I will start this review by saying I DNFed this book at about a hundred pages, but not because I didn’t like it. I really liked it. But I’ve realized I am a bad reader on digital platforms.
I tried Hoopla for the first time, hoping to fill the void that’s been the suspension on our county-wide library lending program. I borrowed Queen of the Night from Hoopla and had an immensely hard time reading it on my computer screen. Which seems ridiculous since I read on computer screens all day long, but there’s something about fiction that needs to be in the print form for me. Maybe because I have to be on a screen all day for work, the thought of opening the laptop to read for fun after 5 pm is just too daunting. So even though I was enjoying this novel, I could never quite seem to get myself to remember to read it after I shut down the computer for the day. And then it was due back to Hoopla, and I just knew I wouldn’t get to it if I resubmitted for it. Someday, when these adjective times have ended, and I can get my hands on a print-copy of Queen of the Night, I’ll happily pick up this story again.
At least from the first hundred pages, Queen of the Night follows a 19th Century star soprano on her quest to find out who spilled the beans on her humble beginnings to an author who’s published a sensational book about her. While it seems a little foppish on the surface, as the story begins to unfold, we get a rich historical fiction about the Paris entertainment industry and the French aristocracy. Our narrator, whose name is never the same, starts her life in the wilds of the American frontier with a religiously obsessed mother and a heavenly singing voice. When her whole family is killed by the flu one winter, our narrator is left to make her own way. Knowing her mother still had family in Switzerland, she decides to try to go there and build a new life. Her journey across the Atlantic lands her in Paris with a traveling circus where her voice is discovered and her rise to the Paris opera begins. Woven through with bright historical details and dramatic characters, this book reminded me very much of The Crimson Petal & the White by Michel Faber.
I’ll be happy to give this book a real review at some time in the future, but for right now I hold my rating.
Bingo Square: Music