October 17, 2016

The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee


The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee is the story of Lilliet Berne. The main character is very loosely based on Jenny Lind, a Swedish soprano from the 1800's. In this book, Lilliet was born in America in the wild west. We never learn her birth name. Her devout parents owned a farm and she repeatedly disappointed them with her tomboy ways, but she had an amazing singing voice. Her entire family was killed by cholera. She decided to go to Lucerne to her mother's family. In New York she comes across a gravestone for Lilliet Berne and takes her name.

The next 500 pages are about how she became a famous falcon soprano. And let me tell you, it was not an easy trip.

I loved Lilliet. She did what she had to do to get where she wanted to be. She took care of her friends and she took care of herself. She was canny and strong.

The small discussions of each opera were very helpful. I didn't know the stories of the operas so I appreciated that, but if I did know the stories I don't think it took up so much space that it would be annoying.

This is a wild story. The language is fantastic and I just fell in.