The Queen of the Night - Alexander Chee

"The Queen of the Night" was inspired by (but not based on) the story of Jenny Lind. In this book, Lilliet is an American soprano who goes abroad and, after several tribulations, finds great acclaim as an operatic soprano.

 

Author Alexander Chee most certainly did his research; the author's note at the end of the book reveals several of his sources, including primary documents like letters.

 

It's too bad that the book just fell flat for me. It was not easy to read, due to the stream-of-consciousness style and lack of punctuation (e.g., quotation marks). Many characters go unnamed (one is merely "the tenor," for example), and it is easy to become confused about who is who.

 

While likeability is not a requirement for a character, it is unfortunate when there is not a single redeeming soul in the entire story. Everyone is a user and generally unpleasant, be they servant or nobility. I could not find it within myself to either sympathize or empathize with Lilliet once she reached adulthood. Frankly, I really only finished the book due to my obligation to review it. Had I picked it up from the library or similar, it would have gone back unfinished.

 

Three stars for good research and a story line with decent potential that never felt realized to me.