Reader beware of “popular” library books that don’t have a hold list: the good-to-trash ratio is not in your favor. The Queen of the Night fell solidly in the latter category and to add insult to injury, it was looooong. But I was overseas and struggling to download books so I hunkered down and powered through. Ugh.
This book is a first-person perspective of a woman adrift mostly in Paris in the 1860s and 1870s. She’s orphaned in America, crosses the Atlantic with the circus with some idea of finding her mother’s family in Switzerland and the book jumps back and forth clumsily through time to fill out her story. At one point she’s in a brothel, at one point she’s an opera star, the author never bothers to use quotation marks in dialogue and, look, it’s just bad. It’s hardly inventive, feels like any other “working girl in Paris” (don’t they ever go anywhere else?) story. War, tragedy, love, intrigue, opera, and yet it managed to be boring.
There was an interlude that I found fascinating, and that was the chapters set during Franco-Prussian war and the siege of Paris. It feels like a pretty overlooked period in history and really the whole book could have been set here and been much more interesting. I just got sick of every character falling in love with a protagonist I could hardly bring myself to care about.
Read it if you want, but that’s hours of your life you aren’t getting back.