists and turns…Chee does an excellent job of making the world of 19th-century opera—an art form that continues to struggle with the perception that it is not fun—lively and fascinating and louche.” —Spencer Lenfield, Slate  

      

    "A lush, imaginative novel, one that you’ll hope never ends." —Claire Luchette, Travel and Leisure 

     

    "This stunning tale of an opera singer is historical fiction at its finest." —Self 

      

    “A multi-stranded, thoroughly researched epic." —Joe Fassler, The Atlantic 

      

    The Queen of the Night is an astonishing universe into which its lucky readers can dissolve completely, metamorphosing alongside its shapeshifting protagonist. Lilliet Berne steals her name from a gravestone and launches into a life of full-throated song; her voice is an intoxicant, and this book is a glorious performance. Chee's enveloping, seductive prose is perfectly matched to the circus world of the opera.” —Karen Russell 

      

    "A luminous tale of power and passion. Chee gives us an unforgettable heroine and a rich cast of characters—many of them real historical figures. The story dazzles and surprises right up until the final page." —J. Courtney Sullivan 

      

    “One doesn't so much read Alexander Chee’s The Queen of the Night as one is bewitched by it. Beneath its epic sweep, gorgeous language, and haunting details is the most elemental, and eternal, of narratives: that of the necessities and perils of self-reinvention, and the sorrow and giddiness of aspiring to a life of artistic transcendence.” —Hanya Yanagihara 

      

    "Alexander Chee packs his extraordinary second novel, The Queen of the Night, to the seams with music, love, m...

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