The queen of the night: A novel
by Alexander Chee
With her distinctive "falcon" soprano, Lilliet Berne is the uncontested star of the Paris Opera. Only one accolade has thus far eluded her: the chance to originate a leading role, ensuring that she'll never be forgotten. Her wish comes true when she's presented with a libretto that alludes to the secrets of her past. Only four other people know the details of her early life, but which one of them betrayed her? As she tries to solve the mystery, she reflects on the various parts she has played, beginning with her childhood on the Minnesota prairie and encompassing roles as a circus performer, as a servant to Empress Eugénie, and as a celebrated courtesan. As lush and dramatic as the theatrical world it depicts, this sweeping novel brings Belle Époque France to richly detailed life.