The Queen of the Night

The Queen of the Night

Series: 15 Paris Books
Genre: Literary Fiction

This glittering novel of the Paris Opera is full of drama, intrigue, and secrets, and features a memorable main character. Lilliet Berne (inspired by the real-life opera singer Jenny Lind) is the leading soprano, the best of the best and a shining star. She craves an original role, but when one is finally offered to her, she's shocked to find it's based on a secret from her past—a secret that only four people know. Who could have betrayed her? Seeking the truth in her memories, she recalls her life as an orphan and the countless transformations she underwent along the way to beginning her opera career. The book is thoroughly grounded in its 19th century Parisian setting, and almost reads like a novel from that era. (Though be warned: Chee doesn't use quotation marks!)

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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, BuzzfeedEsquireSan 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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